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The Carnaval is over but did it live up to expectations? 

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Puerto’s Carnaval is over and was quickly forgotten as the sun began to shine.

This year I am almost ashamed to say that I managed to miss most of the celebrations. Though not because I’m not a fan, Carnaval has its place, it’s just that this year it was once again the same old, same old, and I have been there, seen it before and even bought the T shirt.

Perhaps, I am being a bit harsh; this year there was a new event, at least, new to Puerto, the Drag Queen Gala, not exactly a new idea, not one to stretch the imagination, cross dressing, as it always has been a big part of Carnaval.

As a spectator I have always found Carnaval to be a bit of a letdown. Oh, I’ve done the fancy dress bit in the past, a phase I have moved on from; maybe I’ve grown up a bit or perhaps I’ve become more boring. I think my recent apathy is because everything appears so poorly organised and rarely runs to time. Purely from a spectator’s perspective there always seems to be so much hanging around involved, wai-ting for something to happen, and when it does , it is either over before it really got started, or drags on for an eternity, and my attention span is not what it was.

Puerto’s Carnaval is a popular event, but it will always be the poor relation, the little brother to the main and most important event on the island, the Carnaval at Santa Cruz, and it suffers for it. This year I heard some many people say they go there rather than stay at Puerto.

Carnaval here never lives up to its expectations, it is ‘hyped’ beyond recognition, and like so many of the town’s events obviously suffers from lack of funding, so much so that despite the best efforts of the organi-sations taking part, sadly, it really shows. And why is it called an ‘International’ event? The word implies that it is global or world renowned, surely that is stretching the twinning association with Dusseldorf to the extreme!!

This year’s theme was the Circus, a very appropriate choice for Puerto, I thought, but where was the evidence? The backdrop for the stage area was about the extent of it, oh, and the Mayor donned a clown head for Saturday’s parade, at least he did look the part. I think they missed a golden opportunity; they could have hired a big top and staged the events under cover. Now that would have been a novelty, and the first time for years. Where were the lights, the bunting and the decorations? If you visited the town during the day it didn’t exactly shout Carnaval at you, and it should have done.

Carnaval is what it is, it will be the same next year, and it is popular, around 35000 watched the Saturday parade, if you believe ‘official’ figures, I would love to know how they calculate them. Is it a case of ‘Just add a few thousand more to the number we dreamt up last year’? I wonder. I just wish they wouldn’t make such a song and dance about it, figuratively speaking, that is. Still I shouldn’t knock it, the loca’s lap it up, can’t get enough of it, and of course, Carnaval is great for kids, no matter how big they are.

Now the people of Puerto don’t have to wait a year before getting their next Carnaval fix, the Summer Carnaval returns in September. Following the first event of its kind last year, this year it promises to be bigger and better, believe you me, it needs to be.

When is the next big event in Puerto? There is the Mueca Festival in May, a festival of the Arts, with the vast majority of the performances outdoors. Elsewhere the idea of performing in the streets must seem a bit of a novelty. However, in Puerto, it is born out of necessity, as our concert venue (the one with the leaking roof) is still being used as a builder’s yard. The project to renovate it is one of those which is still in the planning stage, along with a whole host of others. I like this event, though quite why they host it in one of the lowest months for tourist’s remains a bit of a mystery to me. Although even this event has been in a bit of a decline in recent years, whether that is due to funding or maybe the whole concept has gone a bit stale. I particularly like the Puerto Street Art, an idea started in Mueca and adopted by Periplo. It is a great idea and situated in my favourite part of town. I often watch people seeking them out to take photos. I just wish though they would keep the project up to date, the information board in calle Mequinez does not include all the paintings, besides which, it has been vandalised, but then that is pretty normal for Puerto.

When is the next flower festival? Is this an annual or bi-annual event? It was held in October last year, but there was talk of holding it earlier in the year, when ‘Puerto en Flor’ has more chance of actually having plants in flower. Just please don’t hold it anytime soon, the planting in the town is at the worst I ever seen, in fact, it couldn’t get any worse as there isn’t any. The flower beds last received plants in early December when the whole town was decked in the ‘just for Christmas’ poinsettias. Some of which managed to survive to early February, since when all the beds have been empty. Still it makes the weeding easier for the gardeners, I suppose.

The town could certainly do with a bit of colour so much so, to advertise the fact , I have created my own slogan, one to rival ‘Puerto de la Cruz, part of you’ the current ‘brand name’ the administration is so proud of. I thought of ‘Puerto de la Cruz, it’s really Grey’. What do you think? It has a certain ring to it and is probably nearer the mark than the official version.

In the coming months while the town has fewer tourists I would like to see those responsible actually walking around the town, and not just up and down San Telmo, the town doesn’t start and finish there and it is by no means its jewel in the crown. If they do, not only would it be good exercise for them, they would find out just how dirty the town is, unless they are wearing blinkers or rose tinted spectacles that is. They will see the litter everywhere, the cigarette ends around the base of every tree, the staining to the grey absorbent concrete slabs they have covered the town in.

Oh, by the way, the works in calle Quintana which we were assured would be finished by the end of February, still aren’t, but by the looks of things they could be finished by the end of March, but don’t hold me to it.