Everyone loves a street market so why not in Puerto?
Recently we were treated to the Puerto Street Market. It was to be an event, we were promised, which would be a shopper’s extravaganza, with 150 of the town’s stores taking part.
This was the second such event, the first was held last year, I didn’t attend, I am always wary of events in the town that have been ‘bigged up’ before hand, they, more often than not, disappoint.
This year, however, I thought I would, my decision influenced by the fact there had been a similar event in La Orotava the weekend before. Two streets packed with tented stalls, all, manned, stocked and doing business at 10 a.m. with genuine bargains to be had. A well organised market, but then I wouldn’t expect anything different.
Now back to Puerto, and the following Saturday where I was ready to be proved wrong. I am an early shopper as I am not a lover of crowds, but as this was Puerto I thought I’d leave it to 11 a.m., to give everyone a chance to properly wake up, have their coffee and then set up. I wasn’t sure where the market would be based, but as the whole town was involved it must cover a large area.
Finding nothing happening in the now pristine, recently renovated calle Quintana, I headed for the cobbles of calles Cólogan and Esquivel, thinking surely the main market must be there. There was evidence of some decoration, some bunting and a few balloons and a few of the shops were setting up stalls outside their shops, a hour later than billed, but who’s clock watching, and the stalls were not stalls as such, but more like a token table just outside their door.
By then it started to dawn on me, there was no market, but why then call it Puerto Street Market, and why use the English wording, other than, perhaps it was thought to be trendier. I don’t need a dictionary definition, but surely the word market in this context suggests a collection of stalls displaying and selling wares. Street obviously needs no definition. Perhaps then, something got lost in the translation, because a market there was not or, at least, I hadn’t found it.
Ever the optimist I trolled around the neighbouring streets in search of the elusive event, but sadly to no avail, but, not to be deterred I headed to calle Mequinez where, I tried to convince myself, I would eventually find the missing market. It was not to be, yes, there was a semblance of one, but it proved to be the usual 3 or 4 ‘Crafty’ stalls that turn up there periodically.
However, I did bump into some of the entertainment, a roving drum band, who though very good, but even they only held my attention for about 5 minutes, any longer and I’m sure I would have suffered from a headache. My search for Puerto Street Market was over and my money stayed in my pocket.
Of course, later in the day the event was hailed to be a overwhelming success and the usual somewhat vague and unsubstantiated atten-dance figures were anno-unced, only this time it was suggested they were in the thousands, far less than the tens of thousands who normally support the town’s events, so perhaps, it was not such a success after all, or maybe it was, at least, to Puerto de la Cruz standards, it all depends on your level of expectation.
It may have been, and this is just me thinking aloud, that shopkeepers in the town, who in recent months have been continually badgered by the Ayuntamiento about displaying their goods on the street (quite rightly so), have fought shy of doing just that when asked to support this event. After all there is a certain irony to it.
Just to expand on that point, I am often disparaging of our local Ayuntamiento, but credit where credit is due, they have done a good job of clearing ‘clutter’ from the town’s streets. Especially so in Plaza del Charco where all the restaurant boards have disappeared, along with all the dividing screens and dare I say it, but it would appear that some restaurants have been made to reduce their table numbers. Well done, it looks much better now.
Everybody likes a market, the event in la Orotava is evidence enough, but there is no market in Puerto, a town that is surely crying out for one. There hasn’t been one since, both, the artisan market outside the town hall, and the general market outside La Cupula, were forced to close because of the company or companies running them not having (let’s keep it polite) the correct paperwork . Since their closure all that has remained, in the main, is the monthly car boot at the English church and the twice weekly rastro at the Mercado Municipal, both of which are well attended. Let the cry go out, Puerto needs a market, they could call it the ‘Street Market’, it has a kind of catchy ring to it, but hang on a mo, hasn’t that name already been tried?
There are those who I am sure will say that the Mercado Municipal is a market, a covered one, and I suppose it is, or to be more exact it could be. If ever there is a building considered under utilised in the town this must surely be it. Imagine, a different market every day one or both of its two terraces, one day antiques, on another artisan, or perhaps arts and crafts. There is plenty of scope without treading on any toes by interfering with the current ‘jumble sales’ of second hand clothes and bric-a-brac.
However, there are some obvious stumbling blocks. On the whole the building and its markets have always been the domain of locals and residents, and I am sure there are many who would like to see it remain that way. The occasional tourist, who may stumble across it by chance, can be seen wandering around, often with a bemused expression.
Although, there is some evidence that attitudes are changing. Take the first floor as a good example. Once predominately the home of the fruit and veg stalls, yet now more ‘foodie’ outlets are beginning to take over. Here you can sample traditional products from both Spain and the Canary Islands, seafood, Mexican Tacos, can eat tapas, buy cooked foods to takeaway, get specialist teas, the list goes on.
A few years ago the units on the top floor, then gloomy lock-ups, permanently shut-tered, were converted into small office units.
The area has been greatly improved, yet the units remain empty and nobody seems to care. They’d be ideal for start-ups, or short term easy in, easy out rentals, or even studios.
This building has so much potential and could provide a permanent home for a town market, but what about its location, many will say it is in the wrong end of town. The crux of the matter is that many people do not know where it is or even that it exists.Ok, it is not in the most fashionable part of town, it is definitely no San Telmo, but come on, you can walk from one end of town to the other in 20 minutes; it is not exactly situated out in the sticks.
We often have to listen to the grandiose ideas and schemes that spill out of the town hall, knowing full well that many of them will never come to fruition when here is a building, already there, with the administration in place.
It just needs a little bit of money spending on it, some publicity and promotion, and a few events to be staged there (unusually for Puerto, it has a roof). It would be good for Puerto and good for the local area. Puerto de la Cruz isn’t just San Telmo or calle Quintana.
Take a look around.