Whatever happened to paper chains and home made calendars, we even made little card baskets at infant school and were rewarded with a chocolate Santa as a passenger. A bit of imagination can go a long way to making special festive decorations so I was in my element at the Artbelen in the Centro de Arte La Recova in Santa Cruz. A big hall full of recycled winter treats including sweet wrapper bells was one of the highlights of my pre Christmas tour of La Laguna and Santa Cruz.
Rewinding to the La Laguna start point, a pair of coloured poodles on guard outside a shop reminded me that the day wasn’t just going to be about cribs and wise men. The psychedelic canines nearly sidetracked me from my meeting with the ducks in Parque de la Constitucion. Last years final touches to the fire damaged cathedral saw the removal of the ancient duck pond and the eviction of the waddling inhabitants, the feathers really flew as locals protested furiously. Eventually a new pond was built in the park at a cost of 100,000 euros and the ducks had recently been resettled. They looked well fed and happy, they weren’t even phased by me waving a box of Paxo stuffing at them.
Back down in La Laguna I found a familiar side street that always has some entertaining figures up high on the buildings. This year they had been embellished a little with nice capsules to sit in and little penguins for company. It was nice to see the smiles on peoples faces as they glanced up and clocked the colourful characters. It was all very whimsical and in keeping with the charming character of the interlocking streets. La Laguna seems to have side stepped the more vulgar and commercial trappings of Christmas, the indoor market in Plaza del Cristo was bustling and a giant stage was taking shape ready for the big fiesta nights ahead.
The best was yet to come in Santa Cruz, I had seen the Artbelen last year and was eager to see what they would make this time around. There were several big set pieces like a sprawling nativity scene made from pressed and twisted polythene but the overall theme was of presents bursting forth from boxes. Discarded day to day packaging had been transformed into fun creations full of colour and character. The material used included 2,500 plastic bottles, 60 carton tubes, 500 drink cans, and 300 square metres of wrapping paper. The hall is next to the Teatro Guimera and the exhibition is open until 5 January from 6pm to 10pm and free to go in.
There was only one thing that could top, or bottom, that and the tour of the traditional nativity belens, a Caganer. This Catalan tradition features a peasant in the nativity scene doing his own recycling by adding some home made fertilizer to the earth. I spotted one in the belen at CC Tres de Mayo taking a subtle dump in the shop window. I was chuckling all the way back to Los Cristianos.