A Night With Sir Francis Drake and TEA in Tenerife

We don’t enjoy TEA enough. That’s the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes in Santa Cruz, not the stuff Brits sip in a china cup with pinkies erect.

I’m a massive fan of TEA and what it stands for. The slate grey building defies convention; its angular lines and quasi-industrial design should be awkward and ungainly; like something from Blade Runner but minus the gloom. Instead it’s one of those buildings that’s not only aesthetically pleasing to look at, once you step through its modernistic portal it oozes creative energy and enthusiasm.

TEA, Tenerife

TEA is a 21st century temple to art, learning and entertainment and a visit there is never less than interesting and enlightening.

Last night we made the journey to Santa Cruz to watch Las Alas Verdes del Dragón (The Green Wings of the Dragon); a short film about British naval hero Sir Francis Drake and his relationship with the Canary Islands.

There are little treasures to be found each week at TEA, and each week we miss them. But not this time thanks to the fact that one of the scriptwriters was Daniel Martín Gómez, a journalist friend from La Palma who was one of the people who opened up that island’s box of goodies to us when we visited recently.

Daniel had given us the heads up about his movie being screened at TEA, so we were primed and ready for it’s premiere.

Las Alas Verdes del Dragón

Drake’s relationship with the Canary Islands is a fascinating one, but what’s even more interesting is the chasm in the way Drake is perceived by the British and by the Spanish, especially Canarios whose cities he had a tendency to attack every now and again (not very successfully it has to be noted).

The film focussed on these differences and let various historians from the UK and the Canary Islands construct an image of Drake that revealed that viewing him as either hero or villain was taking too much of a simplistic stance.

It was an enjoyable and interesting short documentary (25 mins) which moved from the Canaries to Plymouth (the footage of which made me want to visit the place right away) and back to the Canaries again. It was intriguing to see old images of Santa Cruz de la Palma which showed it had hardly changed in size since Drake’s time where it started at the harbour at one end to just beyond the Castillo de Santa Catalina at the other. It’s also food for thought to think that then, Santa Cruz de la Palma was one of the main ports of call for  travellers and merchants heading to the New World. Now it has drifted off the map as the golden treasure the majority of modern travellers seek has more to do with sun and sand.

The film zipped along to a satisfying conclusion which might have surprised many of the Spanish speaking audience it was aimed at.

Las Alas Verdes del Dragón, TEA, Tenerife

Talking of the audience, the people who patronise TEA tend to be people that seek out interesting documentaries, innovative art exhibitions and movies that are screened in their original language. That makes them interesting in themselves, which always adds the promise of some prime people-watching time to any visit to TEA.

Every time we go, we leave saying exactly the same thing – ‘we must come here more often.’

Thanks Daniel for a great little film and for reminding us what an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures TEA is.

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