This year we decided it was time for a change and instead of heading upwards, turned westward along the coast to Buenavista del Norte. In terms of animals, Buenavista’s San Abad celebrations are a poor relation to La Matanza’s with only a fraction of the oxen, goats and horses you find on show in the northern hill town. But in many ways it’s more accessible for visitors. There’s more of a party atmosphere and where La Matanza’s fiesta is focussed around the church, making the streets congested, Buenavista’s is spread out between a field behind the town and the main plaza.
Bob, being a La Matanza fan, wasn’t sure about the change of venue at first. But as the day progressed, he warmed to the different San Abad scene.
Dancers from El Hierro
One of the quirks of the San Abad Fiesta in Buenavista del Norte is that the dancers who accompany the statue of San Abad as he travels up to the field where the animals gather and then back to town again are from El Hierro. Their traditional costumes and music are quite different from Tenerife’s. Men and women dancers wear the same outfit – a better deal for the women I think.
Blessing of the Animals
Hiding of the Animals
Where Buenavista wins out over La Matanza is in the food stakes. There are loads of kiosks, guachinches and bars, each offering cheap vino del pais (country wine) and spicy pinchos (pork kebabs). After a tour of the field and the plaza, the smell of pinchos sizzling on a barbecue is too much to resist. The ones from the kiosk in the centre of Buenavista’s plaza are exceptional – so much so that Bob went back for more five times during the course of the day.
After the animals have been judged, they’re driven through the town to collect their prizes outside of the church. These are always stop-start affairs giving the goats a chance to have an impromptu lunch whilst they wait.
Cats Don’t Mix
There are more domestic animals at Buenavista del Norte than at La Matanza but cats just are not social creatures. The expression on this guy’s face just reinforces that bringing your cat to one of these shindigs isn’t a smart idea… unless you’ve clipped their claws first.
Let’s Get this Party Started
Once the animals start their parade, everyone else joins in behind them and assorted floats, folk bands and local guys and gals wearing colourful traditional dress start a street party that ends up in the plaza.
Cool or Cruel?
Just Plain Odd
One of the fun parts at Buenavista is looking out for the more unusual San Abad revellers. A chicken in a cart and a tortoise in Tupperware were two of the more amusing sights this year. Hardest to spot was this snakeskin bracelet – the ultimate in San Abad fashion accessories.
The Fiesta of San Abad take place in Buenavista del Norter and La Matanza on the same Sunday each January. Some websites (even the municipality’s) will tell you that it takes place on the third sunday of January. But this is not always the case, especially if the month starts on a Sunday.