MEET THE OEC REFEREES
Today, introducing Antonio Morell from Spain.
So here we are again, bigger this time! 4 years have past since I became a FIRST LEGO League volunteer. I’m working towards a PhD in Robotics, and one day my advisor invited me to participate as a referee in ‘an exciting robotics competition, which is going to be held here in Canary Islands for the first time’. My first thought was — LEGO? Robots? Of course! It was easy for me to make up my mind and decide that I wanted to be part of something like this. Nevertheless, I couldn’t even imagine how much fun I was going to have, and how much I was going to learn from this fantastic experience.
This is going to be my first Open European Championship, but I’ve been able to catch a glimpse of how big this competition is during last year’s Spanish Finals. I’ve always loved the referee role, being in the front line, face to face with the kids, feeling their anxiety, commitment and enjoyment. You can’t help being infused by the same feelings they develop during the games. To me, this is one of the most amazing things that can be enjoyed! On this season, I had the great chance of being the Head Referee during the last regional tournament in Tenerife, and I’m really looking forward to meet all of the great European teams which are going to visit us. Great things are about to happen!
The secret of this tournament is to realize that it’s not all about winning: you see them getting involved, enjoying, crying, and having one of the more astonishing experiences of their short lifes. That precise moment when you see them celebrating everyone’s success, that’s one of the most inspiring feelings I treasure after each competition I’ve been able to attend: 5 since I started this wonderful adventure! And the excitement before everything starts, it always feels like the first time.
The team spirit is key to understand why this competition works for all of us. It teaches us a valuable lesson: working together and in the same direction is what makes things move forward. That’s what I see every year in their enthusiastic eyes. And none of this could be possible without the dedication and love of everyone involved in the OEC: teams, coaches, volunteers… every single person involved! I have to say that I’m in love with this competition, and I do not regret any minute I’ve spent as a volunteer… and you wouldn’t either!
So, what are you waiting for?
CARNIVAL OF SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE
Get to know one of Spain’s most colorful parties.
The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is held each February in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and attracts people from all over the world. There are carnival cavalcades, thousands of costumes, spectacular floats, music, dance and —above all— fun, plenty of fun. The best part is that everything takes place in the street so you can live it to the full. It is considered the second most popular and internationally known carnival, after the one held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). Partially for this reason, the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is twinned with the city of Rio de Janeiro.
It is almost certain that the population of Tenerife began celebrating carnival shortly after the conquest when the Portuguese and Spaniards arrived on the island. Since then it has been held almost every year except when the Civil War and the first years of Franco’s dictatorship put a stop to it. Finally, with the return of democracy, it could throw off its disguise and once again be called Carnival. In 1980 it was listed as one of the Fiestas of International Interest for Tourists.
In 1987, singer Celia Cruz went to the Carnival Chicharrero with Billo’s Caracas Boys; attended by 250,000 people. The concert was registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest gathering of people in an outdoor plaza to attend a concert.
The festivities on the streets of Santa Cruz de Tenerife start on the Friday before Carnival with an opening parade, which reaches its height during the night when thousands of people in fancy dresses dance until the early hours of the next day. The party continues night after night until Ash Wednesday. That day, people of Santa Cruz de Tenerife celebrate the “entierro de la sardina” (burial of the sardine), which consists of a procession with a huge model fish which is finally “cremated”. On this day local people get rid of their colourful costumes and wear black widow’s weeds as a sign of mourning, they cry at the funeral of the sardine which marks the end of the carnival. The burning of the sardine marks the end of carnival until the following year. However, the party starts up again the following weekend, known as the weekend of the piñata.
The spectacular carnival queens are the most famous symbol of carnival. Every year different candidates compete in a great show called the “Gala de Elección de la Reina,” to win the prestigious title of Carnival Queen. Every district that holds a carnival chooses its own Queen but it is the competition to be the Queen of the Santa Cruz Carnival that attracts the most attention. All the candidates wear spectacular costumes known as fantasies, whose design and creation rely on a great number of people.
The festival has two parts: the official Carnival, and the Carnival on the street. The official carnival has more than a hundred groups, including murgas, comparsas, rondallas and other musical groups. The street carnival is more loosely organized, and comprises the people celebrating on the streets. Thousands of people come each day to the streets to participate, most of whom wear a disguise in accordance with Carnival tradition.
USEFUL & PRACTICAL TIPS
Find out some useful tips that might come in handy during your stay in Tenerife.
What to pack? – Baring in mind that the average temperature in Tenerife is 23 degrees centigrade and that we have 300 days of sunshine, we recommend you bring beachwear and sun protection, comfy cotton clothing for the summer and a cardigan or light jacket for the winter depending on the altitude of the areas you visit. The island of Tenerife has a very stable climate. Its orography and the influence of the trade winds produce microclimates, which can make for varied temperatures between very short distances, something to bare in mind when travelling around the island.
Be careful with the sun – Enjoying Tenerife’s warm sun is one of the key features of a holiday on the island. However, you should not overdo it and it is necessary to take some simple precautions, particularly during the summer. By doing this you will avoid unpleasant situations, such as sunstroke or sunburn. You should always use sunscreen at least every two hours, with a protection factor above 15. It is also advisable to wear hats and sunglasses with a high level of UBA and UVA protection.
You should also limit the time you spend sunbathing, especially when the sun is at its strongest – between 12.00 and 16.00 – it is best to avoid these hours. A good sun umbrella and light comfortable clothing are also important. Please remember that even though it may feel cooler next to or in the sea, the sun is still shining with the same strength.
Distance chart – Find the distance in kilometres between the most relevant places in the island. You can check the chart here.
Banks – Opening hours for banks are from 08.30 to 14.00 hours from Monday to Friday. Some also open the occasional afternoon or Saturday mornings but only between October and June. Outside these hours you can still use the 24-hour cashpoints.
Currency – The legal currency in Tenerife is the Euro. Visitors from countries that are not part of the Euro-zone can change currency in any bank by showing their passport: banking hours are from 8.30 to 14.00 hours. You can also change money in the many exchange agencies in tourist resorts which usually charge quite low commissions. You can also change currency in travel agencies and in the hotels or apartments where you are staying. You normally cannot pay for items in other currencies. How much do things cost?
An approximate price guide:
-A beer or soft drink: from € 1.50 -A daily menu in a standard restaurant: from € 7 -A dinner in a good restaurant: from € 18 -A Big Mac in McDonalds: 3,10 € -A taxi journey in town: from € 3 -A bus journey in town: € 0.90 -A national newspaper: € 1
Medical Care – During your holidays, all residents of the European Union have the right to free medical and hospital care from Tenerife’s Public Health Service. To receive this medical care you need to have the European Medical Card or equivalent document, which can be applied for in your home country. Residents in Spain require the “tarjeta sanitaria” of their autonomous region. The European Medical Card does not cover all treatments.
It does not include dental treatment, except for emergency extractions, or repatriation due to illness. Other countries that receive the same free service as EU nationals are Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Andorra, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Peru. In other cases medical care must be paid for if it is not covered by insurance.