Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Dancing Dwarfs

I'm annoyed.

The tickets for the dwafs were 21.35€ each, and I had to jump through hoops to get them. When they went on sale, the website sagged to its knees under the strain of so many customers at once, so it took about 10 attempts before I was able to buy them.

And then they emeailed me instructions on how to collect the tickets which were less than clear. Just “Collect them from the network of Caja Canaria machines.” (Caja Canaria is a bank.) So last week I went into a branch and asked what to do. “Oh you can't get your tickets here,” he said. “You have to go the branch in the middle of Santa Cruz. The machine's clearly marked, and it's really simple to use.”

Fair enough, but parking in Santa Cruz during the bajada is a nightmare. It's difficult at the best of times -- 21st century traffic meets 16th century street plan – but during the bajada, the two main car parks get taken over for stages and a funfair. But I got a bad feeling about this, and felt it would be pushing my luck to leave it any longer. So __I parked at the north end of town and walked in under the blazing sun.

I found the ticket machine easy enough, and the instructions were simple. Just swipe your credit card through. The one you used to pay for the tickets.

Oops. I was pretty sure that the card I used for the tickets was the one that had expired. I'd cut it up and thrown away the pieces a week ago.

Well I tried the other cards. Nope. Nothing doing.

So Í queued at a counter and asked who I should talk to about this. And they politely pointed me at another queue.

It was a slow queue. But when I got to the front, the young woman was charming, and said, “It's odd that your new card didn't work. They usually had the same number.” So she phoned my bank, who said that it would be because the new card had a chip and pin, and the old one didn't.

So I had to go to my own bank (more walking in the blazing sun) and queue again.

The nice young woman talked to her boss, and drafted a letter which said that I was the owner of such-and-such a card, since expired, which had been used to pay so much to Caja Canaria for tickets on such and such a date.

Then I had to go to the theatre ticket office, and present my ID and the letter from my bank. And they gave me the tickets.

Total elapsed time, almost 2 hours. But I grabbed the chance to buy a ticket for the carro (a religious theatre play for the bajada).

And I went home with a thumping headache, carrying the tickets in triumph.

That wasn't the end of queuing. They were unnumbered seats – first come, first choice. So we had to get there good and early, and parking was going to be insane. Luckily they laid on lots of extra buses.Shortly after 5 pm on Thursday, we were debating how long the bus might take to get to our house from Fuencaliente, given that it was due to leave at about now. We didn't have to allow time to get to the bus stop, because it's right opposite the house., but we decided the sensible thing would be to get to the bus stop pretty soon. So I packed bottles of water for the queue, and went to the toilet.

There I was, doing what nobody else could do for me, when Helen yelled, “BUS!”

So we all poured out of the house – me last, obviously, and we actually made it.

Of course the bus couldn't take us right into town. The street was blocked off to make space for the huge queues to see the dwarfs. So we got some nice, healthy exercise.

And then we joined the queue.

Well, first we had to find the right queue. People were already queuing for the second performance. And then we waited for an hour. At this point, my son regretted leaving his Nintendo behind in the rush for the bus.

And then we had to choose our seats pretty quickly. My bad, I went up the stands nearest the door.

And we couldn't see the dancing floor properly! The stands were arranged so you could see the main stage, but the dwarfs don't dance on that. They dance in the middle of the areana, closer to the stands and lower down. (The numbered seats were a separate stand in front of the stage.

I couldn't believe it. We'd paid 21€ each and we were going to see the tops of the dwarfs hats, nothing more.

Then the people in front of us decided they wanted to see what they'd paid to see, so they stood up.

At that point, the people right at the back started yelling for everyone to sit down. It took a while to get the message through, but eventually they did sit down, and 99% of us saw better.

OK, the atmosphere was good, but does that look like a 21€ view to you?

And that arena sits about 5,000. 5,000 seats x 6 performances x 21€ is 630,000€.

Like I said, I'm annoyed.

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