(Left photo: Carreta in the 1930s (standing, second from the left)
(Right photo: Carreta, nowadays, wearing the t-shirt of his beloved Victoria football team)
We met Carreta at Las Canteras Avenue. He was seated, reading the paper and at times, waving to the passers-by, as he has done everyday for many years. He greeted us with a strong handshake, which shows that he still has some of the strength that years ago made him a boxing champ in the Canary Islands. Carreta is almost certainly the oldest physiotherapist on the Canary Islands as he has been working there for more than 50 years. He started to work for the R.C. Victoria soccer club and then for C.D. Firgas. Nowadays, he still heals sprains or stiff necks at the age of 89. We started to chat about how things were back in his day. We first asked him how long he has felt an affinity with Las Canteras.
Carreta: “I was born in 1915 in a house in La Plazoleta de los Betancores and my family and I moved close to the market port shortly afterwards. Later, we lived in Temisas (La Isleta) and when I got married I moved to Secretario Padilla, in the Guanarteme district. Even though things have changed greatly since then, the beach remains almost the same as it was when I was young.
People did not go to the beach as much as they do now, but they went after St John’s day, because it was said that if you went earlier, spots would appear all over your body. There were some foreigners sunbathing. Children, like me, spent our time on the streets and when we went to the beach, we would gather under the Galán beach hut or swim near where the dock is now. Our swimming trunks were made of sackcloth and it took a long time to get them dry. I remember that I first saw a woman there in a bikini in 1933 – a truly exceptional event .
I also remember a kind of yacht club vessel anchored in the coastal area of La Puntilla owned by Mr Silvio, the Consul of Uruguay. People were taken from a tiny wooden dock opposite Calle Tenerife on the ship by the boats. He had two turtles, one tied up to the ship in the water and the other in a small basin on board. We suffered so much hardship that two kids ate stale bread with which Silvio fed the turtles. One day, when there was a big tide, the ship came loose and ran aground on the sand.
Swimming competitions were also held there; they took place between Peña la Vieja and La Puntilla. Many swimmers participated but Agustín Ramos stood out from the others. We played soccer matches in La Cícer as well. The ball cost one peseta and sometimes we played against a team of bootleggers who were pretty good. We would bet a cluster of bananas or a bottle of rum. From those soccer matches I especially remember Eduardo Suárez, who was a member of the Parliament of the Communist Party and was executed during the Spanish Civil War. I recall that there was an English hospital where today the Meliá Hotel is situated. The sailors and the English tourists stayed there. We would buy cigarettes for them and they would give us a few cents in return.”