Thursday Dec 21, 2016
“So! Where and What?”
“In the car and about the island.. We finally stopped at the beach Playa Amadores where our home is located.”
Gran Canaria is a small circular island that is about 6000ft altitude in the center; 3D shape like a volcano. Barrancos, steep ravines, start very narrow as run-offs from the rains on the peak. The steepen and widen as they descend to the ocean. Between these barranco outlets, there are sandy playas in the south (tourist resort country) and high headlands, especially in the north. Most of the locals live in the north near Las Palmas.
Roads to the interior are carved in terraces that wind along the steep barranco walls. Speeds are slow as the road, which is well surfaced, twists and climbs/descends. There are a few turn outs where less familiar drivers might pull over and let the cars behind go past.
We have spent most of the time exploring the interior; San Lucia, San Bartholme, Tejeda and Roque Nublo. Tejeda is high up, 5000 ft, and a beautiful town carved into the barranco wall facing south. White painted stucco with red tile roofs. Flat cobbles for street pavement. Here they make the famous almond delights noted across Spain and Europe. We can vouch that they are tasty!
Roque Nublo is a thumb of basalt that was a throat of lava in the ancient volcano. Softer rock eroded leaving Nublo pointing to the sky. This iconic symbol can be seen from many place on the shore. In an art museum in Galdor on the north coast, there was a tablo nativity scene set in Gran Canaria with Roque Nublo high in the background.
Galdor was one of the home villages of the Indigenous. It seems that they originated in North Africa and were of Berber descent. Who brought them and their animals here is unknown. There is no record of tales/legends of water travel and they had no maritime connection when the Spanish arrived.
The Spanish conquered the island in the mid 1400s. Reducing the population from 20,000 or so to les than 3000. Sugar cane industry was started. It used all the wood and the aquifers on the island in 150 years, then the industry collapsed. A new industry was cochinella beetles off the cacti. This is a natural red coloring still used in foods. The islands became the jumping off place for trans-Atlantic voyages. Columbus stopped here for all four of his voyages. Today, tomatoes, bananas, and other crops are grown for European markets.
Tourists bring a lot of cash. Different islands have been favored by different countries. GC is favored by Scandanavians, especially Norwegian. Twice in conversation with locals (one waiter and one maitre’d) we were told that we were the second Americans in recent memory. One couple from Indiana four years ago! And one from Philadelphia today! Plane connections to GC are not easy for Americans.
GC is an easy going, warm feeling place. They are very tolerant of our “Spanish” and let us try to speak it and they will reply in Spanish until you can go no further. In France and Italy, as soon as they here your accent they will try to switch to English.
For us, upon return we will book a “self-catering” place in the north. I don’t like the barranco walls terraced in condos/resorts. Playa Amadores isn’t anywhere as bad as claustrophobic! Maspalomas and Playa Ingles. BUT I came to experience Gran Canaria not vacation Norway. I know that sounds awful but “it is as it is”.
Thursday is our last day on GC. We’ll try to find some fishing villages were told about. Experience a gourmet upscale last GC meal. Repack for a morning flight to Nice for Xmas weekend before Bagnols on the 27th.