El albergue

El albergue

Friday, June 7, 2013

When we go...

Let’s go, you and me, to Gran Canaria of the Canary Islands. You say you don’t have time? It’s too far away? Too expensive? Those might all be reasonable issues to keep you from coming with me, but please also consider this…

When we go, we’ll sneak ourselves into the family wedding of a friend. We’ll enjoy the friendly familial environment spilling out the beautiful church door and swirling around the radiant bride and groom both as they enter apart and exit together, rice and rose petals in abundant appearance. We’ll eat fancy food and talk with all the aunts and uncles and cousins and friends whose names all sort of blend together in a bright, happy crowd of faces. We’ll soak in the radiant look of devotion on the groom’s face as he sings his heart out to his lovely bride during their first dance. And after all the food and all the talking and all the dancing and pictures, we’ll finally go to bed at 3 o’clock in the morning, extremely tired but happy.

A beautiful day to wander about

The next day, we’ll go on a coastal tour around half the island, driving around all the little bends and twists that suddenly reveal friendly little beach towns peaking out from around corners. We’ll roll the windows down and let the wind blow our hair completely out of any semblance of propriety. We’ll stop for a moment in sunny Maspalomas and look down at the rolling sand stretching out in either direction. We’ll take a break in another little tiny port with a miniscule yet beautiful beach to try some of the local specialty – papas arrugadas. We’ll savor those tenderly boiled new potatoes dipped in mojo picón (one of the very few even mildly spicy things to be found in Spain). And then we’ll head back out, into the heart of the island.

It would be lovely to be able to spend an entire afternoon here at the Playa del Inglés.

We’ll watch the landscape changing from the bare, dry cliffs dotted here and there with clinging plants to a sturdier scene of towering rocks and steep canyons increasingly populated with beautifully hardy bushes and trees. We’ll even marvel at the occasional oasis of dense, lush green randomly placed in some small canyon.

In the center or the island, we'll be surrounded on every side by stunning cliffs and canyons.

When we reach the middle of the island, we’ll imagine how it all used to be as an ancient volcano and how the time and weather have carved out the monolithic rocks and cliffs rising up steeply on every side. We’ll look down from a quiet little garden through a giant canyon out to the sea, snugly backed by sheer stone walls, with the close white buildings of the tiny village spreading out below us. We’ll look out at the sun sinking behind the tall mountain of our neighboring island Tenerife and shimmering on the sea. We’ll feel completely at peace, our very bones replete with the calm and beauty of the moment.

Simply amazing. We could stay here forever and just gaze.

And as we head back to our lodging in Las Palmas on the northeast coast, we’ll look back one last time and marvel at how the clouds come pouring over the sharp peaks like foaming waves of a sea congealed in space.

Then as we come out of the close twists of the uppers slopes, maybe we’ll get to see a majestic, fiery orange moon sinking down into the dense blanket of fog and clouds covering the land below.

Two local specialties - Gofío Escaldao and Papas Arrugadas

When we head out the next day, we’ll go the other way along the coast, North and West, to check out the greener side of the island. We’ll quietly soak in the colorful villages sprinkled along the road as we listen to swing versions of Christmas songs in our little old car. We’ll stop in the tiny fishing village of Agaeta and eat an absolutely delicious lunch right next to the crystal clear waters of the small rocky port. We’ll enjoy papas mojadas with another version of mojo picón, the freshest of fresh fish, and another local specialty – gofío escaldao. We might be a little tentative at first with this new dish, but we’ll be won over right away by the silky smooth thickness of this savory corn porridge. To finish off our meal, we’ll order some mini ice cream bars from a local ice cream parlor and secretly decided that this is the best coconut ice cream we’ve ever had.

Mmmm... fishies!

Next, we’ll take a short side trip to the village of Teror. Why? Because we’re interested in seeing the spiritual center of Gran Canaria, the home of their patron saint. We’ll meander through the sleepy central squares, gaze up at the giant tree in the main plaza, and peak in at the church service attended by the few faithful carefully following the quiet service. We’ll get some coffee at a nearby café/bar and then head back to Las Palmas, ready to call it a day.

We’ll sleep soundly that night, worn out by three days of constant activity and three nights of less sleep than desirable. And in the morning, we’ll drive back to the airport and say goodbye to the endearing ever present gray clouds hanging over the island capital, the panza de burro as the locals like to call it.  We’ll say goodbye one last time to this lovely island as our plane takes off, and then we’ll turn our heads and nap the hours away.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful? So when you start to give me all the reasons why you can’t go, just remember that when we go…

We might even go swim in these awesome natural swimming pools...

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