Today we are docked at the island of Gran Canaria, the third largest of the seven main islands that comprise the Canary Islands. The Capital of the Canaries shifts back and forth between the islands of Tenerife and Gan Canaria. We did a full day excursion leaving the pier at La Palmas and stopping first at the Cathedral at Arcus designed by students of Gaudi. Anyone of has been to Barcelona has seen multiple examples of Gaudi’s architectural achievements. Our next stop was the gardens at Jardin de La Marquesa where peacocks roamed freely among the beautiful flowers and plants.
Leaving Arucas, we started our tour of the country villages in the mountains stopping in Teror. The village featured colonial Spanish architecture with all the carved wood highlighted in the doors, window coverings, and balconies. It is Sunday, so we could only tour the churches between masses. The shops were closed, but there was a wonderful market filled with produce, meats, cheese, and flowers. If you wanted cheaply made goods, those were also available. Boris and I enjoyed a chimney cake, like a tall spiral funnel cake. You could choose your topping-caramel, cinnamon, or coconut.
We didn’t realize that we were headed next to lunch. We ate at Balcon de Zamora which had wonderful views of the valley and out to the sea. When we arrived the clouds were so thick that the windows looked frosted. As we ate the sky cleared, slowly revealing the view. We started with an appetizer course of bread, garlic sauce, and potatoes. The second course was a vegetable soup, thick with potatoes. I choose the fish as my main course, served with-you guessed it-potatoes. Flan was the dessert. The top 2/3 of the mountain was covered in clouds which did not clear as we ascended, so the hour and half after lunch was spent traveling to a mountaintop view that did not materialized. We did experience dramatic weather changes. It was sunny and 69 degrees at the pier and 40 degrees and raining at the top of the mountain.
While traveling the guide did tell us an interesting story about the indigenous people of the island living here when the conquistadors arrived. They lived in caves with woman as the head of household. Each woman had four “husbands”. Two handled the farming, one tended the animals, and the fourth husband was for the entertainment of the wife. The wife changed her fourth husband every six months. The arrival of the Catholic Church changed these policies. The cave homes are now highly coveted. It is unlawful to create new ones, but you can add additional rooms in front of the cave. They pass from generation to generation to the oldest born, male or female. They never come on the open market.
I am currently on the hunt for three additional husbands. Boris will be tending the animals.
We traveled back to the port city of Las Palmas and visited the Cathedral, City Hall, and Plaza Santa Ana with its bronze dog statues. The Canary Islands are named for a breed of dog, canum in Latin, found here by ancient explorers. The highlight of La Vegueta (the old quarter) is Casa Museo Colon, a former palace believed to be the residence of Christopher Columbus before he departed for the New World. There are copies of early navigational maps, nautical instruments, models of Columbus’s ships, and pre-Columbian artifacts. We arrived too late for me to see the floor dedicated to 16th through 19th century paintings.
After leaving La Vegueta, we once again traveled uphill to view the Baldama Crater. There is a single residence at the bottom where a 90 year-old man lives. Our guide told us he travels uphill (quite a climb) each Sunday to sell his produce at the market. We were unable to spot him traveling up or back down. Next it was back to the ship.
It was still warm outside, so I decided to spend some time at the pool. We ordered dinner on our veranda and stayed in for a movie. No disco tonight.