Saturday, November 28, 2015

Gran Canaria Day 7: Relocation, Exploration, Imagination and some folks departing from Vacation

Paul wandering about on Market Day in Galdar

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

Our lovely new friend Jill from Dover who is about to tackle a calzone!
Today is the end of the organized segment of our tour. First off, let me say that the British company, EXPLORE. ADVENTURE CENTER whom I have been travelling with since 1988 is amazing!! One of the many nice things about this company is that they keep their vacations very economical. And since it is a UK company, most of our fellow travellers are British, with an occasional Scot, Welshman or even another ilk of European. Rarely, there is an American. This time,we were pleased to have a Canadian cadre as well. The beauty of the company, Explore,  is that all the hotels are perfectly adequate and the budget is a big deal.  Nothing is exorbitant. And what we find is that outdoor budget travel brings together a wonderful group of people. This group was amazing. We travelled with a geologist, a judge, a school teacher, a doctor, a nurse, a psychotherapist, an economist, 3 government employees with what amounts to HUD in Canada, an IT specialist, a college lecturer, a tree surgeon and his wife and a priest led by a Dutch actor and male model cum tour leader. What a wonderful group of humanity and such fun. We are massively grateful to these folks for enriching our experience. Today, unfortunatley, we had to bid them goodbye. We will not forget this amazing group and their kindness and humor.  Fortunately, we did spend until late in the afternoon with them in transport to La Palma, the main city of Gran Canaria.

Once we boarded the bus, our destination initially was the city of Galdar. It is best known for the archeological find of the Cueva Pintada (painted caves.) The pre-Hispanic history of the Canaries is not well known, but they do know there were natives here. Human genome project has shown them to be Berber (barbarians, per the Romans) of North Africa. No one knows exactly how they arrived but there were multiple settlements on Gran Canaria associated with organized cities and crops of wheat, beans and bananas. The Cueva Pintada is a part of a settelment discovered beneath the modern city of Galdar.
The ongoing excavation under the modern city of Galdar. This area was the city center near modern shops and residences.
The pre-Hispanic Berber community was cooperating to grow crops at the arrival of the Spanish. Apparently a Frenchman landed first in the 1500s but Spain tried to take advantage of the islands resources. 
A reconstructed round stone home
The houses around Galdar were round and made of stone. The area that is excavated consisted of storage areas for grain and several stores as well as the painted cave, where various religious rituals were held.. They worshipped idols here.

Proposed internal dwelling design.
They unearthed many pieces of pottery, tools, decorative items and also mummies in the region.

The highlight of the excavation is this panel of the Painted Cave. The meaning is not known, but there is some suspicion that due to the geometric being based on the number 12, it may have been a calendar or crop planting diagram. However, since mummies were found in this chamber, and it is obvious that this was a funery area, it may be related to a death ritual.
When I asked where the mummies were, I was told they "disappeared."

There are some native mixed individuals still on the islands. The guide told us that on Gran Canaria, less than 10% of people have native heritage, but on the smaller island of Fuereventura, up to 40% of the residents can still claim the blood of the Guanache heritage.  

The museum was extremely well done and modern. Additionally, they have two movies which can be presented in a variety of languages which explain the site, its founding and the lives of the ancient people who inhabited the island from about the 5th century AD until 1500.

We absolutely loved the museum, and the history. After living in a tiny tomato growing village for a week, it seemed daunting to be in a city of 25,000 people!

We then visited the cathedral briefly, the Iglesia de Santiago de Caballeros. We love the look of the simpler, less ornate churches we have seen here. They are reminiscent of many on the St James Way.
Per usual, the cathedral is located on the town square. Fortunately. also it is a pedestrian area.
We did also discover that the Canary Islands have their own St James Way and of course, it runs right past the church here.

The altar. Again, prayers were offered for the sale of a certain home in Knoxville. Yep, you know who you are! We did not mention the wine tunnel you plan to build in your new neighborhood while supplicating for your home sale :)

One thing we see a version of here that is gaining popularity in the US, but is a tradition here is market day. The local farmers and butchers and fisherman's place here was small but colorful.
Pulpo. Just boil it, pour olive oil on it and sprinkle with paprika!

Salted sardines

Prickly pear cactus fruit. They make jellies and juice from these.

Wax beans

A lovely vegetable stand.
I love to see how the locals live, shop and eat. One very disappointing item, however, is the attempt to get Europeans to embrace the concept of Black Friday. It's a bit depressing, really. We saw quite a bit of advertising for Black Friday in remote town in the Atlantic Ocean of only 25,000 people. A sad sight.
The Canaries embracing an American tradition I am not particularly proud of...
From this city, we bused our way into Las Palmas. There is a very big beach here, considered by some to be the best in Europe. Paul booked us in a nice hotel next to a wonderful city park slightly off the beach called Bed and Chic. The room is lovely.

The bed. Very comfy. Makes for a great nap.

Spacious shower.

The view outside our window onto Parque Santa Catalina. They were giving a native dance demonstration when we arrived.
We checked in and then enjoyed a last lunch with our new UK buddies and guide, Bert. We will so miss them. We had a lovely if large Italian meals before our last farewells.
Sara, from Wales is quite pleased with a vegetarian pizza.
After we bid our compadres adieu, Paul and I took a much deserved 2 hour nap. We have been getting up early every day on vacation and doing extended hikes. We aren't complaining, mind you, just stating we have never accommodated jet lag, hikers fatigue, etc. Need I say the rest time was glorious??? I did not even have to give Paul a coloring book (but that's another story...)

From there, what else could we do but go up the roof of the hotel. admire the view and have a gin and tonic????
Nighttime view of the Park and downtown La Palma

A happy gin and tonic recipient.

Gin and tonic on a roof. What's not to love?
From here we made our way to evening repast at a lovely very tiny restaurant of 8 tables called Don Quixote. The shtick here is that you cook your own meat on a hot stone. It was so much fun and really delicious. I must send out kudos to the waiters who were massively attentive and minimally obtrusive. Bravo!
Pimientos de Padron...roasted peppers. Very simple.Simply delicious.

Internal view of Don Quixote restaurant. 8 tables for but massively good taste.

Meat cooked on a stone. SMOKIN!
Overall, this was  a very pleasurable day with a mix of history and unfortunately a little sadness. It's always a bit heartbreaking to meet someone, really appreciate them and then realize, you most likely will never see them again. It's why we live in the now...appreciating them for whatever time we are given. We are grateful to have met them and shared the experience of travel. Samuel Clemens spoke the truth and these folks helped us realize it:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.”
Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

Paul's Ponderings:  We moved on today to Las Palmas and unfortunately left our lovely hiking friends to move onward.   Overall, a slow day, with a stop in Galdar and then a lunch in Las Palmas, followed by a nap and then a leisurely dinner.   Not too sloppy as we say at home.   

A great time here to date....we look forward to the following week, which will start with a slow day!

No comments:

Post a Comment