Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Gran Canaria Day 11: Dunes and Moons, So to Speak

Maspalomas Sand Dune Natural Area: 
A couple of days back, Paul and I were headed to the Maspalomas Sand Dune Park when we found out we were there on the wrong day for the tour. Last evening, one of us was not feeling all that well (you guess who it is!) and we decided riding around in a bumpy 4X4 might not be a wise choice. But we still wanted to see this 1000 acre sand dune park in the southernmost stretch of Gran Canaria. We heard the dunes are really spectacular and with the deep blue ocean contrasting behind it, made a lovely place to walk and enjoy nature. So we caught the #30 bus right outside our hotel and off we went for a "tamer" version of travel...transportation wise. Not necessarily a tame location however!

We were aware that Gran Canaria is a popular destination for gay travel, but we didn't know why--other than it is sunny and warm most of the time. And like most of Europe, there are some naturalist beaches. But it is much more than that, it seems, for us prudish white people from America.

To access the dune park, you basically walk through the lobby of the hotel Riu and out to the dunes. There is a visitor center as you reach the dunes, but the hours are not regular and the helpfulness factor is basically zero. That said, the initial sight is lovely.

A fully clothed white North American tourist prepares unknowingly to enter the world of dunes and "moons."
We were forewarned by our guidebook that a stroll through the dunes might include an encounter with a partially or fully unclothed European. Of course, I see naked people all the time, so this was not a big issue. But here, I saw naked people everywhere! The beach was expected. Also, not an issue, but not expecting that many naked folks walking or standing around on dunes. Apparently, I did not really understand the hierarchy and process in the dunes.

Yep, naked people are walking around pretty much all over the dunes.
After we left today, I looked up the dunes from a non-scientific viewpoint to see what this was all about. The dunes are a "cruising" beach. There are many sections, dependent on your persuasion. There is a young gay section, a mixed gay section, a  middle aged gay section and even an old codger or shall we say "mature" area. After making the walk from the beginning of the dunes to the lighthouse, it seems to me it is basically divided up by the distance between your testicles and the sand. The mature section definitely had a higher heft and hairiness count. The area with mature men is called the thornbush. We literally saw men just standing around advertising the wares. There was also a section called "P hill" for swinging couples. We did not see anyone in corpus delecti, mind you, but reading about it, it is okay if you watch. We didn't stand around much--just kept trucking through the couple of miles of dunes out to the beach. This a culture  I knew existed, but haven't been in the middle of before.  Frankly, it is so hot amongst these dunes, I cannot understand why the beach isn't a better alternative. There are cops on patrol in the dunes, but only to keep "distracted" sun worshippers from having their belongings stolen during periods of "inattention."

The shrubby "thornbush" area. Not sure why this would appeal to a naked person, but whatever.
We did conclude our educational experience by going to the non-nude beach (because I just wouldn't subject my fellow humans to it), and getting a gander at the lighthouse...which now seems much more like a giant phallic symbol than anything else.

Faro Maspalomas 
We did spend an hour or so sunbathing on the beach and reading books which was quite delightful. We didn't want to go home from the Canary Islands and have anyone find out we never went to a beach. Peer pressure.
Sunbathing Paul Parris style
From here, it was just hanging out at the hotel and then off to dinner at a place we are told is highly rated by the locals, Allende.It's more or less a high end snack/tapas place. Food porn alert!
Allende interior

Three hummus platter

A lovely temperanillo

Carpaccio with mushrooms and arugula

A man who is serious about hamburgers...eating them with a fork! He did this exact same thing a year ago in Oregon and I took a photo of that too. Isn't there some saying about those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it?  :)

Torta Allende. A serious chocolate bomb!
The meal was really nice and a great end to a very educational day. Gotta love it!

They dined on mince, and slices of quince, Which they ate with a runcible spoon; And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, They danced by the light of the moon.

Paul's Ponderings:   A late start due to yours truly not feeling well late last night, but an interesting day nonetheless.   We bussed our way over to Maspalomas/Playa Ingles and strolled about the dunes a bit as noted above.   We don't have that experience at home as they say....but it's all good.   I'll say that if you are hanging around out there naked, you need a lot of sun protectant.    Very warm and very sunny and hot.

After that, a low key day hanging around on the beach ourselves followed by dinner at Allende, which was pretty darn good and near the gin bar we have found a few blocks from the hotel.

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