Tuesday, 25 March 1997

Canaries with Attitude

My travels and other animals, a brief account of a holiday unbounded

Evening, Wednesday 25 March 1997
Las Palmas, Gran Canaria

I’ve just sat down to tea and crisps (try it, you might be surprised), and have reminded Christian and Nicolette that they wanted to go to aerobics tonight. Somehow enthusiasm was a little damper than previous discussions, but we have had a long(ish) day.

Yesterday evening was started, at nine o’clock, with a stroll down the paseo to a Lebanese restaurant. The wind is still with us, and it is beginning to eke into our bones, so jeans and jumpers are in order. The food is simple but good and includes falafel, homous, and tabula as famous representatives of Lebanese cuisine. We arranged for a meal for two, I was a bit suspicious at this stage, to be made up of any other the starters that the restaurateur so fit. First, a plate of olives and pickled gherkins arrived and we dabbled with that. In a few minutes the table was covered with dishes, including all of the above, and pitta bread to assist in the consuming. This task complete, dishes were cleared away in order to make way for this dish of glazed chicken and salad that Nicolette raved about. It was definitely good but my earlier suspicions were beginning to sway the other way. We dutifully finished this dish, only to have it replaced with a bigger dish of a range of kebabs on a mound of rice. This w
as too much, we couldn’t finish this one of and resigned having lost to the restaurateur’s choice.

After paying the minuscule bill, 5200 pesetas (under £8 each), and complimenting the English speaking Lebanese restaurateur in Spanish we wandered further down the paseo to a bar with friends from previous gallivantings. The bar was owned by a Zanzibar-born man (British by colonialism), and run by a Spanish women who also spoke English. We ordered, and paid for, drinks and joined in the fray. I started on the vodka and tonics again, and found there was no measuring system, you got what seemed to be right. This resulted in some of the strongest longs I’ve ever had.

Conversations went along the lines of ‘We haven’t had such bad weather since before Christmas’ and ‘It’s due to clear up at the weekend’. This was heartening as Christian and I would be back in blighty by then, enduring the last of the mad March winds followed by the joys of the April showers. It all seemed a bit too arranged. We get here, the weather gets windy and dull, we leave and it all brightens up again. Can’t say I’d blame it, and it hasn’t really been a big problem.

Whilst all this ‘weather’ conversation is going on, a row was developing behind us. It seemed that the bar owner didn’t like the choice of music by the bar staff. He was, shall we say, a little wobbly on his seat. He kept on wanting ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean put on. He then sat at the bar and proceeded to mime the keyboard part, with complete accuracy of course. Well it was accurate if you took into account the amount of feeling that went into the piece, this is often underestimated in deference to technical accuracy. We decided that he needed helping along and also mimed the part, although I noticed there were some interesting interpretations of the second break. He came over to our group, some of who knew him, and started saying how much he loved to be British, what a marvelous person the Queen was, and how you couldn’t beat them. He did use some other words, well actually just one other word every other word, to add emphasis, something about multiplication.

I stayed in the bar after Christian and Nicolette went home, chatted for a bit longer then toddled off myself finally getting to bed at about half past two.

Today, I was the last to get up, just after ten. Christian knocked on the door to say she was going out to buy the food for the day and I needed to listen for the ‘phone. I got up and decided ablutions were required at which point the ‘phone did indeed ring. Agreed the time and place to meet, and headed for the shower.

We drove down to the south again, hoping the clouds would lift, as before, the further we went. It didn’t look as promising but we stopped at another beach spot car park. The beach was a little scramble around the coastal rocks, which reminded me of trips to the ‘Strangles’ beach in north Cornwall. Walking on compressed sheol, dry dusty environment, a beach at the end, and the words ‘Playa Nudista’ on the rocks. No wait a minute, Cornwall never had those words, I wander what they mean? Okay, I know ‘Playa’ means beach, so what can ‘Nudista’ mean?

On arrival at the beach everything became clear, or more like visible, leaving no need for imagination. Nicolette said that it really was a mixed beach and there was no need to strip off. I breathed a small sigh of relief as burnt back is one thing, burnt thingamajigs is a totally different kettle of fish, ball park, galaxy. We set up about half way down and released pink skin to the elements, which by now were promising to be a little more heated. After a small frying, Christian and I headed to the water to cool off a little, we started by playing frisbee in the shallows, which led to a few none-too-accidental wayward shots. When I realized I was up to my neck in water, still wearing my glasses, I knew I’d been tangoed.

We spent the day, jumping into the ocean to cool off, reading with the occasional distraction, and attempting to do various ‘game’ type activities. These games amounted to attempting to surf on 10 foot long wave breaks and the beach craze of batting a ball between two people. This, the locals demonstrated, is incredibly easy and possible at about ninety miles an hour. Whenever we picked up bat and ball, it seemed impossible to do at twenty miles an hour with high lobs for the receiver’s convenience. Other games the locals played, included ‘who can drop in from the highest height’. A game not totally familiar but quite acceptable to parachutists who jumped off the slopes above the beach to land within the beach towels below to much applause.

On arrival back in Las Palmas I dashed to the shower to clean out sand from all the crevices only to find the sunblock I applied earlier had worn off. I was pinker than a carnation at a May wedding. What fun that will be later tonight.

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