Vacation on miniature continent

Dunes of MaspalomasDunes of Maspalomas

Miniature continent – that is how people of Gran Canaria like to call their island, because of highly variable climate and landscape. Gran Canaria is round shaped volcanic island of Canary islands archipelago in Atlantic ocean, 210 km from the coast of Africa.

While one would assume sand of volcanic island to be dark, the dunes of Maspalomas, located between Playa del Inglés and Maspalomas, look nice and bright – the sand is brought to dunes by sandstorms in Africa. So besides close location to continent of Africa, on the dunes of Maspalomas one can actually touch the sand of Africa.

Diameter of the island is about 50 km, but one could not be more wrong thinking that driving across the island would take an hour the most. The grand tour, visiting just a selection of the island, took us 10 hours.

Margus on pine thorns

Our first sightseeing spots included Crater of Bandama, which I had earlier looked up on satellite map, and Jardin Botanico Canario Viera y Clavijo – a botanical garden with wide variety of cactuses and trees.

Blooming cactusCactuses

One of the passengers on the bus of the grand tour was a camera guy, who was recording the tour to sell later. Our fantastic tour guide Ave had already warned us that the camera guy will likely shock us with the crazy stunts attempting to catch good views. ..and so it was. On many occasions girls blenched realizing that the camera was again and again up on a rock or on the edge of a steep gorge. He did his wildest stunts on steep mountain road curves. Where many women on the bus did not dare to look out of the window, he asked bus driver to open the back side door and he reached out of the door with his camera while bus continuing racing curves at the same speed.

I could not remember his name, but Estonian tourists had already given him nickname Krõps. Ave had also warned, that if Krõps feels like you are not taking good enough photos with your camera, he just comes and takes your camera to take photos himself. And again, it was. Few times I noticed how he took someones else’s cameras, but at one point he took my camera as well. Next 2 photos taken by Krõps.

Ranno with cactuses in Gran Canaria

Margus & Ranno

One complication with Krõps was that he did not speak a word of English language. I soon got my camera back with good photos at the botanical garden, but later, visiting a church, I had hard time understanding what he was telling me to do. So I just kept taking photos and showing him hoping I caught the shots he was telling me to take. I understood no word of Spanish, he understood no word of English. He was very friendly and nice guy, but I think there is no way to tell him ‘thanks, but no’, even if I spoke Spanish. Nevertheless, very nice guy.

I saw parrots flying around on the island, but never managed to get them on photo. After many photos of plants, here are some representatives of canarian fauna I caught with my camera.

blue bird on palm treeIguana

Even though weather was mostly cloudy while we were trying to have our look at the rock figures, we did have our moments when the figures appeared between the clouds.

Ranno in the mountains of Gran CanariaA plant in the mountains

I don’t know what this plant is, but I found it up in the mountains.

The hotel which had been booked for us, had been overbooked so we we upgraded to a better hotel nearby, Green Oasis. We got in very late and Margus cooked us a quick porridge at home. He had prepared for a hotel with no food included. However, at the reception it did seem as if the guy said that the breakfast was included. It had also seemed as if he said that all three meals of the day were included but I was sure we misunderstood that part. We were stuffed after buffet breakfast and learned, that all three meals of the day are actually included indeed. I think it was the next day that we figured out, that all the drinks are included too. Even getting to eat all day exceeded our hopes, but unlimited drinks we could have never hoped for. So every evening, at 9 pm when children disco started at the club house, we headed there for drinks to start our evening. Apparently Margus must have tried it before, but I had never tasted Ron Miel (honey rum) and was rather skeptic about the drink. Surprisingly, I loved it and wanted it again and again every evening, when starting our club evening.

As of the children disco, I think that represents very well local understanding of different times of the day.

Our surprises about ‘all included’ statement of the hotel were not over. Waking up from our late afternoon nap, it was already dark. I felt something against my legs and when I looked to see what was there, I saw some dark object and assuming it was my sweater, I tried to push it off the bed with my foot. While I was about to kick it, the ‘sweater’ stood up and stretched. I shortly understood that we had gato negro (black cat) as our own pet. What had happened, was that at the two floored bungalow our bedroom was on second floor and we had left the front door on the first floor open. Even so, it was bizarre that the cat had came in to the bungalow, was not satisfied with the sofa downstairs and came up to our bed and dared to snuggle close to my feet to sleep. Of course it is scary too, but right there I was deeply moved by it and just fell in love with the cat. I sneaked out of the bed to get my camera and flash. We were sure that when we started to move, or at least when the flash fired, the cat would get scared and run out, but even after continuous flashes our gato negro remained calm and all that could be read out from its actions, was that it would have loved to continue the sleep I woke it up from. Yet, as we were about to go out for our dinner and children disco (that is drinks), we could not leave the cat on the bed. Margus said the cat had looked offended and did not want to leave when he took it out, and I suppose we did hurt our pet’s feelings. There was another cat who had came to sleep on the sofa downstairs but never again our gato negro.

Gato negro

Evenings, after starting at the children disco, we spent at Yumbo Centrum, has shops, bars and entertainment for different tastes of gay men. We were pretty decent and most of the evenings went home by ourselves, just two of us.

Most of the daylight hours we spent at the gay section of the Maspalomas beach. It can be found by the beach bar number 7, or by obvious rainbow flag fluttering on top of it, or just by finding oneself at a beach area surrounded by hundreds of naked guys. During the week, despite high factor sun protector, seems as I did get some tan too.

The weather for fantastic for an Estonian on vacation – sunny, 20..30 C, barely any clouds and no rain until the last night. If in Estonia such warm Summer evening always means hundreds of midges to hide from, then on Gran Canaria, I saw no midges and even only two flies during the whole time.

Ranno frontal in ocean

We got some nice decent pics of Margus at the dunes and beach, but as seen, I could not keep my shorts on again. I know I must be an exhibitionist to be flaunting with the pics here, but hey, I did cover up the indelicate parts.

Margus in Maspalomas sand dunesMargus in waves

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