Monday, December 28, 2009

December 25, 2009

Christmas Sausage Party

Merry Christmas from Gran Canaria! We arrived here last Friday after a long drive from Dresden to Frankfurt first in a blizzard, then just in the middle of the night to catch our early flight. We flew on a scary old plane which didn’t sound so good on take off and had a rough landing (the first sign of scariness were the ashtrays in the armrests), but we made it, and hope to fly on a differentplane back.

It’s been an interesting stay, though slightly disappointing. We’ve probably already visited the best 2 Canary Islands, at least for our taste, so we are a bit spoiled: somehow Tenerife and La Gomera

have more character and friendlier inhabitants than Gran Canaria. Anyway, it hasn’t been boring, especially not today. But let’s start at the beginning.

Hooray, palm trees and mountains!

Oh no, el nublo and crazy streets!

We started by exploring the island a bit, with our first goal being El Roque Nublo. This is a cliff in the center of the island that is often enshrouded in fog, as the name says. As luck would have it, it was also rainy and foggy and we saw nothing of El Roque Nublo but its

mantle of fog. The drive was nice, though, as you can see.

I got to see my favorite Christmas decorations in the whole world (at least in the parts I've seen so far). These seem to be loved in each Canary Island we have visited, the Santas and three wise men who seem to be breaking

into many apartments in every town. As a child I always wondered how Santa got into your house if you didn't have a fireplace, or if there was a fire going, since we heated with a woodstove.

We ventured on to Playa del Ingles, a tourist town even worse than neighboring Maspalomas, where our dingy bungalow with a mean cleaning lady who throws things and curses is. From there we had a good view of the Maspalomas dunes and walked along the beach for a while.

There’s Hooters here too! For the uninitiated, Hooters is a bar with crappy food that is famous for the large breasts and skimpy clothing of its waitresses. The Hooters in Bay City, Michigan, has larger-breasted and skimpier-clothed waitresses than that in Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria, so we didn’t eat there in Gran Canaria.

We didn’t buy this bread, since there are some fantastic baguettes (but a massive lack of pan dulce, delicious

sweet bread which you can get in La Gomera, and which I had been looking forward to) available here, but I do love the name and the packaging. I wonder if they serve the burgers at Hooters on these buns...

Did President Obama decide not to send the inmates from the closed (or closing?) Guantanamo Bay prison to Illinois, but to sell them to Spain to be employed at this restaurant?

We drove to the north of the island by following the road around the west side of the island from

Maspalomas. On the way we saw lots of little waterfalls created by the thunderstorm the night before.

We also saw another result of the rainstorm: fallen rocks! That’s why there are signs telling you not to drive on certain streets in the rain.

Here’s the view from one of the most beautiful places on the island according to our guidebook: Mirador del Balcon. It was pretty nice, and there was a funny guy selling cake in the parking lot who yelled at everybody for parking the wrong way.

On the way we even did something cultural, we visited some caves where the early Canarians lived. These were pretty neat, unfortunately you can’t go into them as our outdated tour seemed to imply.

The last 2 days we’ve been out walking in the Maspalomas dunes. They are quite beautiful, rolling dunes, with a mix of black and light sand, and we had a fun time running around in them. But it got pretty interesting at the end of our walk today, when we wound up in the cruising area of the dunes, which is the area with lots of brushy plants. We were surrounded by naked men, all looking for love! We had read that there were meeting points for men somewhere in the dunes, but were surprised to stumble right into the middle of it (it's not several meeting points, but one huge area) and while trying to figure out which direction to go, to be suddenly and silently surrounded. We weren't alone, there was a couple jogging who jogged into the bushes and right back out... But it was clear to the guys that we (and the other clothed tourists) were there for a different reason, so we were left alone.

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