Gran Canaria: A miniature continent!

The first week of the new year found us in a spring-cleaning mode. Feeling the need to do a proper cleaning in and out of the boat and also as a preventive measure for the cockroaches roaming in the piers, we spent the next days taking all our belongings out of the boat, removing panels, throwing redundant stuff, vacuuming and cleaning, and setting traps in every place imaginable. This whole process lasted 4 days in total, but at the end Libra looked as good as new, sparkly clean! The next two days I spent working and Jelle helping out Tutti with their engine and supping around.

On Friday, 8th January, Eirini and Peter from MyWay paid us a visit which quickly turned into a full drinks and food feast and we ended up having our last drinks at closing time at the Sailor’s Bay bar. Saturday was Michiel’s birthday and we celebrated all together with coffee and 3 different cakes at Karakter. Another “gezellige” day!

Monday, 11th January was the first day we drove our new rental car, an Opel Corsa. We decided to explore the north side of the island, with first stop the Genovio de Valeron. These are caves where the aboriginals used to store their food. Next stop, Los Tilos de Moya, where we did a little hiking in a pretty forest and saw some cool flowers! The roads in Gran Canaria are rather narrow and windy, but with excellent asphalt, which makes them an open race track for Jelle..even with the Opel Corsa. We continued our trip to Arucas, a beautiful town with colorful buildings, a gothic cathedral and many café/restaurants. We had lunch there before we continued to our last stop, the town of Firgas. Firgas was founded in 1488 and is a quaint little town presenting the history of the Canary islands with tile paintings and decorations around a waterfall in the middle of the town square. Most charming!

We dedicated the next two days for hiking. We started our trip once again from the north, passed the seaside town of Agaete and continued a coastal route to La Aldea de San Nicolas. From there we drove through the mountain roads all the way to Coruna, Las Hoyas and Lugarejos, all tiny villages built amongst the vast forestry mountains. We had a stop in Lugarejos, and enjoyed a coffee overlooking one of the most beautiful views in the Canary islands. Next, we continued our driving to Tamadaba park, where we parked our car and set up our tent. As soon as we had our stuff set up, we began our hiking through the forest until the Roque Faneque, at 1027 meters high! An incredible hike, with breathtaking views over the sea and Tenerife. Imposing cliffs, different sorts of trees and plants, rocky paths.. such a sense of freedom and closeness to nature! We returned the same route back just in time to witness an amazing sunset over the cliffs and numerous trees and enjoy a glass of red wine..What a remarkable day!

Unfortunately, sleeping in the tent proved to be less than remarkable, as the ground was hard and the night was cold, with temperature around freezing point! Next day we woke up tired and sore but we wanted to explore more of the beautiful surroundings. Our hiking experience was less successful this time, because the paths were not clear and we ended up doing more than 5 hours hiking in a circular route. Thankfully, our spirits lifted with a great lunch at the town of Artenara, where we tried local goat and pork dishes! We stayed a second night at our tent, although this time we did a few changes with the sleeping bags arrangements so it was less cold!

Monday, 14th January we packed our camping stuff and climbed back to the car. After a quick breakfast at Artenara, we drove towards some mountain highlights, Tejeda, Roque Nublo , including the highest mountain point of the island, Pozo de las Nieves, as 1949 meters high! Following a nice, windy road downhill we arrived to Maspalomas. Mixed feelings about this place. On one side, impressive sand dunes and wildlife, whereas on the other sand, flocks of tourists rusting away in expensive resorts and touristic shops. Nonetheless, we did something we hadn’t done since we started our trip! We went to the cinema! And a great cinema experience it was, watching a funny movie (“Johny English strikes again”), on a rooftop open-air cinema, covered with a warm blanket, eating pizza and drinking wine! Exhausted but happy, we returned late at night at our beloved Libra.

The next few days were filled with relaxing, working and meeting our friends and neighbors, until 20th January, where we finally hoisted our sails! Our sailing trip towards the south of the island and our destination, Pasito Blanco, was exhilarating! It felt so good to finally be in the open sea again, the wind through our hair, the sun warming up our faces and the sea air filling up our lungs! The weather changed dramatically during our sailing, as we started downwind, then motor sailed and then sailed upwind until we reached the port!

We anchored just outside the Pasito Blanco marina, which proved a secure anchorage, albeit busy with water scooters and touristic catamarans. The town is nothing more than a holiday resort, so after a quick stroll, we had seen pretty much everything. I spent the next day working, while Jelle dived underwater and cleaned the whole boat and propeller, but the water was cold!

On Wednesday, 23rd January we motored for an hour to our next anchorage, outside the Anfi del Mar marina. What a peculiar place! Another resort town, but much nicer and with lively, with plenty of restaurants, cafes and even a decent supermarket. Our first day in this anchorage was spectacular, first because it felt like summer with the sun shining and over 25 degrees and secondly, a boat full of men in uniforms approached us and two of them climbed over the boat. It turns out they were from the Customs (Duane) and they did a routine check, which went smoothly, as Jelle and I were more than accommodating in their queries and even spoke Spanish! They were very polite too and they wished us nice holidays. We spent a few days here, working, relaxing, swimming (!) and even hiking up a nearby cliff!

On Saturday, 26th January we left our beloved anchorage Anfi del Mar with our mind made that we will visit again, and headed towards Puerto Mogan. Once again, we anchored outside the marina and with our dinghy we explored the “Venice” of the Canary islands, or in other words, the one canal this little resort town has and checked out the marina. We guessed that the only common this place has with the Italian town is the mass tourism! We managed to swim and snorkel, and saw some colorful fish! The only advantages are the good holding and shelter from the trade winds this anchorage provides, and the flat sea in the morning, which enabled Jelle to sup long and far away!

Next day we sail towards Tenerife! Do not miss our next blog post, which will be all about the largest Canary island, water roller coasters, mountain peaks and orcas!