Do you know where the Canary Islands are? No, really. Like could you point them out on a map?
That’s what I thought. Bonus points if you can tell me which country they pertain to. As in, whose government runs the show?
We arrived in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria after a year in the Caribbean and Africa.
Specifically, we arrived in Las Palmas after two and a half weeks in Sierra Leone, among the poorest nations in the world. Las Palmas looked like heaven.
Our berth was 100 yards from a gleaming white shopping mall, it’s neon lights piercing the night and the sun reflecting off three stories of floor to ceiling windows in the day.
After the dust of Africa, it was clean and quiet. After the colorful cotton patterns of West Africa, here girls were wearing skinny jeans, peasant skirts, flats and jelly shoes.
I was in my element speaking Spanish again, though with a strange accent even different from the mainland.
Shops closed between 1-5, and the restaurants on the boardwalk stayed open until midnight even during the week. I saw children on the playground at 11 p.m.
I started out spending the weekend with some girlfriends away from the ship in a borrowed flat.
We enjoyed simple pleasures: cooking our own dinner, relaxing on the balcony and giggling on the couch until late.
During the day, we walked along the seaside cliffs and marveled at the beauty of the island.
Back at the ship, we hosted a cultural expo on the ship, and turned our smaller bookstore room into a coffee house where the Canarios could linger and chat.
Later we went on to one of the other islands in this archipelago, and spent time in Tenerife, apparently a huge vacation spot for Europeans for its warmth and beaches.
Life there was slower than the main city.
I love the Canary islands. I’d love to go back and visit again some day.
But I think the reason why they are most special is that after spending some of the five days sailing from Sierra Leone talking on the decks with this guy, in Las Palmas we made it official.
He left the next day for Norway, and I wouldn’t see him for four months. I got to know the call center (a place with phone booths that sells telephone minutes; they’re very common in ports. Perhaps not so much now that mobile phones are king.) near the ship in Las Palmas quite well.
The journey with this funny Dutchman began here.