It’s been just over 3 weeks since we arrived In Gran Canaria and we’re liking it so far. But, as with any new country, there are some differences.
The windows open inwards
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This actually makes sense because, anybody walking past on the outside, won’t hurt themselves by walking into an open window.
90% of the houses are built on the side of a hill or mountain and the roads up to those houses are very narrow and often zig zag back and forth.
Drivers scream through these narrow streets, often taking up half of the wrong side of of the road, forcing us to drive on the shoulder or the very edge of our side of the road.
The flowers are the vibrant colours of my childhood – hibiscus, bougainvillia etc.
Lots of banana trees everywhere. Bananas have been grown in the Canary Islands since the 1880s, thanks to the hot and dry climate.
There is only one shopping centre on 3 levels, where we live in Playa del Cura, and most of these are restaurants. The other shops are a small supermarket, a hairdresser/spa (found an amazing hairdresser there!) and a real estate agent. The whole area is beautifully decorated in mosaic murals and beautiful tiles.
To shop for things other than basic grocery items, we go to the nearest, larger towns of Puerto Rico or Puerto de Mogan which is about a 10 minute drive from us. For even more of a choice, the mall in Vecindario is the place to go – about a 30 minute drive – or Ikea. There is no one-stop-shop in the South of the island. You learn very quickly where to go for the things you need.
The people are very friendly – both local and expats – and always willing to help at any time. We made friends with one of the local shop keepers who sells clothes and beach stuff to the tourists. He speaks Spanish to us so we can learn it quicker and he’s a world of information when we ask about where to buy the things we need.
In Canada, if you ask for a glass of wine, they pour you a 6 oz or 9 oz and charge you accordingly. Here, they hand you a glass (the size varies according to the establishment) and pour out the wine until the glass is full. The cost is the same no matter the size of the glass.
Spirits, like vodka etc., don’t seem to be measured. The server simply sloshes a good amount into your glass and make a guess as to whether it’s a tot measure or not. In actual fact, it’s usually 2 or 3 shots instead of one.
Almost everything is half the cost of what it is in Canada.
The beaches are beautiful and clean and the ocean is warm. We try to spend as much time as we can here and make a point to walk on the beach after dinner every evening. It’s a very pleasant way of getting fit.
Many women go topless on the beaches and it’s perfectly legal and acceptable. Nobody stares or gives disapproving looks. Everyone just gets on with living their best life and enjoying life to the fullest. Nobody cares about body shape or size.
We spend most of our time between our favourite Italian coffee shop/restaurant
And the Irish pub above it. Many of the British expats frequent this pub, so it’s a good place to make new friends.
There’s no garbage/rubbish collection from your house or apartment. Dotted all over the island at various intervals, is an array of bins, all serving a different purpose. There’s several for your normal household rubbish, one for paper/cardboard, one for plastic and one for glass.
When it’s time to take out your rubbish, you simply walk or drive to the nearest drop off and put it in one or several of these bins.
The cats have settled in well and loving a warm weather. Lucy is obsessed with flies and spends most of her day chasing them. So far, she’s caught two!
As I mentioned earlier, the streets in the smaller towns are very narrow, and local drivers seem to have little regard as to which side of the road they should drive on. Most of the time, they’ll hover somewhere between the middle to the wrong side of the road. This, to me, is an accident waiting to happen and that’s just what happened to us a couple of weeks ago.
It was Easter Sunday and, while everyone headed south where it’s hotter, we set out in search of a winery we’d heard about called Bodegas Mondalon in a little mountain town called Los Hoyos.
As we entered the village, we once again found ourselves driving in narrow cobbled streets. Being Easter Sunday, everything was closed and there was nobody about. We were minding our own business enjoying the quaint streets and pretty houses, when a car came around the bend towards us, on the wrong side of the road and going like a bat out of hell. Michael hugged our side of the road as much as he could, but there was no shoulder and nowhere else to go lest we drive into the side of a house. The driver saw us and corrected his position, but it wasn’t enough and he clipped our driver’s side mirror leaving it hanging by a few wires. Everybody came to a screeching halt and several people suddenly appeared from a little building that I can only assume is the local bar.
Several swear words were uttered by both Michael and myself. The man driving the other car, and his wife, got out and came over to us. Michael opened the glove box with the car key to get out our insurance papers and in doing so, he must have hit the “lock” button on the key. He then closed the door and locked our only key in in the car. Shit!
Fortunately, the two front windows were open, but only about 4 inches and certainly not enough to unlock the car to retrieve the key from the lock in the open glove box.
The people watching from the bar, saw that we were struggling to open the door and they all came to our aid. Nobody spoke English and we didn’t speak much Spanish, yet everyone understood each other perfectly.
One of the people in this group, was a little old man, very wrinkled with age and the sun and stood only about 5 feet. He had several front teeth missing. This man was the one who was determined to help us retrieve the key from inside the car. Being the smallest, he had someone lift him up so that his body was in a horizontal position, while he tried to put his arm into the front window as far as it would go. He looked so comical, that I almost forgot that we’d had an accident. 🤣🤣
After several tries and lots of instruction from his friends, the man eventually managed to lower the window a bit more and he reached in and got our key out of the glove box lock. I almost kissed him, but his lack of deodorant stopped me. I did, however, shake his hand and utter “gracias” several times to him.
Honestly! You can’t make this stuff up. 😁
After we exchanged all the necessary information, we went on our way. We never did find the winery, but we weren’t much in the mood for it anymore, so we just headed back home again and went to the beach.
Even though it takes about an hour to get from one end of the island to the other, there are two very distinct weather systems and several micro climates.
The weather in the North is cooler and it rains more. The vegetation is lush and green. The weather in the South (where were live) is hotter and dryer and it almost never rains. The landscape is much less lush and is desert-like in a lot of places interspersed with palm trees, bougainvillias and other flowers that don’t require much water.
The next day we visited historical Arucas (that’s another post) and did some shopping in a store that seemed to sell everything, very similar to the Dollar Store in North America. Michael found this wig and had some fun with it. 🤣