Thursday 10 March 2022 – The forecast for clear skies and sunshine was propitious for the whole island, so we decided that it would be a good idea to head for one of the highest points, Pico de las Nieves (1949m above sea level), to see what the view was like.
It was pretty good.
Looking to the north-west we could even see the island of Tenerife; in the foreground is another of Gran Canaria’s landmarks, Roque Nublo, a 67m tall volcanic rock (its top is 1,813 m above sea level).
Looking to the south-west is also a great view.
and dead to the west, you can even see the vast area given over to growing fruit and vegetables at La Aldea.
After the Pico, we spent the rest of the morning getting to the north of the island, via several other lovely views, such as this one, from south of Tejeda.
We stopped at lots of miradors to take snapshots and I won’t bore you with an endless succession of the views; I hope the above (and previous posts) gives you the general idea.
As we approached the coast, we did get a nice view of the town of Galdar, clinging to the slopes of its conical hill.
and a nice view along the coast towards Las Palmas, the capital of Gran Canaria.
We weren’t just idly driving around, though. We had an objective, Cenobio de Valerón. This is an aboriginal barn, built by the ancient Canarians more than 800 years ago.
They hacked out more than 350 cavities using stone picks, and used them for the storage of cereals and other foods. The term “cenobium” comes from the idea that the chambers of the site were used as the rooms of a kind of convent in which young women of the noble classes were secluded until the moment they married. But we now know there wasn’t a grain of truth in that notion.
Once food was stored in a silo, it was sealed up to help preserve it. The site has some examples of the sealing.
Our next planned destination was the town of Arucas, described in our Sunflower book of Gran Canaria as a “pleasant country town”. Can you have a country town? Surely it’s either town or country? Anyway, the same book mentioned that en route there was a ravine worth a visit, the Barranco de Azuaje, so we thought we’d take a look. Apparently it’s the deepest ravine in the north of the island.
The book also mentions a small detour deep into the ravine. About 300 metres along a track you come across something very unexpected; a deserted and ruined spa.
This web page has a photo of it rather less obscured by vegetation, and we found a photo of it in its heyday on a nearby information board.
After this diversion we headed into Arucas with the idea of finding some lunch. We eventually did this, but first we found the disadvantage of modern technology, swiftly followed by some advantages. We wanted to park in the town, but to park in the road required buying a ticket from a machine; but the machine only took coins – no chance to use the phone or a card to pay. We had no coins, so turned to the satnav we brought from the UK to help us find the free car park we knew was somewhere but couldn’t fathom out the one way system in order to find it. The satnav knew the way, and as we drove in a chap motioned us to a space. It turned out that said chap wasn’t an official, he was a freelancer, hoping to get cash from the people he helped find a space. Sadly, we had no cash, so couldn’t pay him. So unfortunate.
Where we parked is just by the church. But – what a church!
It’s the church of San Juan Bautista, and is neo-gothic; started in 1909, completed in 1932. We wanted to look inside, but it was closed, so we lunched at a restaurant, El Mercado, that Jane had unearthed online, in the hope that it would be open when we had dined. It was a good meal, with great service from a waiter who actually advised us that our original choice would be too much food, so we ended up having just the right amount (including vegetables for me – yay!).
When we got back to the church, it was indeed open, but mainly because a service was going on. I managed a quick grab shot to try to give an idea of the interior
and we wandered back to the car via a few other sights in the town.
A nearby hill, imaginatively named Montaña De Arucas, offered a mirador and so we headed up to the top, which gave a very impressive view back over the town.
From this you can see how imposing the church is. The hill once had a volcanic crater, which was filled in to allow the building of a very comprehensive viewpoint facility, with views at all four points of the compass and a restaurant an’ everyfink. And there is an impressive panorama from it.
Sadly, though, the restaurant is closed (maybe due to the pandemic) and has been extensively vandalised, which is a real shame, because it must have once been a great facility.
This was our final port of call, so we headed back to the hotel. Or, rather, we tried to. But the technology that had found us the car park was badly traduced by whoever it was who decided to close one of the roads that led out of the town.
Arucas may be on the surface a “pleasant country town”. But under the thin veneer of pleasantness lurks a hideous, hidden horror. Because the idiots who built the place had no idea about the modern automobile, the one-way system in place in Arucas is extensive, labyrinthine and complicated. The satnav knew quite a lot about it, but not everything – and didn’t understand that the road out of town was closed due to roadworks. We spent a full thirty minutes trying to find a way out of town, only to end up back where we started. Have you ever had one of those nightmares where no matter how hard you try you can’t get to where you want to? This was one such, only made real. The one-way system was so complex that we couldn’t use common sense, the satnav kept leading us back to an impossible route and we got more and more frustrated with the whole thing. Jane cracked it in the end by taking us back up the hill and then darting off unexpectedly on a side road when the satnav wasn’t looking, and we eventually made it out of the never-ending story that was the relationship between our satnav and the Arucas one-way system.
Technology had one more fiendish trick up its sleeve. Today being the last full day of our time here, we thought it would be a good wheeze to check in for our flight tomorrow afternoon. Sadly, BA’s website had other ideas. We have to provide proof that we are Covid-compliant – vaccination certificates and Passenger Locator forms. Jane is superbly organised and so has the necessary documents to hand (and online). Firstly, the BA app on my phone decided not to have any truck with PDF documents; then when we went to a good old-fashioned PC with Windows, the BA website decided it should communicate with us in Spanish. Anyway, the practical upshot is that we have managed to submit the proofs, but are awaiting either a person or an AI entity at BA to give us the thumbs-up so we can complete check-in. Why we should have this problem now when we haven’t had it before when travelling back from Spanish islands is simply one of the eternal mysteries of life. One hopes that we’ll be allowed to leave tomorrow to get back to a cold, rainy England. Stay tuned to find out how it went.