Earth and Fire

The past few days in Las Palmas have flown by. It’s very very sad because I’ve met some really cool people and done/seen some amazing things. But… Life goes on! 

A CouchSurfer and Gran Canaria native named Moises posted a message on the events page in Gran Canaria about going hiking. There were two others that were supposed to be going and I asked if I could join. Eventually, the other two canceled (apparently that happens a lot to Moises) so it was just me and him on this hike. I woke up early in the morning to take a bus from Las Palmas to Telde, and from there Moises picked me up, taking us through Ingenio and some other small town to get to our starting point, Guayadeque.

“Barranco” as far as I can tell is like the English word gorge, as in the area between two mountains or cliffs, but I’m not sure. It could be something like fissure… Anyway, I thought the hike was going to take a couple hours. I also though being up really high, we would be potentially walking through clouds. Neither of those things were true. Moises explained to me that there’s a phenomenon here the locals call “the sea of clouds.” The clouds that form over the ocean rarely make it onto the island and very rarely into the center where we were. Something about the air currents and the temperature of the air keeps the big clouds from getting up high enough to get over the mountains, so when you’re climbing, you can look around at the “sea of clouds” just hanging out over the water. It’s pretty neat.
The hike was also nine hours long and 20km. I hadn’t brought any sunscreen. BRING IT ON. 

A bit of niceness before my wrestling match with earth and sunfire. 

The hike was pretty difficult. Lots of up and down. I remember Moises saying, “Y ahora subimos. Y ahora bajamos.” And now we go up. And now we go down. Repeat repeat repeat. Regardless, the hike was incredible. 

Early on in the hike we ran into a woman and her son who were farmers. The woman said she had just turned seventy but has spent her whole life living in that area. Evidently, a long time ago, the island natives lived in caves that were built into the mountains. As most of the rock is volcanic, it’s easy to strip away bits of rock. If order to keep water and heat from seeping in through the porous rock, those who inhabit the cave houses now paint the top of their homes in white paint. 

The farmer woman and her son were sitting outside a cave that was used to house cows. They were being milked when we passed by (and some of the milk was going to the several cats that were angrily meowing for food). The woman’ son showed me his traditional Canarian knife; it was entirely hand made, and made of goat horn with different metals and dyes to give it color and a stringer structure. 

HOW COOL IS THIS

Moises and I talked a lot about the nuances of Canarian Spanish. The Spanish speakers her end to drop the entire last syllable of words – peligroso becomes peligrós. Often they don’t pronounce s at the end of syllables (but maybe with aspiration instead) so Las Canarias turns into Lah Canariah and gracias sounds more like graciá. They also don’t use the ‘th’ sound here like in Andalucía, and ‘ll’ is pronounced almost like ‘sh,’ very much like Argentinian Spanish. Locals describe their language as closer to Venezuelan and Argentinian English than anything else. 
Also, the bus system here is called the Guagua (pronounced wawa) and comes from the English word wagon, like the wagons people used to get around in. How weird is that? Cool for a linguist though! All I taught Moises was how to say “I just can’t” (when you see something too ridiculous to describe) or alternatively, “What the fuck.” 
Halfway through the hike we made it to a famous restaurant located in a cave located in the barranco. We stopped just for a coke before continuing. 
Moises pointed out a river that runs underground on the island, which pops up above ground where we were. 
From 9am to 6pm we hiked before finally heading back to Las Palmas. I received another message from other CouchSurfers about playing pool later, so Moises dropped me off and I took a shower to get ready. It was at that point that I realized just how red I had become.
Moises had provided me with a hat so the back of my neck wouldn’t burn, but that didn’t stop the rest of my body from absorbing cancer accelerant. I was I an immense amount of pain so the shower was ice cold and very quick. I threw on some sweat pants and a loose shirt and went to meet the new CouchSurfers.
I didn’t bring my camera that night so I don’t have any pictures of us playing pool, but not a big deal. There was a guy from Las Canarias whose name I can’t remember (Eric?), another one who’d lived in Mexico for several years named Josué, a Hungarian guy named Ádám, and a Swiss guy named Jonathan. Jonathan and Ádám both go to the same school in Denmark and were on holiday in the islands. They had just come from the south part of Gran Canaria and planned on renting a car the next day to go see more parts of the islands/the mountains, and Josué was going to come along too. I agreed to join the next day. After a couple really awful games of pool, I headed back to my room and conked out like it was nobody’s business.

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