It wasn’t until Tim and I escaped the intensity of Las Palmas and made our way down to Puerto Mogán on the south side of the island that we were able to chill out. It was a great move to make since we’d been caning the cash, the beer and the brain cells in Las Palmas. It was all getting too much and Las Palmas was not the greatest place to hang out for any length of time.
The weird thing about the south was that it had constant sun. The north was covered in cloud for half the day, making sunbathing on the beach a fruitless exercise. Dave did explain the geological reason for this but I was on my third vodka martini at the time so I forget the science behind it all. Precipitation or something, isn’t it?
Although there was lots of sun there were a few problems with the resorts on the south of the island. For starters everyone was German. Like the Liverpudlians in Albufera, ze Germans haf been taking over, ja. They are everywhere. Even the shop assistants are German. The Spanish had the last laugh, however, by naming the biggest resort here Playa Del Ingles, or The English Beach. Haha. Makes me laugh thinking of all those Germans racing to get their towels in the best position on The English Beach. That, too, was a sh!t hole. In fact almost every place I have been to thus far on this island has been rubbish. Out of choice I would never come to Gran Canaria – I can see no reason to come here except for German-baiting. Unless you hire a couple of mountain bikes and head off inland towards the centre of the island.
I’d been itching to get cycling ever since we worked out that to have a relaxing time here we needed to get away from the sh!tty resorts which dominate the coast line. The bikes were not the greatest, being hardtails with rubbish RST forks, but it made the climb up the first few kms bearable. This was proper hairpin-bends-up-a-rather-steep-mountain style, and getting to the first peak Tim and I were thoroughly disappointed when we discovered that we’d actually only covered about one inch on the map, even though we’d just climbed 1000 metres.
The views were amazing, however, with the sea in the distance towards the south (where we’d started) glistening in the midday sun, and the huge volcanic mountains in the north, capped by thick cloud. For about 20 mins we had a discussion as to whether we should head back down the same road we came up, which would have been fun since it was all downhill back to the sea, or drop down the other side with the view of staying the night somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
We compromised by heading down the other side but then turning off and heading back towards the sea, this time slap bang in the middle of the valley down some fire track. Superb! At last, after packing my bike away back in July I was finally back in the saddle and hacking down some gnarly hairpins in amongst some fantastic scenery, away from Tacksville and away from ze Germans. Oh how I miss that crazy mixed-up feeling of exhaustion and elation after a hard day’s cycle ride. I still ache now but I don’t care – after a week on this god-forsaken island I finally feel as though I’ve achieved something!
It was good to get some last-minute exercise in because on Monday we head off on the start of our Atlantic crossing! Tim managed to secure us a place aboard a 473 Beneteau Oceanis, called Ocean Indias. We’re now onboard and have already spent some extremely drunken nights with the skipper, Simon, and first mate Rich. Both jolly decent chaps. I was shocked, however, when we were taken to the anchored boat for the first time. You’ll never guess who’s anchored up next to us? Only Sam and Ramprasad! I had to swim over for a chat but our 10 minute chat was spent with me treading water for the entire conversation – I wasn’t invited up on board of course!
Tim has been on fine form, making a complete dick of himself on a number of occasions. He peaked on Thursday night aboard another boat, Sanuk, when he knocked over the rum punch, slipped down below getting to the heads (we could see him in the toilet via the hatch, preening and dancing whilst checking himself in the mirror), getting back up onto the pontoon and proceeding to pull off some press-ups in front of a large crowd of people celebrating someone’s birthday. He rounded the evening off by falling asleep for 3 hours on the floor of a party boat. For his benefit I won’t continue with any further tales of drunkenness (there are many) but he’s made quite a name for himself.
Following on from tales of drunken behaviour it’s worth commenting on the yachting social scene here in Las Palmas. As the start date for the ARC approaches (23rd November), so the marina is filling up with yachts bearing the ARC flag and, more often than not, British ensigns. Because of this more and more people are out and about, drinking and socialising. Despite what you may think most of the yachties here are just like you and me, and there are plenty of young(er) people to hang out with. In fact there’s quite a big group of us now who hang out together, making Las Palmas so much more bearable.
Having said all this there is a small percentage of tossers we call the Ra-Ra brigade. Normally these people are aboard racing yachts and are generally public school kids whose parents have given them the two grand to spend three weeks racing these big boats. They all speak with plumbs in their mouths and silver spoons up their arses. I’m going to name names: the Formula 1 Racing crew are a bunch of twats and the crew aboard Creightons are just dark. In fact the Belgian skipper aboard Creightons is a combination of two previous skippers I know particularly well. We overheard him shouting at his crew that they were allowed no more drinks and were not allowed to go out in the evening. All the crew now completely blank us, but this may have something to do with Tim’s performance whilst aboard their boat (his drunken abusiveness was entirely justified I hasten to add). It’s a shame these kind of people exist really.
On Saturday evening we went shopping to stock up on food, having spent over an hour working out what we required. We got as far as the first isle, decided it was beer o’clock, and walked out. We’ll do the shopping tomorrow, the day we leave.