With nearly 2 months spent staying on the boat and a month of exploring the island we will share some of our stories from Gran Canaria!
The end of 2016 comedy
Watching over the boat for our captain and having a place to stay, we spent the holidays of 2016 in Las Palmas. Internet was always close and we could ‘easily’ make family calls.
A Calima passed us, a storm with dust from the North African Sahara. We could see the beach but because of 5m waves and strong gusts up to 70km/ph (45mph), it was too dangerous to leave our catamaran. Paddling with our small dinghy we would simply flip over or crash into rocks. Many days passed being stuck on the boat, rocking back and forth, up and down. One day we were able to get on land. As a holiday treat we bought ourselves a chocolate pie… Trying to get from the beach into the dinghy, a wave hit and made the cake smash in the ocean! The perfect comedy scene, right there! It survived, mostly, and cutting away the salty parts we ate it anyway. Patricia felt seasick many days due to the waves. It was a preparation mentally and physically for what is to come when the real sailing begins and we can’t get off the boat. Some days she struggled to get out of bed but she learned tricks to help with the nausea and is determined to overcome it and prepared to deal with it. For example having something to do and preferred while standing up, distracts her nausea. Also ginger seems to be a perfect, natural medicine!
Mostly, holding on hurts more than letting go… This was definitely the case for our dinghy; being pulled by the wind and waves it left us. It took a day and night more before the ocean was calm enough to swim for it. Finding it deflated with the beach bums, we had to carry it in our swimming suits to the closest gas station. After filling it up at the bike tire pump, we walked down the street with the dinghy overhead. Sounds like another comedy scene…
The last joke was when we attempted to make a special Christmas meal, authentic Italian tomato sauce. Which, as some maybe know, takes a long time of preparing. After having the tomatoes peeled, the vegetables cut, the vegetarian meat opened and the cooking process ahead… The gas finished! That night it was mostly a nice meal for the fish. Ah well, life wanted to have fun and all we could do is laugh after all these events.
During our time on the Canary Islands we heard several people speak of Playa Güigüi. In the most remote corner of Gran Canaria this valley has a piece of nature unique to the touristic island. From the closest road it is a 7km (4.5mi) hike up and down a valley. To reach the closest shop it’s a 13km (7.5mi) hike, so we took enough food to last several days. Along the route are many caves so during the hike we decided to have a break and spent two nights in the mountains – literally! Looking for a spot to sleep, Sieger saw only a small opening in the mountain… Crawling inside was a perfect room!
Sleeping in a cave is a special experience; it takes you back to the primitive way of living. Majority of the caves were once homes to the natives of the islands. Sheltered from the wind, sleeping inside the belly of mother earth. This was the nicest cave we have been in so far. The day after we picked up the walk, with a rainbow in view we arrived to the playa. Instantly we were greeted by one of Patricia’s friends, David, who had given us the contact of the boat! A perfect place to be reunited. We camped for three nights and enjoyed the solitude.
Volunteering at Finca Shejala
Having our cooking gas on the boat finished and eager to be more in nature we decided to start searching somewhere to move to. There was plenty of time on the island before leaving so we found it the perfect opportunity for some volunteer work. One specific workaway profile spoke to us. Finca Shejala – a small vegetable farm and healing center in the mountains near Vega de San Mateo. The owners, Marta and Bernardo, are a Canarian couple full of wisdom, love and compassion. The land is open for everybody. Marta teaches Tai Chi, breathing techniques and postures for over 10 years. Together they are healers, they hold temazcal ceremonies with groups up to 12 people. The meditation/yoga room together with the surrounding nature creates the finca a perfect place for healing. One of their key lessons is bringing people back to some kind of pureness. Helping people to remind what their roots are. Show how to release all the unnecessary things they collected during life, at their jobs, in the city, and so on. Let go all conflicts and reconnect with the earth and the pure awareness. Exactly what happened when we did the temazcal ceremony ourselves. A temazcal is a like a sauna, but much smaller and you can only sit. Once closed, it’s completely dark and heated with stones that come out of a large fire. When water with soaked herbs gets poured over the stones, vapor fills the little hut and temperatures rise to 80°C (176°F). The only way to cool down is to lay out on earth and feel the ground. All four of the elements created the whole experience as a complete cleansing. We spent our nights at the finca in an original Mongolian yurt. Not only was it beautiful; it was also the perfect place to come to peace after our acupuncture sessions. With Marta, Bernardo and another workaway, Jill, the five of us shared many meals and laughs together. As for the work itself, our main task was pulling weeds that were overgrowing the garden, making it able for all the plants to breathe.
A special visitor
Finishing our time in the finca, we had a special visit. Sieger’s father decided to book a flight, not only to see his son but probably also to escape from the Belgian -20°C (-4°F) winter. Spending 11 days in Gran Canaria would be perfect for Wilfried to heat up! As a surprise he even took two kilos of Belgian chocolate with him.
The days of his stay, we made use of a rental car to explore the island completely. We set up an extra bed in the yurt and spent three more nights at the finca. Driving around a few days in the mountains we got to see the highest layers and peaks. Wonderful. No mass tourism like the beaches of the island, but definitely a lot of people anyhow.
The views from Roque Nublo and Pico de las Nieves were marvelous! Unfortunately, being high in the clouds, Patricia lost her bag with her driver’s license, cards, jewelry and even the key of the boat! Oh well… Moving on we reached Tejeda, a valley filled with almond trees. And while in Belgium frost and snow covered all plants and flowers, here it was the perfect moment to see all the almond trees bloom.
Next up we reached southern Gran Canaria. We headed towards the dunes of Maspalomas, impressive, a small sahara in the canaries. Too bad it’s lying in between a golf terrain and dozens of hotels with a constant parade of tourists though…
Eager for a hike, Sieger and his father made the treacherous 13km (8.1mi) walk to Güigüi. The longest and hardest trail towards the beach! Completely underestimating the hike, it lasted 8 hours long, with only 45 minutes on the beach. The returning made it a 26km (16.2mi) combined, crossing over two 700 meter (2300ft) peaks.
Not many 62 year old men can still make such a hard hike. Sieger’s dad is definitely a person with not only a strong body but also a mind in perfect shape. During the stay we visited two botanical gardens. A perfect way to grab some seeds we can plant in Costa Rica!
Ending the visit could not have been better, we took Wilfried on board Anuanua! Of course after cutting open the lock… Oh well. Luckily for him there were hardly any waves and the weather was fine. Showing the boat is definitely a very nice way to give his father a view on how we will actually travel across the Atlantic.
Nearly half a year has passed since we left Belgium and the time has come to leave behind these islands and sail to new ones. The path continues to flow always in the direction it should. Synchronicities are to be found in every day and the timing is always perfect. Rainbows continue to light our path and all aligns faultlessly. From our boat named Anuanua meaning rainbow, to the workaway we volunteered at, Shejala, which translates to “the place where the rainbow is born from water”. Lets see which other rainbows await us!
Next stop, Cape Verde!
From our heart to yours,