Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
As I made my way from Gran Canaria Airport to Las Palmas with my good friend Dick it did not feel like coming home. It felt more like I had not been away. As we made our way into the city I remembered the first time I visited Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
Las Palmas is not like Playa del Ingles or Puerto Rico just 50km away in the south. You will find it difficult to get your Irish or English breakfast here. If you are looking for a decent pint of Guinness in Las Palmas forget it. If you are freaked out you will miss a week of the X-factor and you are looking for a pub that will show it take a left at the airport and go south.
In a real Spanish city which Las Palmas is bar televisions show two things. Football and Politics. Both involve a lot of shouting and every now and again someone will get arrested for tax evasion. Las Palmas is Spain but with some differences.
Las Palmas more Madrid or Havana?
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is a very Spanish but the city’s atmosphere and people also have a unique vibe. The city has a strong connection with South America. The Canary Islands were an important stopover point during the Spanish conquest of South America. Christopher Columbas had a house in Las Palmas.
Canarian people travelled on the many ships that stopped on the Islands and went to South American to gain their fortunes. Some returned and brought back some local traditions and sayings from South America. For example buses on the Canary Islands are called Guaguas. The only other place buses are called this is in Cuba.
As well as Spanish travelling to South America eventually South Americas started travelling to Spain in search of a better life. Some got off ships in Las Palmas and made it their home. This gives Las Palmas a unique atmosphere. Canarion. Spanish. South American. Throw in Morrcanan and West African and you might understand why Las Palmas was a great place to watch the recent football world cup.
So what is happening in Las Palmas?
Every year 100s of boats set sail from around the world for Las Palmas for an event known as the Arc. The fleet gathers in Las Palmas marina for most of the month of November. During the month they socialize and attend the many events that are a part of Arc event. At the end of the month, the main fleet sets sail for the Caribbean. It attracts all sorts of sailors. For the less experienced it gives an opportunity to cross the Atlantic as part of a large group.
The arrival of the Arc is not welcomed by all boat owners. As the event becomes more popular the long stay boats are required to vacate their prime slots and anchor away from the Marina. The Arc fleet are higher paying visitors. This means the long stay boats have to go and come ashore using dingeys. For some of these long-stay people, November begins a month of cat and mouse with the Marina authorities.
As space in the marina becomes a premium some long stay people go underground. If they cannot be seen they cannot be asked to move. During the Arc month in November, I get to see some long stay boat owners in parts of Las Palmas I never see them in. I sometimes wonder if it was not for the Arc some of these people would never leave the Marina.
Can I wear a sailors cap?
I have to admit I find most sailors a curious lot. I admire people who will get into a small boat alone and sail across the world’s oceans. I also find that most of them, once they get off their boats, have the worse sense of direction I have ever seen. There seems to be a great social scene and comradery between sailors. All year boats pull into the Marina and some great characters arrive and spend time in Las Palmas.
There are also boats that I think have never have left the Marina. I suspect these are the people wearing the captain caps. I think it is possible I have greater sailing experience due to my trips by ferry across to the other Canary Islands. I might just buy myself a hat.
Las Palmas Irish connection
Sir Rodger Casement was an Irish patriot who was hanged by the British for his part in smuggling arms from a German submarine. The arms were landed on Banna strand in Co Kerry in southwest Ireland three days before the 1916 Easter rising. Unfortunately for Casement, he was captured by the British soon after the landing.
Rodger Casement had actually worked for the British foreign office until 1913. During his time in the foreign office, he played a major role in exposing the appalling conditions and slavery in the Belgian Congo. Casements report on the mistreatment of the local population helped force, King Leopold of Belgium, to set up a commission of inquiry which confirmed Casements report.
During his time as British Consul in Brazil, he travelled to the Putumayo district of Peru. Here he witnessed rubber slavery of the local Indians by the Peruvian Amazon company who were registered in Britain. The Indians were forced to do unpaid labour and at the same time close to starvation. Roger Casement’s report is still described as a piece of outstanding journalism. The report and international pressure forced the Peruvian government to improve the conditions of the local Indians.
So what is the Las Palmas connection?
Well, Sir Roger had his own secret. He was a Gay man at a time when being gay was not accepted by society. During his trial, the so-called black diaries were published in the British press. These were a diary of Casement’s sexual exploits around the world. Many people believed that the diaries were fake and an effort by the British to destroy Casement’s reputation. Today most experts are of the opinion that the diaries are genuine and here is where Las Palmas makes it into Rodgers Casement’s black diaries.
In Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, he met a sailor named Miguel. Casement writes in his diary how he sheltered in the semidarkness. He reached out his hand and placed it on Miguel’s leg, and Miguel smiled. Nodding, and emboldened, Roger ran his hand a little closer to his fly and felt Miguel’s sex and a wave of desire ran through him from head to toe.
So it was in the park adjacent to where the Santa Catalina hotel stands today that gave Las Palmas a small part in the very interesting life of Sir Rodger Casement. It also proves that gay people were having sex prior to the internet and dating apps.
So what is the state of play
I really enjoyed my time in Eastern Europe. It was a great and positive experience. At no time did I feel I had made a mistake in packing everything I owned in one bag and going there. There is so much of interest to see in the Balkans.
Why did I leave? Winter is coming and I fecking don’t like winter. Never have never will. An opportunity arose to stay in an apartment in Las Palmas so I have decided to stay here for a few months. Once the back of winter is broken who knows where is next.
I do know as of today I do not want to return to Cork Ireland. Don’t get me wrong. Cork is a really nice place to live but I am not ready to return yet. Part of me fears that if I return I won’t get away again. The adventure will be over. I know that sounds illogical but that is how I feel. I can’t really explain it.
The main priority as of now is to try to get some paid work.
So I have been doing some videos on my travels. So far I have tried to be zippy. Hippy and jump up and down skippy. I have come to the conclusion I am not a game show host and I am who I am. I am changing tack and doing videos my way rather then what people say on the internet how I should be doing it.
Pat weekly view from his Balcony in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
I discuss what has been going on during the week. I give my weekly travel tip. All this without sounding like a game show host. Shouting. Mad music and laser beams.
Join me on my journey.
Sign up for email alerts and know when a new post goes live.