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MAY 2013








Puerto Rico V Food Bite-defying Bocadillos

Be Beautiful






may 2013 And More Inside What a Difference... Going Green. Where the Wind Blows. Short Story - Pining for Gran Canaria. Reality: A day in the life...


Music Madness. Puerto Rico v Food Flowers in Puerto Rico Be Beautiful with Stacey

TATTOOS & BODY ART contact ongrancanaria - Follow ongrancanaria on FaceBook


acknowledgements cover photos by Serena Correal. Tattoo Photos - Mika Tattoo. Old Puerto Rico by Tony Cross.

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Views of Old Puerto Rico Photos by Tony Cross, Broughton, Lincs.

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What a Difference a Day Makes What a difference a day makes.... Well, in this case, not just a day but a few decades is what's made Puerto Rico how it is today. And different it certainly is. Some say for the better others the opposite. What can't be denied is the gradual metamorphosis the sunshine holiday resort in Gran Canaria has undergone since its establishment in the 1960's.

Back then, when the Beatles were at the height of their career and men celebrated the innovative Mary Quant and her mini-skirts, who would have ever expected Puerto Rico to develop into what it is today. Its origins as an in-cultivatable ravine disappeared cement block by cement block when the first apart-hotel in Puerto Rico set its foundations and the growth hasn't ceased to extend.

ongrancanaria may 2013 When compared with the scenes of yesteryear from old photos like Tony's, the change is striking. The most obvious difference being the extension of the construction through the valley, its spread to up around the Europa Centre and right down the next barranco to the resort of Amadores – another chrysalis which has turned into the proverbial butterfly. “We've been to Greece, we've been to Portugal, but we keep coming back. You just can't beat it.” says Tony Cross from Broughton, who's been a regular visitor to Puerto Rico for the last twenty five years. “Amadores was just rocks and a dirt track. Look at it now.” And Tony's got a good point. What was nothing more than a few huge boulders for a sea-break is now a luxury resort of impeccable white sand and excellent hotels. Another good thing about Puerto Rico is the wide age range it attracts. Scott, 29 and Carly, 21, from Coventry have just enjoyed their first holiday staying up in the Monteparaiso near the Europa shopping centre. They say it won't be the last. “It's nice and there's lots of English speaking people.” said Carly. “It's chilled,” Scott commented. “But we've done a boat cruise and we're considering doing a Jeep safari before we go home. Definitely not boring.”

And it doesn't stop there. Tauro, the next bay along, has also seen drastic changes in the last few years. The pebbly beach where locals made barbecues and took their dogs for a swim, is destined to be a first class marina with a shopping centre all of its own Many of the development plans have already been executed.The Anfi Tauro golf course opened its greens quite some time ago, as did the hotels surrounding it. Yes it's changed. Puerto Rico got bigger and better, but still has that special magic which draws visitors year after year.

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Views of Puerto Rico

ongrancanaria may 2013

ongrancanaria Goes Out & About

in Puerto Rico

ongrancanaria may 2013

PUERTO RICO TODAY Never been to Puerto Rico? Here's some things you might like to know. Puerto Rico clings to the rocky cliff-sides of the south-east coast of Gran Canaria. The sheltered bay, edged with a stretch of golden sand, is an Atlantic paradise where palm trees and trailing Bougainvillea grow between the white-painted apart-hotels. Plants and flowers bloom in a tropical splash of colour and the sun's rays reflect off blue, crystalline waters. With a great choice of accommodation, everything from self-catering to five star spas, Puerto Rico is an ideal family holiday destination. Allinclusive is a tempting option when booking, but give selfcatering a chance as there's no lack of choice when it comes to economical eating out.

Restaurants border the beach and fill the four commercial centres. Steak houses, Tandoori, Chinese, Tex Mex, you name the style of cuisine and guaranteed, Puerto Rico's got a restaurant which serves it. Social life? There's no shortage of bars either. Cocktail bars, British-style pubs, disco bars or a quiet terrace. Whatever type of drinking venue rings your bell, it won't be for last orders they all serve until the small hours of the morning.

Steve & Kimberley in The Pub

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The Pub, in phase four of Puerto Rico Commercial Centre, opened its doors for business in 2007. Landlords, Kimberley and Steve, have been living on the island since nineteen ninety three. They originally came over for a short holiday, did a few gigs in a bar called the Tavern in the Europa Centre and Sheila, the then owner, brought them back from the UK to keep her customers entertained. Just a few years later and thinking it was time to slow things down a bit, they took on The Pub and its been crammed every night since. The family bar has everything - including really good resident staff in Luke, John and Dave. There's all sorts going on - from the screening of all the big football matches, live shows, quizzes and karaoke.

Both Steve and Kim have been in the entertainment game for a long time. Steve started his professional singing career at the age of seventeen. During that time he's worked along side some very famous names - Joe Longthorne, Matt Munroe and Shirley Bassey. Steve often performs his popular Neil Diamond show and once a week shakes off his drapes and gets up on stage with Showaddywaddy. The other members of the fun flashback to the seventies are Kieren, from Molly Malones, the Irish pub round the corner,and James, who is the animator at Bahia Blanca. Kim, who worked for fifteen years as a social worker in the UK, as well as having a fantastic voice is a top class stand up comedian.

ongrancanaria may 2013 While in the Tavern, she started telling jokes to fill in between songs and that developed into a full blown adult comedy show which has the customers falling off their chairs laughing. Though men be warned, if you give her too much lip, she'll have you up on stage and may well leave you in your birthday suit. Don't say you haven't be warned. Life's not always a bundle of fun and Kim has seen more than her fair share of the serious side of it over the last couple of years. Having been diagnosed with grade two tumours, she's undergone several operations, but is still smiling. “Someone up there must have loved me.” says Kim. She's now made a full recovery, but her close call with fate hasn't been forgotten. Last year she dedicated part of her time to raising funds for the local breast cancer association, ACCM, by hosting a Walk for Life and performing The Burlesque Show in many of the other pubs in Puerto Rico. In all a total of over ten thousand Euros was raised to help the cause.

There are more fund-raising plans in progress for this year too. Though the date has not yet been confirmed, there will be another Walk For Life about mid-June. The sponsored event starts from close by The Pub, heads round to Amadores Beach, then doubles back along the sea front pathway and through Puerto Rico. Kim will be doing the rounds with James in a new comedy show too, so that's something else to look out for. If you're on holiday during those dates, pop in and give the participants some support. Even though business isn't as easy as it used to be, the recent increases in the price of alcohol on the island means costs have gone up. But Steve, when asked, what was the worst thing about running a pub in Gran Canaria, laughed and said, “Getting up in the morning.” Not a surprising comment considering they're open until the early hours every day. Would he ever go back to Britain? Steve shook his head. “Go back to England? I wouldn't even go back in a box.” And you can't argue with that.


PHOTO OF THE MONTH Sunset over Amadores Beach by Alldrey Barnett


looks at



ongrancanaria may 2013 My body is my journal and my tattoos are my story. - Johnny Depp

The human race have been decorating their skin more or less since time began. Cavemen, as well as daubing stick animals on the rocks, covered their bodies with a mixture of clay and ash to ward of evil. Time progressed, the use of body art continued and the evolving human race developed more sophisticated methods of applying paint to skin than those used by our Neanderthal ancestors. There's plenty of evidence that tattooing is, and always has been, a worldwide trait. Its use throughout the various civilizations is a fact verified by the examples found on mummies excavated in archaeological remains and which can be dated back over five thousand years. (Now that's permanent ink.) On the African continent, certain designs designate a person's tribal origins and are used to enhance a woman's natural beauty. Down under in Australia, the native Aborigines along with the New Zealand Maori, paint their faces and bodies with complex designs meant to scare the living daylights out of their enemies and it works.

Nothing much has changed over the centuries. Prisoners in jails all over the world make a coded, but public statement with their tattoos. Street gangs use tattoos to show their affinity to a particular band. Dwayne Johnson style tribal.

Tattoo by MIKA The present-day surge of interest in tattooing is still on the increase. With new methods of application, other than the old fashioned sharp pin and a pot of ink, designs have become more personalized and more extravagant as the years go by. The naval and military tradition of indigo blue lines, etched on sun-burnt forearms while in foreign ports, has now transformed into a full palette of colours from which tattoo artists create amazing works of art on any part of the body.

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Fashion trends created by the famous are a big influence in the type of tattoo people choose to decorate their body with. For men, David Beckham's guardian angel is a popular choice along with that of the Real Madrid footballer, Guti's spray of elbow stars. While the American born star of film and professional wrestling, Dwayne Johnson, is probably the best known bodycanvas for tribal tattoos. Top music and film stars, such as Rhiana, also love to show off their body art. The trail of stars, which fall from the nape of her neck down onto her shoulder, plus the goddess tattooed under her breasts, have influenced the choice of many young females. And then there's Angelina Jolie with her barcoded neck. If Brad Pitt finds it attractive - who's to argue with the girls who want to copy her.

Age is irrelevant these days when it comes to getting a body decoration. Though one thing which differs with the generations is the decision about just what to get done. The more youthful are very decided about the design they want. The more mature first-timer is likely to get some good advice from the tattoo artist himself before going ahead and getting the needle. The tattoo salon Mika opened in Puerto Rico in the year 2000. Giorgio, the owner and often known as Alex, started tattooing at the age of twelve, testing his needle on himself and any willing friend. “Once I had to run after them to get them to let me tattoo them, now they run after me.� he says. Twenty five years down the line, Giorgio is a very sought after artist with an impeccable reputation for style and hygiene.

ongrancanaria may 2013 “wear your heart on your skin in this life.” Sylvia Path Giorgio's creative work has decorated generations of families which arrive at his studio door recommended from father to son or daughter and so on down the line. The art of tattooing has changed over the years with the advancement of technology. Marcos, who creates the majority of Mika's personalized designs explained. “It's a major benefit, these days being able to work with computer programs such as Photoshop as we can adapt different designs to a person's specific requirements. Another advantage is, after scanning in their photograph, we can overlay the chosen design and they can actually see what the finished product is going to look like before we've even started.” As with all things, tattoos are a question of personal taste. Some discrimination does exist on the subject and especially in the work market. A prospective employer is less likely to take you on if your forearms and neck are scribed with a multitude of designs. The most discriminatory markets are the hospitable trades and others which involve direct client or public contact - something to consider before getting a tattoo somewhere on your body which is difficult to cover.


All photographs courtesy of MIKA TATTOOS.


ongrancanaria may 2013 Your body is a temple, but just how long can you spend in one place without redecorating. ANON. And as always, when it comes to men and feminine issue, there are very varied and contradictory opinions on the seductiveness of a painted female body. Some like it others don't. But as Marcos commented. “They'll say they don't like it, but they can't peel their eyes of my calender of Tattooed Beauties behind the desk.�

Once done, you'll need to keep out of the sun and swimming pool for at least ten days while your skin heals. The best thing to do is plan to have the work done just before you go home. Though during your stay, the area where the tattoo will be needs extra care. Use a very high factor sunprotection on the zone and make sure it doesn't get burnt. Sun burnt skin doesn't tattoo well.

Out on the street, Paul from Gloucester told ongrancanaria, he didn't mind as long as they were small ones. Something like stars or roses. Where as Paul W from Sutton on Sea thinks they're really sexy, especially if on the ribcage or across the thigh. Good thing as his wife Marie has a very elegant, Cheryl Cole style garter on her leg and is planning to have a trailing vine creeping across her shoulders

Slow down on the intake of alcohol for a couple of days before. When you have alcohol in your system, it affects the blood and when tattooed, you'll bleed more and the quality of the results won't be as good as you'd expect. Something else to consider. If you've changed your mind after being under the needle - there's always laser removal.

If you're considering getting a tattoo while on holiday in Gran Canaria - there are a few things which you should keep in mind.. Find Mika Tattoos on Facebook and on

Xtreemes Bar Photo - Courtesy of Russell.

MUSIC MADNESS No, not madness as in the ever popular pop group, but rather the type of music which drives you to distraction on holiday.

ongrancanaria went out and about late at night to discover just what was on the turntables in Puerto Rico's liveliest pubs.

What's the song which made you jump out of your chair and bop till you dropped?

Puerto Rico's DJ’s have all spun a few discs in their times and it wasn't difficult for them to decide which was the most memorable one for them when ongrancanaria asked them to name that tune.

You know, that favourite tune which brings back memories of wild nights, holiday mayhem and doing things on the dance floor you probably regretted in the morning.

Or was it?

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DJ Lorraine from The Nags Head.


DJ Paul Allen from Copacabana's

DJ Russell from Xtreemes Bar in the Europa Shopping Centre

ongrananaria may 2013 “My all time holiday favourite would have to be Sex on the Beach by TSpoon.” said Paul Allen, the resident DJ in Copacabana's in phase four of Puerto Rico Shopping Centre. “No, wait a minute, the only way is up by Yaz and the Plastic Population was a good one as well. Oh, what about... DJ Otzi and Hey Baby.” While he was making his mind up, ongrancanaria asked Dave the Rave from The Pub right next door. Dave's a serious Soul and House man, who said he'd be hard pushed to choose between McFadden and Whiteheads, Ain't No Stopping Us Now and The Fatback Band's, I Found Love. Taz - read all about a day in his life on page 33 - reckons, I Said A Hey by Las Ketchup will never go out of fashion. Lorraine Stanley, from The Nag's Head which is also in phase four, reckons the classic songs are the best.

Lorraine opted for Baggy Trousers by Madness, then 500 miles by The Proclaimers and said a good night wouldn't be complete without a blast from the past in the form of Come On Eileen by Dexy's Midnight Runners. Russell, owner and DJ of Xtreemes, the liveliest bar in The Europa Shopping Centre says - “Lately the best song is Gangam Style. But I hate it lol. The best for me is the Dirty Dancing Mega Mix with all the favs from the film mixed together.” The list could go on and on and yes, Puerto Rico's DJ's taste in music various immensely. But one thing is guaranteed whatever makes them rock the dance floor - they'll all make sure you'll have some brilliant holiday nights out. What's the tune which brings back happy memories of Puerto Rico for you? Join us on the facebook page and let us know. In the next edition we'll print the name of Puerto Rico's most popular holiday hit ever.

A splash of colour... on the rocks.

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ongrancanaria Or to give it the correct Latin title.... BOUGAINVILLEA SPECTABILIS a common sight in the south of Gran Canaria. Bougainvillea is often referred to as the “paper flower� due to the dry texture of its blooms, which even when cut and used in floral decorations retain their vibrant colours.

The Bougainvillea Its extravagant hues vary from the lightest pink to the darkest mauve, illuminating and decorating the driest of scenarios. The plant is a native of Brazil and is named after the French navigator and explorer, Luis Antoine de Bouganville who was the first Frenchman to sail around the world. He introduced the plant to the Canary Islands during one of his voyages of discovery and it has been a popular addition to the local flora ever since.

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ongrancanaria Spring is in the air in Gran Canaria. In Puerto Rico and all over the island, the Opuntia or Prickly Pear cacti are in full bloom. The fruit from this spiny cactus has been a staple part of the Canarian diet for centuries and the masses of vibrant yellow flowers promise a good harvest of Tunos later in the year. If you're brave enough to tackle them, they need to be peeled to remove the fine, hair-thin spikes which bristle in clumps on the outer skin. One, more or less safe, way to consume them is to wrap one in a serviette, slice the top off and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon - the same as you would with a Kiwi.

Prickly Pear The taste and texture is reminiscent of a pomegranate and the juice is acid rather than sweet, but surprisingly thirst-quenching. At one time in Canarian history the broad, flat leaves were used to host the insects from which the locals produced the food dye Cochineal, but it's an art which has almost completely disappeared and now it's just the fruit of the plant which is used locally to produce preserves and on occasion liqueurs.

ongrancanaria v FOOD After watching a few episodes of Man v Food on Energy Channel TV, a question came to mind. What would Gran Canaria or more to the point, Puerto Rico, have to offer to that type of gastronomic challenge? Without a doubt the reply would have to be Bocadillos. What's one of those?

A simple combination of practically everything in the kitchen crammed into a crusty bread roll. Get your gnashers round that. It's not an easy task. Just like those over-sized American burgers, when you take the first bite the fillings are liable to start slipping out.

ongrancanaria may 2013 The standard Bocadillo on a lot of cafeteria menus is the Pepito - a type of steak sandwich with all the trimmings.

Fond memories of sipping Strawberry Daiquiris under the sun?

Conjure the image of fresh crusty bread packed with slices of minute steak cooked on the grill, add some chopped lettuce and slices of tomato, all slathered with lashings of the inadmissible ali-olĂ­ (garlic mayonnaise). Mouth watering yet? But even the Pepito has its own regional additions. Try one in Las Palmas or up in one of the mountain villages and it could well be packed with a few extra slices of ham and cheese to give it an even more substantial effect. It doesn't end there. In other popular variations, grilled chicken breast, breaded fish fillet or even battered squid rings replace the steak. Where in Puerto Rico can you get a Bocadillo at a decent price? In Los Danielles at the far end of the shopping centre. They really know how to make them.

Image courtesy of Graeme Weatheston/

Make one at home... Grab a blender and cram it with ice cubes. Pour in a liberal shot of white rum. Ron Arecus Carta Blanca does the job pretty well. Add a splash of triple sec and a good handful of ripe strawberries plus a good dash of lemon juice and then give it all a good whizz. Pour the resulting slush into any handy recipient. Stick a strawberry on the side of the glass or bucketdepending which you used- then add a straw and sip with caution.

Be Beautiful


Welcome to my new Be Beautiful page! Here every month you will be able to find all the latest Hair & Beauty trends, tips & advice.

Stacey Arbelaez


by Stacey Arbelaez

So what's new for nails this season? CND launch their new sweet dreams collection. The colour range expands to forty seven fantastic colours with the five new power pastel shades

Grapefruit Sparkler, Cake Pop, Limeade, Azure Wish & Lilac Longing

Since launching in 2010, CND Shellac has transformed salon service manicures and pedicures, delivering 14-day flawless wear and mirror shine with zero dry-time - no chipping and no nail damage. Shellac manicures & pedicure start at â‚Ź20 for one colour and range up to â‚Ź30 for art. The choices of designs are unlimited and finishes include a wide variety of foils, glitter and pigment which can be customized to suit special events, outfits and accessories. The application takes between 30-60mins and begins with cuticle removal, nail shaping and nail plate cleansing. Shellac base coat then colour choice is applied and each layer is cured in the UV lamp. After the gloss top coat has been applied and the uncured residue removed, hands and nails are treated to a combination of SolarOil and Scentsations Hand & Body Lotion. Leaving you with a 14-day, high gloss shine, chipresistant manicure and hands that look and feel great!

What's Hot? The New Nude – Possibly the strongest nail trend I have ever seen. Choose a shade lighter than your skintone to elongate fingers.


by Stacey Arbelaez

This seasons hair trends? Super Straight – Time to dig out those straightners again. After several seasons of being ‘out’ it seems it's time to get those locks poker straight & extra glossy. Its all over the catwalks!!

Low slung buns – In a rush? This new trend you will love. Whether you wear it with a centre parting, or just a low loose knot. Use high shine hairspray for the latest wet look and you won’t go wrong this summer.

What's Hot? Hair Accessories – Classic Printed Head scarfs, Headbands, oversized pretty bows.


by Stacey Arbelaez

Product of the Month Clinique chubby stick intense – Moisturising lip colour balm. Heftiest Hibiscus my personal favorite. Corral is a must to show off a summer glow!

Stacey's TOP TIP FOR SUMMER Whether worn on your nails, as a hair accessory or used as part of your beachwear Strawberry Red, Lemon Yellow, Mint and Emerald Green have to be worn this summer… See you next month for more new trends!! Staying in Gran Canaria? Visit our Beauty Salon in Puerto Plata Hotel, Puerto Rico or call 0034 682 22 99 20 for appointments!

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ongrancanaria REALITY What's it really like living in Gran Canaria? Fun in the sun, out every night, a permanent holiday every day? Find out in the first of ongrancanaria's reality articles. This month, Taz, who hales from Newcastle and has been on the island for twenty two years, lets us into the secrets of one of his typical days.

06.30am : The alarm just went off. Time to get up. Another day in paradise. Breakfast first and then a walk around the the block with the dog. 07.30am : Gym time. A bit of training and then into the shower before I take the kids to school 09.00am : David Lewis, or TJ as we call him, is six and Summer who is four have been dropped off and I'm going to work.

ongrancanaria may 2013 09.30am : I've got my fingers in a lot of pies - legal ones - booze cruises bar crawls and tickets for all the excursions, plus a few other things besides. 10.30am : The kiosk, in Puerto Rico, is quiet. Same shit, different day. Its getting hotter. I'm going for a coffee and after that, I'll try a different location to see if there's any people about - one's that speak English. The past six months Puerto Rico has been so full of older Scandinavians, I've re-named the place Jurassic Park. It's not good for business. 12.00am : It's midday and God, it's hot. Thirty Celsius or more and I'm sweating my tits off. Can't believe it's still quiet. Hope the summer season gets better than this. 14.00pm : Got to go and collect the kids from school. Time flies when you're having fun – not – lol. Then I'm off to the supermarket for her indoors – another massive shopping list. 15.30pm : I'm finally home, but the dog, Lady, is waiting for her walk. I'm taking her down the barranco with TJ and his football. He's my little Lionel Messi.

16.30pm : Back from walkies and its siesta time. DO NOT DISTURB. 17.15pm : Now it's tea-time and it's my favourite. Sausage casserole. Yum. 18.00pm : Had a shower and I'm back at work. All work and no play? That's Gran Canaria when you're on a commission-based job. I'm back in the kiosk and bored shirtless, just waiting for ten o'clock so I can go home and be with my lovely and the kids. Time off means no money, no honey. 21.00pm : The clocks stopped ticking. I've fallen asleep on the job. 22.00pm : I'm going home. Would Taz go back to Britain? “I went back a few years on a two week return ticket and lasted eight days. No I wouldn't.” Follow Taz on FaceBook - at Sunshine Excursions

I'm Dreaming of Being


are you?

ongrancanaria Going Green

Aloe Vera growing alongside the greens at Salobre Golf with the Sheraton Hotel in the background.

ongrancanaria may 2013 We all love the sun, but there's a limit. Unfortunately, the same as when it comes to drinking on holiday, a lot of us get carried away and don't know when to stop. It's seriously tempting to lay on a sun-bed and soak up the rays for as long as they're shining, especially if you've just flown in from somewhere where the temperatures are bordering on freezing and there's been nothing but sleet, snow and rain. Caution is always better than burnt bits, but if you've thrown it too the wind and have developed far more than the natural glow you were hoping to obtain, what's the best remedy for sun-burn?

A lot of Canarian people swear by these natural skincalmers - natural yoghurt and tomatoes. Both are economical to buy and believe it or not have a soothing effect on sun-burnt skin. Slices of tomato, straight from the fridge, nice and cold, gently rubbed over your red bits will ease the sting. The contents of a pot of yoghurt smeared over the affected areas will also take the edge off the pain.

Image courtesy of MARKUSO /

Image courtesy of SUATEMAN /

But by far the best and most effective remedy for an overdose of UV rays is AloeVera. The succulent plant grows wild and is also cultivated in some places in the Canaries. The gel-like substance extracted from its spiky leaves is renowned for having excellent skin-soothing and moisturizing properties. Commercially available and very reasonably priced, it really is one of the best things for taking the sting out of a day on the beach.

ongrancanaria In Kite Surf Paradise Where the wind blows... If you're staying in the south of Gran Canaria you'll find the sun's scorch is often moderated by a light sea-breeze blowing in over the blue expanse of the Atlantic. Take a thirty minute drive northwards along the motorway, leaving the palm tree paradise behind and everything changes.

The spread of high-rise resorts along the coast peters out to a flat and arid landscape and across the channel, separating Gran Canaria from Fuerteventura, what is a gentle breeze down in the south develops into a gale force wind.

ongrancanaria may 2013 The gusts buffet body and soul and turn any hairdo into dreadlocks in a little less then thirty seconds. Airplanes overhead appear to have come to a complete standstill on the final run in to the airport and the container ships, heading for the port, seem to have dropped anchor as they battle in against the prevailing winds. Christopher Columbus upped anchor and set sail after only a very short visit to the island. Maybe there just wasn't enough for him to discover along this part of the shore, but then again, he wasn't a kite surfer and so may well have overlooked the stretch of sand on the outskirts of Las Palmas in favour of the Americas. .

Hidden behind the gigantic commercial centre of Las Terrazas is a small beach which is an ideal spot for practicing kite surfing. Its a place where waves roll in and crash against a stretch of volcanic sand in foaming surf and Las Palmas is the backdrop curving around the bay in the distance. Kite surfing is not a sport for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced. It's a lot less strenuous on the knee joints when observing from the shore and watching the surfers wetsuit up was a lot more entertaining than any multi-cine or designer store.

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When the harness was strapped on and the chute started to unfurl, there was a sharp crack as the silk filled with air. The surfer wrestled with the lines as he crossed the sand, board tucked under his left arm, trying to maintain his feet on the ground. Then, once he'd got knee deep in the water, with a jump, he was on the board and in a flash, hurtling out to sea. While standing on the shoreline, waiting for the surfer to scud past, it was almost impossible to get him in focus with a camera. He sped by at around fifty kilometres per hour. The only good shot was made by the stinging salt spray when it flew up and splatted against the lens. It sometimes an awful lot easier to just give up and get some from the professionals.

Photo courtesy of Linnam Salsly/

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles/


Pining for Gran Canaria A Short Story by LizX It was back in 2007 when the fires burned. News bulletins, covering the disaster on the local television channels, interrupted the kids cartoons with alarming frequency. They broadcast disturbing images of the forest areas - devastated and still smouldering. Those trees, scorched and blackened by the kiss of eight metre high flames, were to become the carbonized symbols of Gran Canaria's greatest tragedy. Back then, huge clouds of black smoke hovered over the mountains behind Puerto Rico and drifted down to smog the resort, turning the air acrid. Along with the smoke came the worrying possibilities of being evacuated. That on top of the stress of teething pains and chicken pox, plus the extra job of cleaning motes of fallen soot from the terrace to stop the kids getting covered in it, was a lot for any young mum to worry about. Two and a half years have passed since the fires, it's coming up to Christmas and we need to buy a tree. It's a half hour drive to the local garden centre, but the traffic on the motorway is nose to tail with festive shoppers and it'll probably take longer. Like ants heading for the nest they're trailing in single file to go and spend time, if not money, under the twinkle of lights and theatre-sized decorations in the main commercial centres. Our car's somewhere stuck in that file of ants. The rear-view mirror reflects five year old Jamie strapped in his safety seat and drawing sticky-fudge chocolate pictures on the car window. Emma, engrossed in her Nintendo, is sitting beside him. Her latest mascot yaps Japanese-style. Its a poor substitute for the pet she wanted, but with no garden, the real thing is out of the question. Still, she seems happy enough and has settled for the digital kind without too much parental blackmailing. continued

ongrancanaria may 2013 “What's that, mum?” Jamie asks as we pull into the garden centre's empty car-park almost an hour later. “Its a cow, stupid.” Emma pipes in. He's never seen a real one and is fascinated by the life-size black and white bovine statues of mother and calf. Freed from his seat harness, he clambers out of the open car door and darts over to them shouting, “Red trees, red trees.” as he runs. His bright green Wellington boots scuffle the loose gravel. His sister tuts in her adult, nine year old way at his excited description of the Poinsettia bushes displayed around the plaster beast's feet. “Can I sit on it, mum?” he shouts. “I don't think so. Come on, lets go and look for the tree.” Inside the nursery area the smell of stagnant, cut-flower water and hot plastic, transport Jamie into an imaginary, jungle world. He skips between the neat rows of pot plants growling like a tiger. We wander around for a while until Emma spots it. A spindly thing, its roots have grown long and peep out of the black plastic container, but after a close examination, my budding botanist decides its the right type. She wants the three needled Canarian variety and the same as the one she planted on a recent school trip up into the mountains. She picks it up, carries it to the cash desk and pays the small price with the money her grandparents sent her for birthday. Walking back across the car-park, the pine's clutched to her chest. She struggles with the weight, but as independent as ever, won't except any help. Once its loaded on the seat between her and Jamie, we hit the road again and take the winding route which leads to the centre of the island. It twists and turns and like trailing ivy clings to the steep cliff-sides. The kids peer down onto the waving crowns of the palm trees growing at the bottom of the ravine. My eyes don't leave the road. “Monkey, monkey.” squeals Jamie. “No chance, but keep looking and you might see a camel.” Anything to keep him occupied for a bit and save the car's interior. We climb up, higher and higher until the coastline is left far behind. The spread of Maspalomas beach becomes a shimmer of undulating gold set against glinting Atlantic blue on the horizon. We pass the rural hotel El Molino and the sight of the long-necked ostriches in their pens leaves Jamie, for once, speechless.

ongrancanaria may 2013 On the peaks of the hills in the distance, like bristled feathers, tall pines form a staggered outline. We drive on and up until we reach San Bartolome de Tirajana and just outside of the village, I park the car in a rocky lay-by next to a picnic area. From this high up the view is an artist's canvas where blobs of creamy white blossom stand out in stark contrast to the bare branches of the almond trees. Down in the valley, half hidden amongst dark green leaves, are smudges of bright ochre where the oranges nestle. The scent of pine, hanging in the air, is like the dream of a damp Spring long past and lingers to tantalize, fresh and green. Jamie carries his beach spade and not quite understanding what we are doing, asks if we're going to build sandcastles. Easy to please, he settles for digging holes. Soon bored, he starts to fill his bucket with fallen pine cones the same way he collects shells on the beach, scurrying around, a little human squirrel picking up fallen treasures. Emma has chosen the spot and we scrape away at the sparse soil with trowels until the hole is deep enough to cover the roots of the sapling. With the container removed, we place our tree in its new home, push the dry earth back around it and then cover it with pine needles. “Take a picture, mum.” she instructs me. “So we can send it to El Hormiguero.” Emma's been an avid watcher of the television program and their plant a tree project. The job is done and it's time to go. A billowing fog of grey mist swirls in and surrounds us. Jamie dances in the clouds. He whirls round and round until he's dizzy and falls down. Clumps of brown needles stick like hairy caterpillars in his hair and on his jacket. He giggles as he tries to pick them off. On the way back to the car, Emma picks up a branch from the ground. She waves it above her head and calls out, “Mummy, look what I've found.” On the curved branch, between the still green fronds, are clusters of cones not much bigger than acorns. “Can we take it home and paint it?” Emma's always full of bright ideas. She trails it along behind her, satisfied with her find and content we'll have a tree in the house, even if its not the traditional kind. Ours we leave there, on the mountainside, decked with the simple adornment of a silver bell and a red ribbon. Our Christmas tree and our present to Gran Canaria.

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Magazine about Gran Canaria, the places and people who live there.


Magazine about Gran Canaria, the places and people who live there.