Gran Canaria – Home Leaving to Island Living

As Europe was transforming itself once again under the autumn sky, we packed our backpacks, solved all the logistics we needed to solve – before leaving the country for 6 months, and off we go.

Though, we didn’t jump straight to a flight over the Atlantic. We still felt we needed to see how we are adapting to life on the road. To expose ourselves to a new environment, a few steps away from home and, at the same time, a few steps closer to the so very different culture we were about to embrace, in mighty Brazil. We also wanted to see how Maya is adapting to changing homes often. And, at the beginning of our travel, we wanted to test this in an environment we felt comfortable with. We have visited Spain so many times before that it was a good place to make this first step into the big round world.

Also, I was still working with my company – the Cluj job I mean, Vlad typing here – for the last month remotely, and Roxana needed time to launch the Indiegogo campaign for her first book. So the planes took us the Canary Islands, this time on the Gran Canaria Island. We’ve been here before, Roxana and I stayed in Tenerife Island two years ago. And we truly felt the wanders of such a bohemian lifestyle: the sweet island life. When going round and round always leads to beautiful beaches and then to the immense ocean itself. Beaches with tiny, dark, volcanic sand grains or with rocky landscapes, being tormented by splashy, salty waters, that wash your face and your soul, all of this while eating papaya, melon or pineapple.

As Silvia, a very dear friend, was living in Gran Canaria and made a few times the invitation to come and visit, we thought it was a good spot to prepare for South America. Back home, it was hard, we barely found the time to do so – it always seemed like we were fixing home stuff and we had very little time to allocate for planning the travels. We were stuck in our living-in-one-place mentality and we needed so much to get out of that box to make magic happen.

Gran Canaria is composed of many little towns, and a few big ones. Las Palmas is the most important one and also the ‘capital’ of the Canary Islands. So we did look for accommodation there, but unfortunately, we had to divide our stay in different locations, just to make sure we are fitting in the budget. In the beginning, when taking the decisions and planning, we also wanted to live in small towns and villages just to have a friendly environment for baby Maya. But it was just an illusion that we couldn’t do that in Las Palmas. It is such a welcoming city, more or less the size of our home town, Cluj-Napoca. A city that has the beachy vibe going on, with surf spots, diving places, narrow streets, nightlife, access to culture and a lot of historical heritage. In retrospective, it would have been much easier – and even cheaper, in the end – to just look for just one single accommodation in Las Palmas. As time is money, if you sum up all the time spent and all the bus tickets, it would have been better to do it like that. Beyond all of this, we did our best and then adapted to all the moves and readjustments.

We lived in Santa Brigida, Las Palmas, and Telde – all using Airbnb.  Each of these spots was our home for more or less 10 days – all in all, a month.

The perfect spot for us was the Airbnb from Las Palmas. Close to the beach, at something like a 10 minutes walk from Las Canteras, and with a great host  – Bernabe, we indeed felt like home. Bernabe is a pure “Canariot”, born and raised in Las Palmas, from grandfather to father and sun, passionate about music, arts, and graphic design. He was not staying at home that much, so we practically had the whole flat just for us and his hamster for most of the time. 

Bernabe was so kind to also borrow me his board and wetsuit for surfing near, on the very long Las Canteras beach. It is so casual for Las Palmas to just carry your board for a few hundred meters, to reach waves that are quite a few meters high. We were lucky enough to see an impressive ocean, with tormented waters and tall, powerful waves. This, in some of the grey and rainy days we have had in Gran Canaria. We met a few nomad families traveling with their babies in Las Palmas, mostly mixed nationalities families. It was nice to see that people do this as a lifestyle and that it works. It was also very nice to see Maya enjoying all of her new friendships and human connections with such openness and joy. Even in our very last days in Las Palmas, we were still discovering nice streets, with pubs and restaurants, very close to our accommodation. So we are very excited about our next time in the city.

Maya playing on Las Canteras beach with Maya from Germany, a fellow baby traveler

Santa Brigida is a small town situated on the inland eastern part of the island. Even if you can walk it in one hour, the charming parts of it made it quite enjoyable.

Thin, stone-paved streets, with white walls, funky house numbers, and crazy colourfull flowers are nice to observe on a slow walk. All situated above the palms, cactus and aloe ambient reigning across the rocky valley near Santa Brigida. Small island towns seem to have this time-stands-still kind of vibration. I have noticed this especially in the Mediterranean areas, such as Italy, Greece or Spain, and it also applies to The Canary Islands, in my opinion (Roxana typing here). Santa Brigida was like this. One of the easiest-to-notice effects of this phenomena is the Groundhog Day sensation. We visited almost every day the communal “finca” (it was a farm close to the center of the village, where you could see the animals and even agricultural bits of land). Maya was happily meeting all sorts of animal friends that she very much enjoyed, such as goose, goats, peacocks, and piglets. But the farm was a breath of fresh air that got old very fast. So the bus to Las Palmas and the Las Canteras beach helped a lot.

On an island, it is very important how you pick the spot where you want to live. Everything is so influenced by the ocean’s currents and by the landforms. Nature’s force is augmented in this miniature continent. Therefore the worst part about living in Santa Brigida was the climate there being influenced by its setting on the island. It is located on the upper side of the mountains, so – at least to us – it seemed always colder than Las Palmas, windier and a bit wetter. During our stay, it rained a lot and we had some grey skies chili days – so our raincoats were crucial assets. We had a host that lived with us, her name was Dolores. She is a Zumba teacher, passionate with Reiki and the power of materialization. Dolores moved to the Canary Islands more than 20 years ago, from Cuba. She has a daughter that lives in Scotland, where she studies. She doesn’t like the Canary Islands, while her mother doesn’t want to live anyplace else.  Sometimes, people move and then they don’t want to move anymore. They find their place, they say. Accompanied by that feeling of belonging – that we all feel, at one point or another of our life.

We had 2 difficult nights in Santa Brigida and then in Las Palmas with Maya. Maybe some of the most difficult ones in her baby life. There was a lot of crying and holding in arms, with pain for her, nerves stretched for us and tiredness for all of us. Some moments got us very much apart and then very much closer to each other. And we felt that belonging. But one that does not depend on any space. One that feels like, no matter where we would be, going through sweet or through sour, just by being together, we are all OK. And that the most precious place in the world is the place that finds us close together.

Telde was the last city we stayed in. Not our cup of tea, but it worked for us as a place to stay.

As we did spend most of our days either working or exploring, mostly in the city of  Las Palmas. We initially picked Telde as the last spot also because it was closer to the airport, at least that’s what the map said. But, in the end, we figured it was just as complicated, or maybe even more, to get to the airport from there than from Las Palmas – and we got out of the island by cab to the plane, just as we got in, but from Las Palmas.

Probably the most comfortable thing about our whole location set in Telde was the very nearby “pescaderia”, with fresh mussels and shrimp, that could make a delicious homemade meal at a more than decent price (3 euros per person for a mussels plate).  The Airbnb there was the only accommodation we had only for ourselves, enjoying a full flat. We also had one of Maya’s grandmothers visiting for a while, so the whole apartment setting helped this a lot. It was a time for both family joy and a little bit of freedom from Maya’s needs, so we could focus more on our projects and on planning the trip we had ahead. In that Telde flat is where Roxana’s crowdfunding campaign was launched and our first contacts with our Brazilian volunteering hosts were set. Some of the remarkable moments while living in Telde were the long walks. We discovered the wonderful Bufadero de la Garita, Playa del Hombre, Playa Melenara. This part of the island was not a set for pedestrian walking, as we did, but still, we had very pleasant sunset moments, with wind and sand as our satisfaction, after kilometers of asphalt and unfriendly (or even missing) sidewalks. My favorite places in Telde – Roxana here – were the San Juan Park, with all sorts of palms and cactus species, with cocks and cats lying all around, sleeping or walking freely, and then the impressive Columbarium (box ashes cemetery) near it. One afternoon, in warm sunlight, I have discovered it together with Maya, and its image got stuck with me ever since.

Our exit from the island, after our nice late autumn stay, happened eventually from Las Palmas, at 4 am, accompanied by a kind Uruguayan taxi driver we have met one month back, in our first day there. Then, he had offered to take us by cab to the bus main station, just because we were laying on the side of the street with 2 big mountain backpacks, a baby and a stroller, without knowing what to do because of a marathon that got public transportation blocked and taxi requests going crazy. He was busy, he had 2 clients in his big car’s back seats, but he still stopped to take us and share the ride with the others. We were happy to see South Americans helping us out on our path to their continent, even before getting there. So it was very nice that he was the one to also give us the last ride on the island, right before our planes take us to Brazil, to Argentina and then, to his home country, Uruguay.

So these were the places we lived in during our stay in Gran Canaria. And, as all places have their soul and their people, there are still some stories to be told. We got the joy of seeing so many other faces of this island, during our one month stay. But for revealing those worlds, some more words will be written. All this, for the joy of reconnecting with the lived moments, and for the blessing of sharing them with you.

Have questions for us? Want to tell us a perfect phrase of encouragement? Be brave, send us an email, and we will be in touch!

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The Wanderers of Earth