We just left Puerto de Mogan on Gran Canaria, and share these pictures and stories, partly to explain our long stay.
When we left Sweden last August, the Canaries were meant to be a way station, on the way to wintering in the Caribbean. But we’ve liked it here, and have never had quite the same feeling about the places we have visited in the Caribbean. And so we have tarried. Could it be some small amount of procrastination on the crossing? Maybe. But why try to unpack that? All things being equal, we’d rather be here than in, say, St. Lucia. We’re reluctant to say goodbye to “Europe” before we have to.
We are anomalies here. There are no other Americans. Europeans can fly to the Canaries in several hours, but Americans have to put aside three days to come and return. (It used to take less, but we are told that direct flights from the U.S. pretty much stopped after the 1977 airport disaster at Tenerife.)
It has been a dream spot for the kids. There was a good playground nearby. It was a five-minute stroll to the beach. And the small old-town streets with their shops and good but fairly-priced restaurants made for hours of exploring. And with a good Internet connection, Sima and I were able to tackle some non-sailing related tasks.
Unlike other parts of the Canaries, Puerto Mogan has been tastefully developed. The “new” town, the so-called “Little Venice,” consists of white-painted accommodations of limited height. They look like traditional Meditteranean townhouses. Flowering plants and creeping vines grace boxes and trellises that line the small streets.
This old-town feel is to be compared with the giant, square hotels that mar the hillsides along other parts of the coast. We had seen this same contrast in the Aegean. On the islands, the Greeks have controlled and limited development and, for the most part, kept their post-card pretty towns intact, with small, alabaster houses and mini-hotels. The Turks, on the other hand, have allowed the building of countless Soviet-like monstrosities that have overtaken just about the entirety of the country’s southwestern Mediterranean coastline.
Puerto de Mogan, on the other hand, was a seamless mix of old and new.
There was a marked difference between the old town and the new. The line of demarcation was a wide boulevard, to the west, and a canal, the north. In the old town, the only language was Spanish, and old men congregated on street corners playing dominoes and cards at all hours. Restaurants here were 50% less dear than those on the other side of the road, with no diminished quality. On the other hand, outside of this area was a polyglot’s paradise, and we would typically hear four or five languages being spoken from where we sat on the beach.
But there was a draw-back with Puerto de Mogan. In the end, we certainly did get to know a few Canarios, but we met many more Irish, Norwegians, Swedes, Lithuanians, English, French, Russians, and Germans. We missed out the local culture that we might have better experienced in one of the less-touristy spots on another, smaller island.
One of the locals that we got to know was Angel. His son, Diego, played soccer with Alexander. It was Diego and Angel who gave Alexander the Mogan uniform, and Paul a Mogan football jumper.
We had a nice surprise when we learned that, by chance, one of my best friends from Sweden, Bo Karlson, happened to be vacationing in Puerto Taurito, the next bay over from Mogan. Bo was spending a week in Gran Canaria with his daughter, Alma. We got together several times and it was great fun seeing him again. (We had last seen Bo in Stockholm, where he took great care of us during our visit there.
We had time for some great hikes, both in the hills above Mogan and further away, in the mountains that run the spine of the island.
We hiked up to the Roque Nublo (literally, the “Rock in the Clouds”) in the middle of the island. The Rock, the remnants of a volcanic vent, sits in the middle of an ancient caldera. The surroundings provided a visual map of the various stages of volcanic development, and were a great teaching tool for Alexander.
We finally sailed away on 25 January, after more than two months in the same place, one of our longer stays.
Leander departing Puerto de Mogan for Las Galletas, in Tenerife. Thanks, Margaretha Larsson, for the great picture!
We’ve now sailed 55 miles to Tenerife, just next door in the Canaries. The trip was uneventful (which translates to “pleasant” in cruiser-talk!). We’ve continued getting the boat ready for the cross, and its good to have a couple of short “shakedown” sails like this to make sure that all the mini-repairs don’t create mini-problems. The boat is just about ready. Soon, we will be too.