Tuesday February 24th 2015.
Falow Pension, Las Palmas, Gran
So I flew out of Exeter, the cheapest
place to get to in the Spain kinda direction was Las Palmas in the
Canary Islands, got a flight for forty quid and accommodation for a
tenner a night, so why not. Plus, it’s easy to get out of here to
Seville- which is where I’m heading next.
At the check-in they weigh my carry on
and it’s almost twice as heavy as it should be which means that I’m
going to have to check it and that’ll cost forty-eight pounds. More
than the flight itself. The woman who tells me this feigns
disappointment, apologizes, and tells me
that’s just the way they do things. She is fucking loving this. This
is her favourite bit of the job. I think, maybe I should just buy a
ticket for someone else, kill them and stuff them full of my things
and then save eight pounds. I don’t do this. Partly because it’s
illegal and partly because there just isn’t enough time. The sadistic
harpy at the counter suggests that I see if there’s anything I can
leave behind- which is fucking ridiculous- my shit weighs nine kilos
and it needs to be five, although apparently five and a half or five
point seven is usually fine. Fine. I drag my shit away and see what I
can stuff in my pockets. I consider putting on all of my clothes. On
a scale, not in use, I place my laptop which alone weighs almost
three kilos (I didn’t get round to getting some slim, sexy,
lightweight, travel-friendly thing- I’m stuck with the beast from
2007). Okay, I decide this is obviously not going to work and queue
up again and prepare to get shafted for nearly fifty quid, I just
want to get the fuck out of England, I’ll offset the cost, I reason,
by not eating for the first three days in Spain. Just stale bread,
bananas and water. I’ll fast, like a yogic monk. I’ll slim down.
It’ll be fine.
I step up to the counter once more, the
harpy has gone and there’s a different woman at the counter. I tell
her, “I’m going to have to check this,” and I have my Visa in
hand, ready to be milked like a reluctant teat. She takes my
passport, slaps away at the keyboard and says, “It’s alright, it
depends who you get.” She’s letting me just take my shit on, there
is no fee. I tell her I love her. (I actually do tell her I love
her.) She hardly reacts, she’s just too cool. I play it cool too.
We’re both playing it cool. I realise this is her favourite part of
the job- stopping people from being shafted- fucking with the harpy-
she is the yin to her yang, or the yang to her yin- whichever the
good one of them is- she’s that one. Maybe she’ll be my girlfriend,
that’d be nice. I stride through security fifty quid up, a great day
at the races so far.
The flight out was full of old people,
which is terrifying- I mean I knew it was a touristy spot but I was
pretty sure on a huge fucking island I’d be able to avoid the
English. Anyway, flight was five hours. Dozed, read, dozed, read,
looked out of the window, had a piss, dozed a bit more. The plane
lands and I’m the first at passport control. “Buenas tardes,” I’m
a fucking natural. The dude in uniform says nothing. Fuck you, I’m
going to have a great time. I take my passport, “Muchas gracias,”
that’s right matey, I’m not like these other gringos, I speak the
lingo. You’re welcome Pedro!
I follow the signs for the bus.
Intrepid travellers do not get taxis, they’re for losers. I’m outside
and decide to ask a cabbie where the local bus runs from. He speak
fast as fuck, but I manage to understand, “near the little red
light,” which, combined with him pointing in one of only two
directions it’s possible to go is enough info to go on. I march on
and in my wake a grey-haired Englishman says, “You seem to know
where you’re going, walking with a purpose…”
“Are you looking for the bus?” I
ask, knowing that he is and knowing that I am definitely better than
him at this.
“It’s over there by the little red
light. I just asked a cabbie (in Spanish because I speak Spanish
which you don’t).”
I ask him where he’s going, he’s
heading to the south, I’m heading north. He says he’s been to
Tenerife before but never to Gran Canaria. What a twat, he’s not even
in my league, I’m only here because it’s a cheap gateway to somewhere
actually good. I begin to explain this but then stop because I
realise I’m obviously going to come across as a cock- which I am, of
sorts. I mumble some banality about their being a great big volcano
here which people go up, which is awesome, isn’t it?
At the bus stop it appears that his bus
is not for another hour whereas mine literally pulls up that second.
I say bye and good luck, although the luck is clearly all mine.
So the bus went South, not North.
South. For about an hour. I’d gotten on the #90 not #91. I tried to
convince myself for the first half an hour that maybe it was one of
those buses that went everywhere, which is what local buses do in
these countries, isn’t it? They follow an illogical pattern because
they’re run by people who don’t have the organizational skills and
wherewithal of my people (whomever they are these days).
The good thing about this massive fuck
up was that I got to see the South of the island, which was full of
beaches, but basically touristy as fuck. The city of Las Palmas in
the North- which it took me three hours to get to (it’s a twenty
minute bus ride away) is full of legitimate Spaniards doing Spanish
things, although it has a micro climate making it cloudy as fuck all
of the time. Which I’m fine with because I’m having a much more
authentic experience than everyone else who has ever been here.
My digs are perfect. Simple, very
clean, quiet. There’s a towel and a sink in my room which means I
don’t have to go to the toilet in the night. They must know this is
what’s going to happen. They simply must.
I shower and head out for a wander. I
stop and have a beer in the smallest bar here- maybe eight seats. The
Dad stands out front and the little boy who can be no older than ten
or eleven serves me a beer and I pay one Euro. I wander some more and
find a place to eat with a set menu (there are options within it) for
eight Euros. Two guys work the counter, make coffee, do takeout,
answer the phone, do the dishes, plate the food, pour beer-
everything. I have a vegetable soup (it has bits of pork in it- I
love the Spanish), grilled fish with a tomato/ red pepper sauce and
boiled potatoes (there’s loads of it), a flan-type thing (leche
asada- there’s loads of this too) and I drink a beer and a very good
glass of Rioja.
When I pay, I’m confused because it’s
only ten Euros- apparently the set menu includes a drink and the vino
was only two Euros ($3!). I’m definitely winning today. I roll home,
stuffed, read a bit of Hemingway and am asleep by ten.