Gran Canaria, Spain: Where even the Cliffs are being covered in Concrete

I really enjoy the pleasures of a tropical holiday. Sand, seas, sunshine, eating out every night, experimenting with native cuisine and new wines or beers, travelling into idyllic countryside, enjoying all the fun of a family leisure park with my children represents my idea of a perfect break from everyday life in Ireland.
Due to the fact that my wife Cepta has a sister living in Gran Canaria, we tend to book an apartment there once every 2 years.
The island has a lot going for it.
Fantastic beaches; sandy dunes straight out of some Sahara setting, stunning volcanic landscapes, mountain lakes and grand canyons. There are significant wildlife sanctuaries in the hinterland, a strong emphasis on maintaining cultural heritage by the preservation of old-style architecture in the villages of the interior that include traditional streetscapes and the finest of small baroque churches. There are also unique clusters of cave house dwellings carved into the sides of mountains where people still happily live. Within the modern holiday resorts there is an excellent safe cycling and pedestrian infrastructure and a myriad of family theme parks, the most noteworthy being Aqualand.
Paradise Lost
However the island is increasingly degenerating into one of the worst examples of the ‘Spanish disease’ as the authorities systematically destroy the land and seascapes with tasteless over-development. Everywhere you look there is non-stop construction of massive complexes of bland uniform apartment blocks and hotels. Once stunning cliff faces and picturesque little fishing villages are being covered over with urban concrete jungles. The developments now stretch along great swathes of the southern and eastern coastlines. Even further inland beyond Telde so many table top mountains and valleys are victims of urban sprawl. The majestic canyons south of Mogan are now dotted with housing and are almost unrecognisable from the panoramic landscapes that appeared in the 1960’s Spaghetti Westerns starring Clint Eastwood. What land is not now being built on is oftentimes characterised by great swathes of horrible plastic marking locations for industrial market gardening.
The end result is that one is faced with miles and miles of ugly high-rise tourist developments and rows of often cheap tacky plastic-coated shops, bars and restaurants that have all but obliterated Canarian culture.
The Canarians are killing the goose that lays the golden egg.

Irish Centre: 'Tacky'
I have to give a special mention to the so-called 'Irish Centre' in Maspolomas which consists of a series of Irish-themed pubs, nightclubs, shops and a number of boarded up businesses. It looks outdated, bland and seems very short of clientele. The loud music from one bar eats into the environment of its neighbour leading to an ever-competing ever-losing battle of sound between the different venues to the ultimate detriment of any sober patrons present. A mix of ear-shattering dance music, burgers and chips, never-ending drinks promotions, pool tables and large tv screens is not my idea of the best way to promote Irish culture. Sadly there is little here these days to attract anyone truly interested in Celtic music or dance.

As a person interested in observing wildlife, I always take advantage of journeying to Los Palmitos Zoo Park. Though one can be disappointed to find that the park’s birds and fish life are largely caged and not native to the island. Yet the setting in the interior of the island is wonderful and the park is also populated with hordes of wild geckos and the famed indigenous Gran Canaria lizard.

Endangering DolphinsBut an excursion from Puerto Rico to view dolphins can as a bit of a shock. We did came across a large pod of dolphins. But what was upsetting was the decision of the skipper to drive the boat right into the area where the animals were obviously feeding. The sound of the boat’s motors must have been very distressing to these sea mammals and would have totally distorted their sonar mechanism. I recently wrote to the government offices at Las Palmas with photographic evidence of this activity and requesting the authorities to do more to protect marine life by introducing stringent new rules to govern boat-owners in their marine excursions

On a separate note...
Gran Canaria: A Connection with Ancient Ireland & India
In my excursions inland, I was amazed to discover a district known as Tara. I was told that it was pre-Spanish in origins and was the name given by the Guanches, the first known inhabitants of the Canary islands, to the Mother Goddess. Wow!
In Ireland, Tara is the most sacred of pre-Christian Celtic sites. But its history goes back to the mythical Tuatha Danann or the people of the Mother Goddess Dana. Both ‘Dana’ and ‘Tara’ appear as powerful fertility goddesses in ancient Hindi dating back thousands of years BC.
To think that two Atlantic islands, one located off the coast of Europe and one off the coast of Africa, had historical connections with the heart of Asia in Neolithic times is mind-blowing.
We tend to think of these prehistoric peoples as primitive savages living in small isolated communities. But maybe many were part of an ancient ‘Global Village’?
We still have much to learn of our ancestors.

Santa Brigida: Irish Female Saint of Fertility
To deepen the connection between the Canary islands and Ireland even further, just north of Tara is the district of Santa Brigida which is called after the Irish saint Saint Brigit.
Brigit was the earliest and most renowned of all female Celtic saints whose fame spread across Catholic Europe. But it is thought by some that she was originally a chief priestess to a powerful pagan goddess also known as Brigit who was associated with female fertility. Can you believe it?!!! Check out my previous article on St. Brigit and the power of Celtic women.

1 comment:

The Dark Angel of Music said...

A very interesting report about the Situation over there in Gran Canaria Brendan ,
sadly I guess this happens almost evrywhere where a touristical aspect becomes serious .

I have seen this on my own in Istria/Croatia where my family spent the summer vacations for some years : in the first years (we first came down there in 1997 ,just a short time after the end of the balcan wars) there were mainly tourists from the north of Italy (close to this Area) and some German tourists or Austrians ,the prices n touristical offers were quite low .
within some years Croatia became known as a "cheap vacation country" n then the touristical attractions,camping places and evrything else popped out of the earth like mushrooms,the prices increased n now it's almost the same as vacations in Germany !!

That wave will fade one day I'm sure,it happens always ,now those tourists go there that are disappointed of Italy (which definately had better times of tourism n touristic offers) so now Italy's tourism streams are abit decreasing .

Spain is playing a very risky game ,tourism can bring your country wealth but there's always a zenit where it can crash downhill again.
Spain especially wastes and risks their landscape for tourism purposes ,pumping water up in deserts for greening them with grass so u can play golf there ,that will take a bad end one day ,the economy of Spain is already in a downfall .

That tourism center you mentioned sounds familiar to many other ,no matter what they promote ,as a Musician I can really agree there is a "loudness war" in music matters, silence or soft sounds aren't asked ,just the loudest music will be heared.

Slan ,Julian