Saturday, 7 March 2015


When I was a student I went to Sicily where I met a family who lived in a cave. It had a normal-looking front door and lace-curtained windows, but the interior was an ancient cleft in the tall cliffs overlooking a bay. From their small patch of hot earth they had a modest but sufficient harvest of potatoes, grapes, tomatoes etc, and from the sea they had their fish. It struck me very forcibly how this modest way of living was fantastically successful in terms of longevity. People had lived in that cave for perhaps tens of thousands of years, and though perhaps none of them had been kings, they had survived as an example of a way of existence. It was the lowliness which worked. Cave dwelling was in fact a kind of high-tide-mark for human culture.
Coming to Gran Canaria reminds me of that Sicilian visit. Modern life has impacted on an ancient culture so that you can see the glories and dismal failures of late 20th century entrepreneurship and the vestiges and disasters of the peasant life. So the mountains are stripped of their forests and the bare rock looks dead and difficult. The old fields marked out with piles of rocks are perhaps abandoned, and new plots marked out with concrete and plastic, waiting for the banks to splosh more dosh into the tourist trade.
You can see tiny mouldering farmsteads surviving in steep valleys which will never be of interest to the property developers.
We are staying in a hilarious holiday village, free, with breakfast, for one week. The deal is that we listen to a presentation about putting even more money into our timeshare scheme, but luckily for us the presentation is on Tenerife which is a fair distance away across the sea. I don't think they are doing a presentation on Gran Canaria. The village is called Green Club Oasis or something like that. Built in the 60s, with terraces of small duplex apartments which are now rather tired, but actually very well planned. It's free, it's in an interesting place, and it's ok.
Last night we went out in the car to explore... Andrew chose Mogan Port as our destination and I, not knowing there is a Mogan as well as a Mogan Port put the wrong one into the satnav. So we went up into the mountains, quite a long way winding up a V-shaped valley to a pretty and prosperous village, where a German guy at the cashpoint recommended a new resto called El Tomate, recently opened by two German women. 'Very economical' he said. 'But very good'.
It was. It was also hilarious.
We sat in a courtyard partly hewn out of the rock in near pitch-dark till the German owner brought us first a tea-light in a red glass, then a tea-light in a clear white glass, and ultimately a dazzling solar-powered table lamp. She advised us what to eat, from a wonderful menu of tapas and traditional dishes.
The food was spectacular and absolutely delicious. I predict this will become another one of those legendary places to eat, weird, poetic, arty, international. Don't forget, you read it here first. Cave dwelling is very attractive.

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