Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Tuesday, 29 May 2007
Tuesday, 15 May 2007
Monday, 14 May 2007
Sunday, 13 May 2007
On Saturday we finally got to go for a walk with llamas! We wanted to go a couple of weeks ago but it was fully booked for all the Sundays in May! With a maximum of 10 people at £25 a time for an hours walk we we impressed with the potential! The llama I walked was called Nicholas and he was three and a half and white. He was a little taller than me when fully upright but pretty laid back. In fact I think he was a bit of a nervous llama as he didn't like to walk too near the front or too near the back (probably in case a lion came and jumped on him!). He also had sensitive skin and I think it was a bit itchy as he liked to rub his neck up and down on my arm. I learnt that llamas are all different with different personalities. Leroy in the picture was a little mad and a bit bossy! Llamas, like all animals are primarily motivated by food and really saw the walk as a way of getting to eat a different patch of grass at every opportunity! They seemed pretty easy going up to a point, providing we followed their rituals ( a compulsory toilet stop at the llama loo on the way back) and they were certainly quite intelligent in a strange llama sort of way!
Mary, Queen of the world, we humbly ask you to bless and protect the cyclists of the world and help them to finish happily the main and final stage, which leads to heaven.
You have to understand the Tour de France to understand the true meaning of this! (And to have cycled up a good few hills in your time!)
For more details http://home-1.tiscali.nl/~edwinsel/misc_religie.htm
Thursday, 3 May 2007
On the last day of our holiday (Sunday) we cycled up to the village of Ayagaures. It was a very long as steep road climb and as it was the end of the week we were pretty tired when we got there. The village is next to a large dam. Water is a problem in Gran Canaria as in the South it is very hot and dry and in the mountains it is wet. Consequently the countryside is covered with various contraptions from old plastic pipes hung up with string to sophisticated dams and aqueducts designed to bring the water from the North to the South. When we got to the village they were preparing for some sort of celebration. A big barbecue was being started and people were sitting in the small village square or in the church. We stopped a while and then headed up the valley a mile or so, where we found a quiet spot to have lunch. After a sit down we decided that we were a bit too tired to do too much hard riding and so headed back to do a nice gentle downhill back to the hotel. On the way back to the village we heard fireworks going off and as we got to the dam a procession was starting up. The village people were on the dam wall and began walking back towards the square accompanied by musicians and singers, clapping out a steady beat. The procession came towards us and at the centre the priest lead four of the strongest village men carrying a statue of Jesus. They passed us and we followed behind them to the village square where they continued with their festival and we carried on back down the hill! I asked later in the hotel what the event was and the hotel staff said it was the local 'village day'. All the villages have them this time of the year one after the other. I suppose it may be a bit like our May fairs except the Canaria version are quite serious religious occasions. I mentioned it to Petra when she took us to the airport the following morning and she told us that the people in Gran Canaria are quite deeply religious people. They all attend church regularly, even the younger people, and they practice their religion sincerely.
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Ian and I have just spent a week in Gran Canaria. We organised it through a contact we found on the Internet. Petra is an Austrian woman who has lived with her family in Gran Canaria for 15 years and seems to have a role in organising and promoting cycling events and holidays. We took our bikes and she arranged a very nice hotel where they didn't mind us carrying the dirty bikes through the lobby after a days riding. We had a good time and rode on five out of the six days. We left the hotel around about 10.30 and usually had a 6 kilometre ride to get to the start of the mountains. From there it was uphill and there were certainly some hills! The Island goes from sea level to 1900 metres in about 20 miles so the hills are steep! Mind you, coming back is always downhill. The picture is of me riding up one of many hills on the first day. The track on the right of the picture is where we have just come from.
We did about 40 kms on average most days with a fair bit off road. It was also unusually hot for Gran Canaria (which usually has a perpetual spring like climate)and in the sun the temperature was 35-40c with no shade. On our first ride we almost ran out of water! Most evenings we got back to the hotel, showered, went to dinner early, managed to drink one beer and then couldn't stay awake past 9.00pm. We usually slept through until 8.30 the following morning. It felt quite natural to be so tired and to sleep for so long and to wake up feeling mentally refreshed (even if my legs still ached some mornings. Once back here I was soon back to later nights and a less peaceful sleep!