Monday, July 10, 2017

Ascent of Teide


The summit of Teide is small, so there is only a limited number of people who can fit.

This summer started well for me - I went up Teide, the tallest mountain of the Canary Islands, Spain, and the entire Atlantic basin. Sounds impressive, right? Though of course, as mountains go, it is not that huge - under 4 km. Still, I have never been anywhere over 2000 metres before, so... I am really quite pleased with myself and with the way it went.

It was all a bit sudden. I was studying the Arawak webpage for a while, thinking that maybe one day I should do it, while we live here on the Canaries. When on a walk with Arawak, I spoke to our guide about the indicated level of difficulty (3+/4 out of 5, that's pretty high). He said that in his opinion I had nothing to worry about, level-wise, but that if I wanted to do it in June, I had to book immediately, because there were very few places left (like, two). I nodded along, still undecided. Later, on the bus back to Las Palmas, he fiddled with his phone, turned to me and said "You know what, I've booked you just in case. You can always cancel it". That was a "волшебный пендель" (magical kick in the butt that speeds you along), and the end of my hesitations.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Playa de Güigüí, the secret beach

Impressive cliffs, right?


I suppose Guigui (pardon me for not going into all that umlaut nonsense from this point on*) is Gran Canaria's equivalent of Cofete beach on Fuerteventura. Although it is nowhere as large or as beautiful, it has one very important advantage - you can swim there reasonably safely without being swept into the ocean, never to be seen again.

One disadvantage (although it is debatable if this is indeed a disadvantage) is that Guigui is even less accessible than Cofete. There is no road at all; your choice is either walk or go by boat. Going by boat is expensive; plus, there is absolutely nothing at all on the beach, no bar, almost no shade in the second half of the day, zero, zilch, nada. And, if you decide to extract the maximum value out of the boat ride both ways and stay there for at least three hours you will end up severely sunburned and quite possibly really, really bored.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Inagua, the empty one

Some of the remaining old pines. Apparently, they grow in a very very uniform conical shape up to a certain age; after which they start to spread into an umbrella at the top.

I have refused to drive in the mountains on Gran Canaria ever since I got stuck on the pass of Degollada de las Yeguas on our way from Fataga to Ingenio. Having learned to drive in East Anglia, I prefer my roads straight, wide and flat; here I prefer to be driven. However, local public transport, although overall excellent, quite logically doesn't go where there are no people to carry. So some of the areas to the west of the island remained unexplored by me till this year, including some of the protected areas, such as Pilancones and Inagua.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Las Palmas carnival

By now we've been living on Gran Canaria for long enough to get a reasonably good idea of how the carnivals go here, and of course to take a decent amount of pictures. So I felt like writing it up. I've already done it once here, but now I know a little bit more.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Brussels and around

Grand Place, Brussels

What, exactly, is Belgium famous for, apart from unelected bureaucrats and Brussels sprouts (which are not featured that much in Belgian cuisine)? OK, beer. Fine, chocolate. French fries. Mussels. More beer. But, apart from the bureaucrats, sprouts, beer, chocs, fries and mussels, what have the Belgians ever gave us? Here's my short list.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Psychoactive plants illustrated

Inspired by Josep Lluís Berdonces i Serra's Guía de las plantas psicoactivas, here's our own short guide to ten common psychoactive plants and one famous psychedelic mushroom. It's just a sample, you understand. Click on "more photos" links under each image to get more Tamara's pictures from Shutterstock.

  1. Amanita muscaria, fly agaric, amanita matamoscas, мухомор красный. Main psychoactive compounds: muscimol, ibotenic acid.
  2. Fly agaric (more photos)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Flora of Gran Canaria - Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum, silver lace plant

Silver Leaf, Silver Feather, silver tansy, Magarza Plateada - common names describe the silvery leaves of the plant. Taken mid-May, in a relatively shady spot

I first noticed unusual-looking leaves of this plant in early spring last year. They were growing in compact round bushes, something between 40 cm and 80 cm in height. The color of the leaves was very distinct - light cyan. When you look closely at the leaves, you notice they are covered with short white fluff. The shape of each leave is very neat, Irish lace-like.

I made a note to myself to find out what the plants were. They turned out to be Tanacetum ptarmiciflorum, Gran Canaria endemic and endangered species according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List. I like plants in general, but finding something endemic and rare is always more pleasing. Especially when something in question is beautiful.