The end of my story of Spain
was the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands are an archipelago 65 miles west, and offshore Africa. The islands are an autonomous community of Spain. My destinations were the islands Lanzarote, and Tenerife. It was February — annual Carnival. Carnival is a high-horsepower Mardi Gras. It translated into sunshine, topless beaches, and night-long parties. Europeans swarm the Canaries for Carnival.
My primer was isle Lanzarote. It’s the desert island — dry, sand, and a few camels. My residence was on the south coast. It’s a windsurfers’ haven. A typical day during Carnival: mid-day breakfast, then beach walks followed by generous siestas. After sunset, streets jammed with costumes, music, and food, with no shortage of beer and liquor. I enjoyed my fair share. Daily celebrations began from 8 – 10 p.m, continuing to sunrise the following morning. Carnival was ripe for mischief and trouble. My plate included both. Women, booze, and cocaine flowed like water during Carnival.
One morning I rose to discover my wallet was missing. The sobering reality was, I’m 65 miles offshore Africa with nothing save my passport. No cash, cards, phone or local contacts. Just my passport. When I emerged into the lobby, the cacophony of languages reminded me I was fluent in none. Somehow, I put together a plan. I phoned my roommate in the states, he in turn phoned the Larsons in Asuturias, and they phoned me. They wired cash that day. Reasonable persons would learn from the lesson and behave; I caught my breath, then returned my pace that night. Didn’t want to miss anything.
After a few days on Lanzarote, I flew to isle Tenerife. Tenerife City is capital of the Canaries. My aim was Carnival’s two-week grand-finale — 3 days ahead. Word was, it was the mother of all celebrations. I laid low two days, making sure I’d enough steam for the finish line. A taxi took me to Tenerife City for Carnival’s two-week end. The taxi driver parked in an upper-level hotel parking garage. Between me and the streets was a short flight of stairs. As I ascended, an older costumed man faced me. His escort was a woman of perhaps half his age. The man donned an elaborate black cape and holding his mask. It was Jack Nicholson. I paused, made eye contact and moved on. I was sober and certain. Nicholson’s infamous for carousing and he asserts Carnival in Tenerife City is his favorite. Seeing Jack assured me I was in the right place for good times.
The only images I captured were of large bronze statues next to the Basillica of Candelaria on the Atlantic shoreline. They’re large, muscled giants. The place was Plaza de la Patrona, in the village of Candalaria. The statues tribute the aboriginal Berbers of the Canaries, and the Guanche Kings.