Alan is just five years old, but that is enough to have some very clear ideas. He also has a bigger brother that serves as a perfect example. When Alex takes flight with a paraglider, it is clear that Alan will do exactly the same. Alan flew up to over a kilometer high, passing right through the clouds. Then flew around for a while checking out the scenery and went back down to earth for a very smooth landing.
Preparation, equipment check, double check, patiently waiting for a breeze, take-off, flight, journey into the clouds and, very important, the landing were anxiously watched by Alan’s parents, but Alan also had some very special attention! The instructors daughter (already an experienced para-glider herself), who made sure everything was okay and Alan was in good hands :).
After Alan’s journey he told us he had a great time, but once his flight outfit was removed he almost ran to a nearby almond tree to pick some Almonds. It made me suspect that Alan was still a bit to young to realize the value of this experience. Something which was clearly different with his bigger brother.
Alan’s flight resulted in a great experience for him, and some great photos and videos for us. If you want to float across the valley on El Hierro you can do it with Ondrej from Fly El Hierro. A massively experienced professional who provided a great experience. Highly recommended when jumping with kids!
Alex is only 10 years but that did not stop him from conquering his fears and making a big jump. We are so proud of him and he had a really good time. As a preparation we first went to just look at the whole process. Everything involved from preparation, gearing up, checking and double checking everything. Getting ready, patiently waiting for a good breeze, take-off, flight and, very important, the landing at the end.
The first day we only observed. Alex had started out a bit anxious, but quickly became more and more confident as we got to know the instructor a bit and familiarized ourselves with the routine involved. The next day Alex was the first who wanted to go. He took off to the skies and went up to over a kilometer high! He dived into the clouds, and got to handle and turn the para-glider. After a bit of sightseeing from the sky he went back down for a smooth landing. After Alex showed the way his little brother Alan also ventured into the skies.
Alex was very happy with his jump. His instructor told us that Alex was really enjoying himself up in the air. It was a great and valuable experience for Alex, and together with the preparation we did a day earlier it is easily the best experience Alex had during his holiday this year. He has really grown because of this experience. Adapting to a new situation by first observing, gaining trust, and shedding unjustified fear is a lesson that can prove valuable for the rest of his life. For Alex it easily won over his other experiences like the boat trips, Loro park, Siam park, the encounter with an octopus, the watering of lizards, various swimming pools, forest walks, the bbq, etc.
Alex is already planning his next flight. The next time he wants to do something special. Solve a Rubiks cube while up in the air! We are still evaluating if this is something we are confident with. Alex’s instructor Ondrej on El Hierro is literary one of the best para-glider in the world, but paragliding is still an inherently dangerous sport (hanging in the sky at a huge altitude with nothing but a couple of strings connected to a big sheet == clearly dangerous, even if the instructor is packing a backup parachute), so we need to see if this is something we want to repeat closer to home.
Alex’ flight resulted in a great experience for him, and some great photos and videos for us. If you want to float across the valley on El Hierro you can do it with Ondrej from Fly El Hierro. A massively experienced professional who provided a great experience. Highly recommended when jumping with kids!
Sioux City in Gran Canaria is a nice park to have a look at the wild west. With a bank robbery, gunfights, stampedes, running horses and cowboys and indians everywhere it is a really fun place to discover. We even had a BBQ included with our entry ticket.
The saloon was also in typical Cowboy like fashion. There was even a piano where Alex tried some of his songs. To bad the rough cowboys had already disables a couple of keys.
This year we visited Torrevieja again with the family. A vacation marked by hanging around the pool, or squeezing our towels in on a small piece of beach populated by a massive crowd. Keeping in mind we need to apply sunblock every couple of hours because the sun here is merciless.
Overall the most important thing is that the kids enjoy themselves, and this is very easy here. At times even we get some profound relaxation done then the kids doze off, or when they are playing with they friends.
Who would have thought it possible that Ana would be the main news in the local papers thanks to Angelina Jolie. Ana does research and screening for generic markers related to breast cancer. A topic that recently became world news thanks to Angelina. The current awareness resulted in interviews, newspaper articles and publications.
Since the end of the world did not occur Alex got in the mood to take a little more risks. He wanted to visit some crocodiles. Luckily for his there is a big park with crocodiles (cocodrilo park) right here on Gran Canaria near Agüimes and they claim there are more than 300 crocodiles walking around the park. During our visit we could even touch a few little crocodiles and Alex liked this a lot. In the park there were a lot more animals like chickens, rabbits, parrots, snakes, dear, monkeys and more and Alex at times didn’t know where to look. Some of the animals like the chickens and the rabbits seemed to be in high risk to end up as crocodile food but this is maybe just my incorrect assumption.
The ark itself was very charming. It was almost the opposite to a normal commercial park. The tickets to get in were cheap. The food was priced normally and the park was big enough to spend a couple of hours. The park is closed on Saturdays and open the rest of the week from 10:00 till 17:00. At 1 they feed the crocodiles which is like a show and afterwards there is a clown performance.
Surprisingly, the personal was not commercially trained, but they were ‘real’. The boy that was clearly there to take our picture with some parrots did not even bother to make a picture. He started telling us about his parrots and that sometimes one of them bites. One female parrot could be held by men, but did not like to be held by women. We were allowed to pet the parrots and continued our stroll through the park.
An older Canarian that worked on the park took some time to tell us about his work and his relation with one of the apes. In his time working at the park he had developed a relation with one of the apes,Judith, and now he trusted the ape and the ape trusted him. I have never seen a person talk with so much emotion about his relation with and ape and even enter in a discussion with said ape. This was very nice to see.
Gran Canaria is a small island of about 40 kilometers. The capital of the island is Las Palmas and, surprisingly for such a small island, this is one of the 10 biggest cities in Spain. The strange thing about Gran Canaria is that the island is divided in two distinct parts, north and south. Las Palmas is in the north of the island and here it is often a little clouded. The south is the domain of the tourists. Here you will find lots of hotels and the best beaches. The area has the most sunshine of the island. The weird thing is that the inhabitants of the island actually refer to ‘the south’ when they talk about the tourist areas.
The passed Easter weekend we enjoyed a holiday in the south. Together with some friends from Madrid who were visiting the island we rented an apartment. We were three couples, three babies and one pregnant girl so basically what we did was bath in the sun (Alex beneath a parasol) and stay near the apartment because it is difficult to make plans with one baby.. but making plans with three babies is an impossible task.
Alex enjoyed his holiday a lot and even applying factor 50+ sunscreen did not seem to bother him. He slept very well and got used to being around other babies. At first he was a bit scared of all those strange new people around but he adapted quickly to his new surroundings and to the new people picking him up. Alex even had a surprise for us, after the holidays he is suddenly talking a lot more! He keeps muttering and a word we hear a lot is ‘tit’. He’s just like his father.
In the first quarter of 2012 Spain needs to save 8,9 million euro. The government wants to reduce the deficit and does this by freezing the salaries of civil servants and higher taxes on income, savings and property.
We have noticed the changes up close. After 5 years of loyal service you suddenly get a contract for a month. You should have had an indefinite contract after being employed three years. Your salary went down last year and this year it drops again a little bit, and suddenly you have to work on some Saturdays. The future is unsure and nobody knows what will happen. Uncertainty and rumors are everywhere. This is what is going on with the personal of hospitals in Spain. The government is cutting back on spending, and doing it rigidly. What will be the result?
Thy cannot stop all these contracts, because it will increase the unemployment rate a lot, and they will have to pay all these unemployed people (there is already an unemployment rate of around 20%). It’s true that an unemployed person gets less money, but his contribution to the economy is zero. On the other hand the uncertainty is resulting in a direct stop in unnecessary spending. A new car… lets wait a while ans see what happens. Slowly the Spanish economy is coming to a stop, and it will be quite a task getting it running again.
This weekend I was planning to follow the wine route of the Gran Canary Island with a couple of friends.
Although I’m really ignorant about wines I do like to drink a glass of wine every now and then. I found out that the Gran Canary Island has quite a history of growing grapes and wine production. Between the 16th and 18th centuries wine was the most important exported product.
Right now wine has no more importance for the local economy but there are still a number of sites near the capital Las Palmas where the still have some production of wines.
The value of wine production for the touristic industry is slowly being increased, because the locals found out that there is profit in wine drinking tourists, but there is still a long road to travel. There is a route past six bodegas near Las Palmas. Sadly you need to inform quite specifically in an information point to get the information and than you need to arrange everything yourself. Call the bodegas yourself, make the appointments and arrange transport for the visits.
There is no need to go unprepared. A document to value the wines is a good thing to bring.
In the end the wine route proved to be a typical Spanish thing. If you don’t speak Spanish it will be impossible to make any arrangements. From the six bodegas 2 could not be reached. One was closed and another was only interested in bigger groups. A third was only open from 17:00 till 20:00, but only on Saturday. The last bodega told me we were welcome in October.
Finally we cancelled our wine route. Not so unexpected that this route is no so much published. Maybe in some months we’ll try again.
Right in the middle of Gran Canaria you find a nice piece of nature and in the middle of it all a nice big rock called ‘Roque Nublo‘. The name simply means rock in the clouds.
This rock used to be revered by the original inhabitants of the island who thought it was a holy rock. On this photo you see the rock and on the background the volcano of Tenerife, the Teide, which is also the highest point of Spain.