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Phespirit goes to Gran Canaria
Maspalomas     November/December 2011

Phespirit likes to ensure that at least one journey each winter will take him somewhere warm. This need was never greater than during November / December 2011 when the hot water and heating system in his house sprung a leak and had to be shut down. A replacement system would be expensive so the holiday would have to be cheap. EasyJet return flights to Gran Canaria fit the bill at just £98.98, including the extra for a checked-in hold-all; and seven nights self-catering at the Bungalows Duna Beach in Maspalomas, booked through alpharooms.com, came in at a mere £184.13. Ergo, a winter week of Canarian sunshine for just £283.11 - that would do nicely.

Two days of soaking up sunshine on the silky sands of Maspalomas cleared the frost from his skin and the ice from his veins. And having warmed up, Phespirit was ready for a little exertion. He decided to hike to Gran Canaria's most famous summit, the iconic Roque Nublo. He rose early, fried a couple of eggs for breakfast, then set out in good time to catch the 08:04 no.18 bus to La Culata, the village nearest to Roque Nublo. At 10:07, Phespirit quit the bus at the top of a road descending to the village.

Outside the temperature was 14°C, but a wind chill almost certainly drove this down to single figures in the strongest gusts. A mantle of white cloud clung tightly around the ridge upon which Roque Nublo stands proud. For one moment Phespirit thought he may have caught a fleeting glimpse of sacred monolith but the high mist quickly reclaimed its prize. As Phespirit walked on towards La Culata that mist descended damply around him. By the time he reached the centre of La Culata it had become a fine but persistent rain. Phespirit wasn't prepared for this. It was time for a tough decision, and there was only one sensible option: abort the mission.

He settled down in La Culata's stone bus shelter and waited an hour for the next bus - the 11:52 - headed south. He considered getting off at San Bartolomé and starting a different hike; the bus would get there at 13:10, a round-trip hike headed west then south then back northeast would take four and a quarter hours; the last bus out of San Bartolomé would depart at 18:10, arriving back in Maspalomas at 19:00. But the more he waited the less he could be bothered. As it turned out, he still had to get off at San Bartolomé and wait a bit over an hour for a connecting service but by then his mind was fixed. All he craved was a return to the warmth of the south coast.

The next day started with blue skies obscured by clouds; ended with distant mountains obscured by dust haze; and throughout endured a hard blowing wind. Not ideal, but Phespirit still made it to the beach. Pleasant conditions resumed on the morrow so he was at last able to complete a successful hike, across the barrancos from Arteara to Ayagaura, and beyond to Palmitos Park. Thus, when he closed out his week back on the beach it was not without having achieved anything at all.

Despite having visited the island twice in as many years, Phespirit seems to leave more unfinished business on Gran Canaria than most places. The previous year a road closure prevented him from visiting the celebrated town of Teror; this time the foul weather thwarted his hike to Roque Nublo. Reasons, therefore, to plan another return but with a wide world of other destinations still to be waiting tackled for the first time, who knows when the next attempt may come?

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