La Cueva Pintada

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I am sitting on the balcony this morning looking at a sunny sky populated by a few wispy clouds and the Canarian hills in the background.  Were I to sit in the right hand corner of the balcony, I could have a view of the ocean, as well.  Our room at the NH Imperial Playa hotel does not have a sea view.  There is a convention of pediatricians in town and they have booked all sea view rooms, as well as many others.  Given the fact that the ocean is almost at the foot of the hotel’s front door, we do not feel deprived.

It turns out that we chose a well positioned hotel, even though our intention was not to stay in a hotel, but rather to rent a place for a week.  I had found a penthouse apartment right on the beach with a jacuzzi on the terrace, as well as a barbecue.  I had founf it on Holiday Lettings, which is owned by TripAdvisor.  I reserved the place in June and sent in the deposit.  In July I contacted the owner asking for the exact address of the unit and the way in which we would get the keys to the apartment.  Since we would be arriving close to midnight I wanted to be sure that there would be no problem getting into the place.  I did not receive a response. 

I sent in the remainder of our rental price in mid-September once gain requesting the address and the way in which we would get the keys.  Again there was no answer.  I contacted Holiday Lettings.  I did not receive an answer from them, either.  I went on the web to see what kind of reputation Holiday Lettings had.  Pre-TripAdvisor it had a sterling reputation, but since the takeover it had turned into an absolute disaster.

There was a contact phone number for the owner. I called it and listened to a recorded message that said that no such number existed. I hung up and canceled our reservation.  I then lodged a complaint with PayPal and elevated it to a dispute.  On Saturday I learned that my rental minus the booking fee had been refunded.  On Tuesday I learned that the booking fee had been refunded.  We booke dour hotel last week and we chose well.

The hotel is modern.  Our room has two twin beds, a sitting area and a balcony,  There is free Wi-Fi that works well for our purposes, although the bandwidth is somewhat limited.  There is a premium option for 6 Euros a day that seems rather reasonable compared to what other hotels tend to charge.  The hotel is quiet and all outside noise tends to evaporate around 11:30.

Yesterday we met Juliet for breakfast at Panaderia Real and from there we headed off to La Cueva Pintada located in the nearby town of Galdar. The cave dates from the 12th century and was discovered by accident in the 19th century.  Time had covered it with a layer of volcanic soil that had been used in turn to plant bananas and during the harvest season, a worker fell through a hole and discovered the caves.  The owner of the property and the caves ceded ownership of the caves to the city and it was not until 1986 that a true archeological dig and restoration began.

The caves are housed in a modern building and tours are offered in four different languages.  The most modern technology co-exists in this building with the remnants of the Canaries aboriginal past.  The tour begins with a short film explaining the discovery of the caves and things that one will note during the tour.  The film is projected on a screen wider than most I have seen in movie theaters here.  When the film is over, the screen rises to reveal a wide window through which one gets a first view of the caves. The guide then assembles the group and off you go.

Most of what one sees are the remants of the original caves and one can appreciate the form and function of these dwellings.  At the end of the tour you visit two dwellings that have been constructed to allow one to appreciate what it was like to live in those dwellings.  A final video explains the hierarchical structure of the tribe and the elements that they used in order to paint the walls of the caves.  Most of the red color of the walls have disappeared with time and the presence of humans viewing the caves.  A good 50% of the wall painting in a ceremonial room remains.  That portion of the caves ia enclosed in glass and temperature and humidity are constantly monitored with state of the art instruments.  The tour takes less than an hour and I found it to be fascinating.

When the tour was over we spent some time and money in the museum shop and we then went in search of a cafe where we could have a drink before we made our way back to Las Palmas.  Juliet teaches one Spanish class a week and yesterday was her teaching day so we needed to be back in town before 2:00.  We made it without any problem.

We freshened up in our room and at 2:30 we decided it was time to go in search of lunch.  Close by the hotel is a restaurant that Zahava and Klaus had recommended and given that the place is always full the locals must share their opinion.  The restaurant is called La Marinera and it sits on the water.  The menu features more than a dozen varieties of fish all of which are fished locally and all of which are delivered fresh caught in the morning.  The fish can be prepared in a variety of ways and you can ask them to bone the fish for you or, if you prefer, you can do it yourself.

When we walked by the other day I noticed that they had arroz con bogavante on the menu and since we were on vacation and rarely order it when we encounter it in Valencia we already knew what we were going to order.  We were shown to our table and our waiter, Momo, suggested a bottle of a Canary white wine.  He offered us a taste, telling us that if we did not like it, he would gladly offer us a different bottle of wine.  The wine was perfectly crisp and refreshing so there was no need to make a change.

While we sipped the wine we studied the menu and decided to start with an ensalada marinera with smoked salmon and then to follow it with the rice and lobster dish.  Momo suggested we order half a portion of salad and his suggestion was spot on.  Had we ordered and finished the full size there would have been no room for the main course. While we were working on our salad Momo introduced us to our lobster and when we gave our approval Mom walked him to the kitchen to meet his destiny.

In due course our rice with lobster arrived.  It could have easily fed four.  As requested, Momo had shelled the lobster and we could appreciate the large pieces of lobster meat that populated the rice.  This arroz con bogavante was different than otherversions we have tried.  The Asturian version of this dish is made with olive oil and lots of garlic.  This version was a cousin to the arroz meloso that we have in Valencia.  It is made with a fish stock, tomatoes and a generous amount of saffron.  Although we tried our best, we could not even come close to finishing all the rice, although we did manage to eat all the lobster meat.

For dessert Momo suggested something that would be muy digestivo and he served us a dish of his own invention.  It is made with papaya, orange juice, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a generous dash of Gran Manier.  It had the consistency of a thick milkshake  and we made it disappear quickly.  After our coffee we were offered a chupito of Ronmiel and when we pushed our chairs away from the table to make our escape, somehow it had magically become 4:30.  As you can tell, we had an outstanding meal with outstanding service.  If time permits we will pay a second visit.

We went back to our room and did a little bit of this and that.  I used my time to write yesterday’s blog post.  At 9:00 we went in search of an ice cream and find one with little difficulty.  When we got back to our room, we read for a while and shut off the lights a little before 11:00.  Juliet will be coming by in about an hour and we will head out to the mountain town of Teror for a visit and a spot of lunch.

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