Jackhammers wake me up again, but the blue sky is clear. Thank God. I make an early start and try to change my cash to Euros at a bank the hotel manager suggested, but no good. I need to find another place to change my money. I can do that later. It’s a perfect morning. This is what I came for. This is what I will spend 13 hours cramped in an aluminum cylinder with 300 Swedes for. This is what I paid for, sunlight in November and six straight, warm days. I spend a couple hours on the Playa De Las Canteras, world class beach, As as it gets close to noon umbrellas blossom into needed shade. I spend a couple hours on the sand and love the unfamiliar heat. The beach is kind of peaceful in a busy way.
This promenade along the beach is lined with shops, and sidewalk handicrafts. Small, makeshift tables here and there are selling lotto tickets. I have no idea how I’d go about collecting if I won. One of the sellers has an amputated arm. There are all kinds of restaurants, Italian, Spanish places, and a couple Asian, but I don’t see any Indian. I’m wanting something with a lot of curry.
There’s no cars, or bicycles, or dogs along Paseo De Las Canteras. Set well back and high above the business along the way are huge, five star hotels that front on streets than carry traffic. They supply their guests plastic lounge chairs, and umbrellas from small tents along the beach. While looking for a place to eat I come upon a small parade. I’ve no idea what it’s all about. They’re singing something, but the only word I understand is, Africa—a lot of “Africa!s.”
Photo 1st parade
A crowd surrounds the players, move along with it. All kinds of people, young and old, and children wearing painted faces, follow fifteen, maybe twenty, men with instruments, some bearing flags and images. I move along with them, as there’s no easy way to get around. It’s nice, this little gathering of happy people—simple, home spun, colorful, and fun to watch.
There was a huge hound with them, and I thought it wore a wig at first, but all his fur was real.
I followed the parade until they turned into a side street where I saw tourist information stand with brochures showing various attractions. There was one for a casino within walking distance, and a ‘Clip This’ coupon offered a free gift, and cup of coffee. The flyer also says that they change money. This would work.
It turns out the Casino’s not as close as it looked on map, took maybe thirty minutes walking. I passed several banks, from Germany, Italy, and other places. None did currency exchange—no, matter, but the newly found casino is a disappointment, bleak, almost depressing. There is no one here to take my money. The red carpet entrance holds an ATM and a and an array of digital slot machines. I remember the old machines, with arms to pull. They were fun, and took longer to lose your money. It’s all going so fast now, or am I getting old . . . and slow?
It looks like I’m the only customer inside the place, not hard to understand this being afternoon, a weekday. Tourists will be on the beach, or tours.
I looked around and found another room with a bar, a woman tending, and a guy who looks like he might work here, but they don’t know anything.
“Can I change money?” I asked. “Where?”
“Downstairs.” Guy finally pointed and I went to look.
There was a four stool, coffee bar beside a doorway to a larger space. I showed the counter gal my coupon, and her face went blank, as if she’d never seen a thing like that before. She went to find someone to help and came back with another woman who said nothing as she went to work on a behind the bar computer, with my coupon I hand. After a bit of punching in numbers they left. Five minutes later the waitress reappeared with some kind of dish designed for banana a split, but it was filled of pastries with a glop of cream on top. This came with coffee and a bill. 2.5 Euros.
“I’m supposed to get for free. I had a coupon,” I complained.
“No no.” She points to my banana dish. “Free gift. Coffee is two fifty Euro. She turns to take my coupon from the register and shows me.
She is right. It’s tricky. Ad says, Coffee, €2.50. Free Gift. We argue about it for a bit. I ask where I can change my money. “It not open. Closed now,” she says. I pay her with my credit card, and leave my untouched ‘free gift’ on the bar. I need to find a bank.
There’s one I haven’t tried, along the beach, but on my way I pass the Indian restaurant that I couldn’t find last night. There is a bus stop bench nearby. I shrug my backpack off and take a pocket notebook out to make a map of how to get here later on, at night. When finished I go on my way again, for three blocks, one left turn, and one right—and then it hits me. I’m without my backpack. Horror. Panicked at the thought of this potential loss I hurry back, make one wrong turn. It seems to take forever, but at last I find the bench again. Backpack’s long gone, of course.
I’m feeling sick . . . this loss—so stupid! Pipe, tobacco, reading glasses, notebook, and a compass that I’ve had for years, now gone forever. Damn! A naive part of my brain starts to fanaticize. What if some guy looks in the notebook and sees my hotel address on the first page. He calls the hotel, hoping for a reward. How much would I pay? A hundred Euros? More? I paid a hundred dollars for that pipe three years ago in Amsterdam. Whatever.
Cash reward for finder’s not a problem I expect to need to solve.
Part 6 – The day After – Next