Gran Canaria, Las Palmas - Email #9

Dear everyone,

Thanks to those who wrote reassuring me that we should not edit the food reviews and photos. My Uncle Tom, who used to be in the fishing industry, wrote with some useful information on hake or, as the Spanish say, merluza. 

"hake is now called Pacific Whiting on the West Coast.  It formerly was fished by foreign fleets from Russia, China, Korea.  Now they are excluded from the 200 mile zone.  The name change was thought to make it more appealing to market in US.  This fish is very tender, but must be handled with chipped ice water as enzymes will deteriorate the flesh if it is allowed to warm."

I can vouch for the melting tenderness. Great stuff. It's not the most attractive fish when live and whole, although, like most of us, it would probably prefer to be alive and unattractive than the alternative. Sorry, it's very early in the morning.

Flew from Barcelona to Las Palmas Airport and took a bus into the city; our hotel, the very comfortable Parque, was close by. Walked to the museum, Contemporanea Atlantico Arte Moderna or CAAM, which is in a lovely old part of the city. The Canary Islanders don't quite look Spanish to me, on the whole, and their accent is different. I kept thinking they were Portuguese. The original Canary Islanders were more like Berbers. The architecture in the old part of town looks somewhat like Colonial Mexican with a touch of North Africa.

We are always in a state of excitement when exploring a new area or city. This is a new island and a new part of the world.

Looking down the street at the exterior of CAAM. The red building, 2 cream colored buildings and I think the white building on the right-hand side of the street are all CAAM.

And a little further down the street. They are about 2 blocks from the ocean.

Looking up the street, the old Cathedral.

Around the corner, the Columbus House Museum. I don't believe Columbus ever lived here, or not for any length of time. He did provision his ships in the Canaries.

And this is the amazing inside of the museum. So the beautiful old colonial exterior, and when you enter, this is what you see. The show looks stunning in this setting. Magnolia was very happy to be a part of it.

Faisal's piece Adeve, printed at Magnolia, carbon black pigment on two very long panels of backlit film. Omar, Faisal and some BBC journalists.

All very well, but what, you may ask, are you doing at CAAM in Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands? We were introduced to Faisal Abdul-Allah and Barbaro Martinez-Ruiz by Enrique Chagoya. Barbaro teaches at Stanford, along with Enrique, and Faisal was a guest professor. Barbaro and Faisal worked with us to print a few large-scale images for an exhibition at Stanford of Faisal's work. During the course of our work together, we became good friends. The show at Stanford later grew into an exhibition at CAAM. The timing was right, we had never been to the Canary Islands, Barbaro told us the museum was amazing, Magnolia had worked on a lot of the show, and so we came.

Era and Faisal - note: no brown coat. It is almost warm here, while the rest of Europe is freezing.

Inspecting an installed tapestry; Barbaro in foreground.

Faisal, Barbaro and Omar, the Director of CAAM. Barbaro and Omar grew up together in Cuba.

The patio in the staff area at CAAM. What wouldn't we give to have such a place for our staff at Magnolia.

Faisal and Barbaro's sister, Marilu (sp?), who is an artist living in Barcelona. They give a thumbs up to the food. Squash or pumpkin soup in front of Marilu.

I haven't so far mentioned the problems we were having with our flights on this trip. We had 3 different flights either cancel or change on us. A joint flight operated by Iberia and Vueling from Seville to Las Palmas was moved up one day. Fortunately, they gave us more than a week's notice, so we were able to change hotel reservations, other travel, etc. while on our trip with sometimes spotty internet connections.

When we arrived in Seville and met up with Salustiano, he told us that SpanAir that day, and quite suddenly, had gone bankrupt and ceased operations. They were not operating, not refunding any money, and not paying their staff their wages. We were scheduled to fly out of the Canary Islands to Barcelona on SpanAir. When we searched for replacement tickets, they were almost impossible to find. We almost thought we would have to cancel the Canary Islands, but ended up booking with the dreaded Ryanair at great expense (as it was last minute). The problem was they had no flights available on the day we wanted, Saturday, and we had to fly out on Friday afternoon, right before Faisal's opening. We also paid an exorbitant price to check our little carry-on (about $50), as TryingAir (Ryanair) charged Marilu (above) an extra 120 British pounds (about $190) for her carry-on. They charge you more if you don't pay for it on-line, and they are so friggin arbitrary. On our flight many people had oversized carry-ons, but on some flights the people in charge are Nazis and overcharge you for everything. Actually, the TryinAir staff in the Canary Islands were pleasant and seemed like normal people.

Finally, and I'm now writing from the perspective of the present, because we flew home last night and are only pretending to be in the Canaries in this blog, we woke up yesterday morning to an email from British Air informing us that our flight from Barcelona to London had been cancelled. We later found out that this was probably due to heavy snow in London and elsewhere. The air traffic controllers had ordered that half the flights in and out of Heathrow should be cancelled. We scrambled, emailing, calling England, and were able to secure and make an earlier flight, which meant we left our Barcelona apartment immediately and sooner than planned.

Fortunately, and so far as usual, we missed most of the horrible weather that the rest of Europe was experiencing. We hadn't even realized there was a problem. The canals in Venice were/maybe are in danger of freezing. Our friend, Elisabetta Wholey, sent us this photo of her place in Umbria.


Era and Don