It's the 21st of Feb today, which means, in five days I will have been here for one entire month. I've only spent that long in two other places so far, the last La Coruna, and the one before that, Amsterdam. So far, Amsterdam/Holland was the most interesting place to be stuck. No offence to Spain, but I haven't exactly been stuck in Barcelona or Madrid, which I think would both be pretty interesting places to spend a month. In La Coruna or Las Palmas, there is only so much one can do without a penny. I've done all the exploring I can, I've done all the park bench sitting you could ever want to, and I've sampled all the 50cent ice creams you can buy. Lying in my bunk, I remembered back to my brief encounter with Montreal, back in 2004. I travelled up from New York City, and found myself in a city I couldn't speak the language, wondering how I got there. Which is a lot of what I do these days... But I was so excited at the time, it felt like the train had gone across the Atlantic, and I really was in Europe. After eating a croissant and finding my Hostel, I explored the city like I always do: By walking and getting myself lost, and avoiding anywhere that might have tourists. As I did so, I learnt about the Quebecois, or more specifically, the strong undercurrent of locals who wanted to separate from Canada and become and independent country. I searched out these revolutionaries, but since all I could say in French was "Hello, Good Night, and I can't speak French", my investigations were severely hindered. Not to give up, I visited a small record store, asking for music on the subject, and bought a hip-hop CD which was supposed to be all about the fight. Of course, I couldn't understand a word, but it had a nice beat track, and we all know how stupidly hip it is to be listening to French lyrics you can't understand - It's some weird anglo saxon thing. Anyway, I know, you're wondering where the hell this can be going...
There I am, hobbling about my boat (shuffling around with my head down, because there is no standing headroom), when wondered if there might be an undercurrent of people wanting independence from Spain, here in the Canaries. I mean, look at the map - The Canaries are nowhere near Spain, and I can't really imagine there is much economic importance for either country. Or maybe mainland Spain has a hankering for Canarian bananas, i don't know. The Canaries surely make all their money from German tourists, requiring little if any handouts from the mainland.
So I went hunting for Canarian Revolutionaries. I started my survey with the people I had met, and they laughed at me. So i went to the marina office, and asked the marina guy. Now he fancies me, and thinks I have nice eyes. But, he does think the Canaries should be independent. "Great"! I thought, there is the possibility for leading a revolt! I had decided I would write up a manifesto on small vessel naval warfare, and test it out here in Gran Canaria. Since my gift to the Canaries would be to lead the naval arm of the fight for independence from Spain, I thought I would ask for naming rights of the islands. I think it's a fair trade for my skills in sea based fighting. Other decisions will include the official language becoming a cross between Esperanto and Gomerian mountain whistling. I've been practicing my Gomerian whistling, and I can now understand myself. I'm not sure if it's just me whistling, and then talking to myself, but it certainly feels like I've mastered the craft. If you think I'm just pulling your leg about the whistling thing, do your research. As for Esperanto, I've had a long standing love of this curious language, because it was such a brilliant but failed idea. All those old text books will be on eBay somewhere, so changing languages for the people should be relatively cheap. We will use all profits from the sale of German sausage on the islands to fund the new linguistic program.
Any good navy revolt must also involve an overland mission. This is to rustle the feathers of my overland detractors, and also to give Constellation an opportunity to be the first boat in history to do a Sea to Summit in honour of Timothy Macartney Snape. Remember, the tallest mountain in Spain, is on the Canarian island of Tenerife.
Here is the proposal for the order in which I will conquer the islands, and also my renaming scheme. I think some of you will recognise my naming format. As you can see, I had some trouble with New ACT. Back home in Australia, we had a similar problem with the original ACT... In this case, New New South Wales (more on that later) and New Victoria were fighting over who would be the capital. I made the executive decision to just build another island in the middle. In the design of New ACT, you can see that the island is a perfect sphere. All roads are also circular, and lead nowhere; it is a purpose built island for Government officials, and has no laws, a large red light district and is also the place where the New Years fireworks are launched from, for all the islands to see.
I made New Queensland the smallest, in hopes that it will curb the breeding of any possible political leaders. New Western Canaria is just far away off in the corner, New Northern Territory, is, well, North, and New South Canaria (which erm, isn't south...) is quite large, because they will be the main grape growing producer, making crisp white wines, since it is the perfect climate for such beverages. New New South Wales was a bit of a naming issue, and I spent a lot of time thinking about it. In the end, I decided that it would be local law to abbreviate it as New² South Wales. New Victoria is central, easy to get to, and generally the best island of the set. What about New Tasmania you ask? Well, it's the island everyone always forgets...
As the captain of HMS Constellation, I've also had to consider who may strike out against the revolt. I've done a lot of research, and believe the authorities of differing ranks, are so caught up in their own policing, that I should be relatively safe. I'm quite convinced that there are so many minor authorities (Port Police, Local Police, Guardia Civil, Minor Military Units etc) that they will all be looking after their own concerns, unable to comprehend the goings on of the revolution. Any thoughts of policing outside of the pre-described arena would probably result in some kind of bureaucratic hernia, considering the Spanish have a deep love of red tape.
At this stage, I only seem to have piqued the interest of the marina guy, and I think he has other things on his mind. But I will keep recruiting, searching and planning, unless of course the damn package I've been waiting for suddenly arrives. If that's the case, I'm really just going to have to leave in a hurry. I'll have a lot of time to hone my skills for the Australian War of Independence on this trip, so not all will be lost.
My apologies to the people of the Canaries, and also to non-Australians who probably don't get this post at all. It's really just to articulate how the mind wonders when stuck in warm climates, alone, with little to do. I get a ton of email saying "oh you're living the dream", or "you're so lucky" etc etc. Which in some cases is right, but my god, I promise you it's not all amazing. Some days I want just go into work, see a movie, see my long lost friends, drink overpriced coffee, or be a vegetable on a comfortable couch somewhere. I would never trade this for the world, but it's certainly not easy at times, and it definitely is not an incredible adventure every day.
The Germans have a saying, that goes something like "may you always have a handspan of water under your keel", which basically means don't ground your boat. My saying is a derivative of the German one, and goes "may there always be at least six knots flowing beneath your keel". I think for someone who has money, spending a lot of time in port, is an enjoyable thing. You can go do things, like see movies, buy books, spend loads of time sampling restaurants, go shopping etc. But for me, its becoming more and more about the sailing, than the landfall. I think back and almost regret (but not enough to actually really regret anything at all) doing all that damn coastal hopping. I had my reasons, but I'm beginning to think my route should have been: Amsterdam->Brest->La Coruna->Lisbon->Canaries. I don't have the cash to be a tourist, I only have just enough to keep going... Funnily enough, it's actually cheaper for me to be making progress, which is what I want to be doing anyway - I'm going to make a concerted effort from now on, to spend more time offshore, making heavy miles. Thankfully I have the Atlantic in front of me!
(Happy Birthday Celeste).