You may think that I am disappointed about the way things turn out between Colin and I. An uncomfortable exchange by a fortune telling stall and an unfulfilled promise to get in touch. But that simply isn't the case. I never really knew why I wanted to tell him, I only know that I did. To have known he was out there somewhere and to have done nothing was something I couldn't take to the grave with me. Whatever happens next and whatever comes of this, even if it's absolutely nothing, I've done my part. It's like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Sean Conerry finally finds the Holy Grail. He doesn't want to keep it, he's happy simply to have found it and to know it exists.
You may also think that Roistering ends here but, surprisingly, the weirdness just kept on coming, ending with a spectacular night time climax on a deserted, wave swept jetty by an eerily empty hotel.
Back to Wednesday night. I left Colin's stall and found Iain at Snoopy's Bar just around the corner. I told him the details of what happened as he too was keeping a journal and hoping to turn the ups and downs of our lives since the panto cow experience into a novel called 'Deflating Julio'. Actually, I think Iain's holiday journal is more accurate than mine as he had more of an objective outlook on the first half of the week, though he really was a part of this and I doubt if I could have done it without him. And he always said the most encouraging things;
"You know mate, you're a brave man."
"You think so matey?"
"Definitely. So what are we going to do next? We have the hotel until tomorrow night, do you want to stay here and maybe see Colin again or move on?"
"Let's move on..." This was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to genuinely say a line that I'd wanted to say ever since I first began having childhood fantasies about being a maverick action hero, a rootless drifter doing good and fighting for the oppressed wherever life tossed him. My jaw hardened, my eyes became all squinty, voice husky, then I spoke that immortal line;
"......Our work here is done."
Coming soon. Drug Dealers, Naked Germans, Julio the Crocodile, Half-pints of Vodka-Martini and UFOs.
Thursday April 30th
During our stay on Gran Canaria the Thursday was exceptional only for it's normality. This was the sort of day REAL TOURISTS have. We sunbathed on the beach, swam in the ocean, read our books, wrote our postcards and journals and, of course, ended the day by getting riotously drunk. We hadn't even planned to go out drinking, we fancied a game of pool and knew of an open air bar with an outdoor table. As we were there - well, we might as well have just the one. A rather nice waitress in a slinky low-cut black number served our drinks. Her name was Jessica, but she said we could simply call her 'Bird'. Iain and I were rather horrified by this and insisted that we could never be so ungentlemanly. Anyway, Jessica seemed to like us and would keep coming over for a chat when she wasn't busy - and, naturally, as she was there Iain and I used the opportunity to order more drinks. And that's how the evening progressed, eventually ending with Iain and I running out of money and Jessica slipping us extra lager when no one was looking. Once again we shambled back to the hotel, opened a bottle of cheap Spanish wine and went for a midnight swim. This, truly, was the life.
Friday May 1st
Woke up at noon, which wasn't too clever as this was the time we were supposed to check out. Too hungover to do anything in a hurry, we slowly packed, showered then checked-out, profusely apologising to the receptionist as we did so - not that she seemed at all bothered by our lateness, after all it must be a fairly common occurrence. Cured our hangovers by devouring two huge mixed grills at 'Fat Cat's Diner'. Glorious. We were now ready to face the day, but nothing could have prepared us to face .....THE GERMANS!
1) Many German men sport ill-advised facial hair, which always grows straight and thin instead of bushy and thick like the archetypal Brit tash.
2) So do many German women.
3) German's are ruthlessly efficient in everything they do, including tanning.
4) There is an inverse ratio between the size of a German's stomach and the size of his posing pouch.
5) They have a worse dress sense than Americans. (More on this topic later).
6) Germans are obsessed with sausages.
7) Germans think lederhosen are romantic.
8) No part of a German's anatomy could be considered 'private'.
9) They really do eat pumpernickel for breakfast.
10) The always come in hordes.
And of course....
"They bombed our chippy."
This is what Iain and I were confronted with upon our arrival at what was supposed to be the Gran Canarian party hotspot Playa Del Ingles (ironically translated as 'beach of the English'). We took a bus there from Puerto Rico, mistakenly got off a few stops before the town centre and therefore had to walk along the promenade with our bags until we hit the main tourist section. Our plan was simple, do as we had done a few days before and go into a bar, find a nice young waitress and ask her for advice on where to find cheap accommodation. After all, this had worked perfectly last time.
We came across a beachside plaza full of bars and souvenir emporiums and decided this was obviously the place to put Operation El Cheapo into action. But then we began noticing something strange about the bars. Instead of having solid, dependable Brit sounding names like 'The Royal Oak', 'Lineker's' 'The James Joyce' and our fave 'The Invincible British Pub' (I'm serious) all the drinking establishments had strange Germanic names like 'Mozart's', 'The Rhine land', 'Lili Marlene's' and 'Hitler's Soul Food Diner' (ok, so I made the last one up but you get the picture). And instead of being staffed by pretty young English rose types, they all seemed to have men in lederhosen serving huge tankards of lager. Suddenly, the horror of our predicament became unnervingly clear - WE WERE ENTIRELY SURROUNDED BY GERMANS! Nothing, not even sitting through three hours of Saving Private Ryan, has brought home to me more the nightmare of the 2nd World War.
In the last instalment we left our two Desperados surrounded by Germans at the ironically monikered beach resort of Playa Del Ingles becoming increasingly frustrated by their inability to find a cheap hotel.
During our wanderings we came across what seemed to be the main square. It was very quiet at this time of day but there was one suspicious looking fellow shuffling around and doing a remarkable job of looking, well, suspicious. He spotted us and made has move;
The word seemed to cause an immediate chemical reaction in Iain's brain, one which caused terminal meltdown of his judgement system and started a chain reaction that later ended in a catastrophic comedy of errors.
"Iain, this bloke seems a bit dodgy." This may seem like a ridiculous thing to say, after all he was a drug dealer, but even drug dealers have standards.
"Ok, we might come back later," said Iain and with that we continued our search for a hotel. We found one just around the corner.....
.....Later that day we were on the rooftop of the hotel, attending to our laundry.
"He's still there Jase."
"The drug dealer. I can see him down in the square."
"Well what do you think? He looks a bit seedy. Do you think he'd rip us off?"
"Nah, it'll be all right. Besides I'll check the stuff before we buy any. We'll pay him a visit before we hit the pubs."
.....Later that evening.
Iain had decided to do the talking.....
"I thought you said two."
"Well can I see it?"
The dealer then took a lump of brown matter wrapped in cellophane from his jacket pocket and waved it enticingly in front of Iain's eyes. The effect was mesmerising, within nanoseconds Iain had handed over 3000 pesetas and was now running off to the nearby churchyard in search of a private spot to inspect the merchandise. I soon caught up with him, he was already looking somewhat perturbed.
"It feels a bit soft a squidgy, and it smells [sniff], smells of nothing really. Bastard! Let's get our money back."
Needless to say, in the 30 seconds or so it had taken Iain to deduce we'd been conned, our friendly neighbourhood squidgy lump dealer had disappeared without trace, no doubt happy to have fulfilled his gullible tourist quota for the day, and Iain and I were left contemplating the mind-altering properties of putty.
"I can't believe I paid him without checking it first. What an idiot!"
"Never mind mate, it's only 1500 each. It isn't a lot. Let's go and get some drinks."
We began walking through the square and very quickly found ourselves accosted by a group of African women in native dress carrying what appeared to be bags of human hair. (It seemed as if the whole bloody square had picked up the scent of our gullibility). They waved their bags at us;
Sensing a tourist trap I did the only sensible thing. I ran. Iain was not so fortunate. Still somewhat shell-shocked from the hashish debacle he took the bait;
This was the cue for the largest of the African ladies to grab Iain's head and set to work platting a 'trendy' hair extension using strands of the 'American hair' she was carrying. I had to do something to try and prevent Iain being ripped off twice within the space of ten minutes. I had to warn him but I knew that if I stopped moving then my scalp would also be prey to the African platters. The simple answer was to run in circles around him shouting;
"Iain run away! Before it's too late."
My evasive manoeuvres did not deter one game young lass from giving chase. Armed with only two strands of hair she relentlessly stalked her quarry as I ran backwards, encircling Iain and trying to politely refuse the coiffure offers of my pursuer. The entire scene was like something from a new, updated and politically correct version of Benny Hill.
Realising that it was too late to save Iain I gave up my circling tactics and ran away from the square. There was a phone box around the corner. I telephoned my uncle to see if Colin had called. He hadn't. I returned to the square and saw that Iain was now free from the throng. Something seemed to be sprouting from the side of his head. Closer inspection revealed this to be a long strand of platted hair which was tied off with some decorative coloured beads.
"How much did that cost you?"
"1000 pesetas, but she wanted 3000."
"Well done mate. Knocking the price down for something you didn't actually want in the first place."
"What could I do? She grabbed my hair and then started chatting to me. She said they're all from Senegal. I can't believe that I've given away 4000 pesetas in the last ten minutes."
"Never mind. Now let's definitely go and get those drinks."
"How does it look?"
"A bit silly, but I think you should keep it, sort of like an albatross around your neck. The next time anyone approaches you and tries to sell you something it will be a reminder to say "no"."
A little later we were enjoying a cold beer at the Ministry of Sound. There were a couple of Germans on the table next to us. We could tell they were German because of the straightness of their moustache hair and their 1980s casual clothes. But more on the topic of German fashion later. A friendly Spanish barman brought the next round of drinks to our table. Iain reached into his pocket for some cash and along with his pesetas he also pulled out the lump of Playdough wrapped in cellophane that he'd bought earlier.
"What's that?" Asked the barman.
"We thought it was hash, but we were ripped off. Here smell." Iain handed him the lump.
"That's definitely not hash. But I can get you some good stuff."
The albatross had flown......
"Jase, this is my shot at redemption. I'll negotiate a good price and make sure it's not fake before handing over any more money. I know I can get it right this time. When the barman comes back for the next round I'll ask him if he can get us some gear."
"Well, if you're sure you know what your doing."
"Trust me mate, this time I won't get ripped off."
Iain arranged a meeting in the gents toilet to sample the goods. He came back looking very pleased with himself.
"I did it mate! It's real and it was only 1000 pesetas. I feel better now - I've redeemed myself."
"Well done Kiddo. We'll go and smoke some on the sand dunes later."
The evening progressed as many of our evenings do. We drank, smoked cigarettes, discussed life, the universe, why James Bond is so rubbish now. We became quite chummy with David, the barman who'd sorted our drugs. For some reason we were given party bags full of goodies so we both ended up wearing silly paper hats. The evening was going splendidly well, then Iain realised that his lighter had run out.
"Wait there mate, I'll just go and buy some matches."
Finally Iain returned.
"Nowhere's open. I've been all over trying to find somewhere that sells matches or lighters. What are we going to do? We've got this gear and no means of creating fire."
"What about the stove in our room?"
"I've got it. We're in a busy bar. I'll do a reccy and try to steal a lighter."
It seemed so simple at the time. Walk casually to the toilets, artfully pocketing someone's lighter on the way. The trouble was no one had left their lighter in an easily pinchable position. I returned to our table feeling a little deflated.
"No luck. I just couldn't get a clean shot at a lighter."
"I'll have a go then."
Iain returned equally empty handed. We both tried a few more times but eventually had to concede defeat. It seemed so cruel to be thwarted at the final hurdle, like being given a stash of Playboy magazines then having your hands tied behind your back.
"We must have fire!" I was on a mission now. "I'll ask David."
It worked. David lent me his lighter. I was sure he wouldn't mind if we didn't return it until tomorrow. We'd finally achieved our objective and everything was now in place for a relaxing star gazing session on the dunes. Without further ado we left the bar and headed for our hotel.
We were about halfway up the escalator leading to the main plaza when Iain suddenly reached for his shirt pocket and shouted "Fuck!"
"What is it?"
"I've left my packet of fags on the table."
"So, what's the big deal?"
"The drugs are inside." With that Iain bolted back down the escalator a desperate bid to retrieve his cigarette packet. A minute or so later he was coming back up the escalator, frantically trying to charm a very satisfied looking young girl into parting with the packet of Marlborough Lights she was holding. For once, Iain's charm seemed to have no effect. In fact the whole thing ended with the girl slapping Iain across the face then scrunching up the cigarette packet and tossing it contemptuously to the floor. Iain quickly examined it's contents.
"She'd already taken the stuff."
Poor Iain. He looked so dejected that I thought he was about to cry. Let's face it, this had not been his best night. He'd managed to spend 5000 pesetas of our joint holiday funds and all he had to show for it was a hippy hair extension.
I returned the lighter to David. There was no point in keeping it now.
"Enjoy the smoke," he said as I was leaving. Little did he know that someone else was going to be enjoying it on our behalf.
We returned to our hotel. Iain's mood had progressed beyond demoralisation and he was now in the throws of a full on paddy - stomping about, bashing pans around in the kitchen and cursing himself for the entire evening.
"Calm down mate. Let's just put this one down to experience. Just say "I'm a great big banana". What are yer?"
"A great big banana."
"Good. Let's get some sleep."
"Tomorrow night I'll get it right. I will redeem myself."
We actually managed to get up in time for the hotel breakfast, Iain was still going over the previous night and planning his big comeback deal. It was more than just a drug thing now - pride was at stake. Sauntering into the dining hall we were immediately struck by the strange conspiracy of style which seemed to pervade the entire room. Then it became all too clear, we were the only two diners who weren't German.
Germans have a bizarre dress sense. In many ways they dress very similarly to Americans but with a hint of European perversity. Uptight American casual meets 80s porn. For example, Germans will, without exception, tuck their shirts or T-shirts into denims and short trousers (calling them 'shorts' does not accurately reflect the formality with which they are worn) and will often complete the 'casual outdoor look' with a designer leather belt. It simply does not work. Neither do shellsuits with gold jewellery, leather trousers without a motorbike, shoulder pads with anything. And the hair! There were so many mullets in that dining room that I could have been attending a convention of 'Guys That Girls Fought Over on the Jerry Springer Show'. And of course, I've already said as much as I'm prepared to say on the subject of the Aryan Ubertash. Compared to our fellow diners Iain and I looked positively grungy (especially Iain with his hair extension). I so desperately wanted to run around the room ruffling hair, and untucking shirts whilst shouting "free yourselves."
Breakfast was good though, despite the substitution of real sausages for Frankfurters and the inexplicable presence of pumpernickel on the buffet table.
It was over breakfast that Iain finalised the details of his masterplan;
"Right. You keep all the money from now on. I'll arrange to buy some more gear from David. Once I've checked it out you give me 1000 pesetas to buy it. As soon I've I get the stuff I'll give it to you for safekeeping. If it all goes according to plan I'll feel as if I've redeemed myself."
"Don't worry mate. You can do it. Eye of the tiger."
"Cheers Jase. Don't worry. This time I'm prepared."
Shortly after breakfast we headed for the beach. Whilst buying our water provisions at the gift shop next to the hotel Iain and I both noticed a life-sized inflatable crocodile. Needless to say, we felt strangely intoxicated by its primordial allure. We knew we'd be back.....
Have you ever noticed that 'dune' is an anagram of 'nude'?
Ah, the sand dunes of Maspalamas. They are truly beautiful. Striding manfully across such soft, curvaceous peaks it's impossible not to imagine yourself as Peter O'Toole in Lawrence of Arabia. Climb to the top and your feet sink deeply into the warm sands as you make your ascent. Once you've reached the summit, roll down the other side - pure, unadulterated, childlike joy. The winds constantly blow the fine sands around so that if you spend any length of time laying on the dunes you quickly become submerged in a soft, golden sea.
After a couple of hours on the dunes Iain and I were both looking like the literal versions of Mr. Sandman. We needed to head for the water before we became completely mummified.
The beach was about half a mile away and we'd taken the unusual route of approaching it via the dunes. As we got closer Iain noticed something strange.
"That blokes in the nip!"
"Over to the right."
"Bloody hell! He is. He's in the nip!"
About fifty yards or so to our right stood an old, fat, bronzed naked man. Undeterred we ventured forth. It was then that we began to notice the round Hobbit holes in the sand - small bunkers which all contained old, fat, bronzed naked people. As we drew closer to the waters edge it became clear that everyone, except ourselves, was old, fat, bronzed, naked AND GERMAN! Yes Iain and I had inadvertently stumbled onto a German nudist beach. A vista of efficiently tanned flabby buttocks, and hundreds of pendulous breasts, which had long since given up the fight against gravity, released from their industrial-strength containment bras.
I've never been able to decide whether the popularity of naturism amongst Germans can be attributed to good old-fashioned exhibitionism or ruthless efficiency. They certainly go all out to maximise their tanning performance, even to the extent of shaving off their pubic hair. I know that being comfortable with your body is a good thing, and the Germans should be applauded for their openness, but there was something about being there that was inherently scary. Yet we decided to stay for a while, in order to observe this peculiar cultural phenomenon. We even debated whether or not to take our clothes off too but decided that our milky white British bottoms which rarely get to see the light of day simply couldn't compete with the dark brown buttocks of our German counterparts. Pretty soon we had about as much as we could take. We headed back to the hotel - we had a crocodile to rescue.....
Anyone who's visited our house since the Gran Canaria trip will realise that the crocodile we liberated from the gift shop is Julio, who now permanently resides in our bathroom. It took us ages to inflate him, but he was worth it. We spent the rest of the afternoon indulging in Tarzanesque crocodile wrestling antics in our hotel room. Julio's a feisty bugger and he soon wore us down, a siesta was required then it was off to the Ministry of Sound where Iain was hoping to find redemption......
We'd bought matches and a lighter in advance, and left them in our hotel room for safekeeping. Iain was the negotiator. I was the banker. The plan was a simple one, but experience told us that things could go wrong. We returned to the same bar, sat at the same table and were approached by the same barman. It was like Groundhog Day with Iain as Bill Murray, forced to live the same night over and over again until he gets it right. David was pleased to see that we'd returned.
"Hey guys. How yah doing? Good stuff eh?"
The truth was not an option.
"Yeh, great! Really good."
Then Iain put Operation Albatross into effect;
"Can we get some more?"
"How much do you want?"
"The same as last night?"
"No problemo amigo." Then he spotted someone by the entrance. "Hey that guy over there, he's the dealer. If you ever want something and I'm not around just ask him. Hasta luego."
There were a number of men stood by the entrance, but Iain and I instantly knew which one he was talking about - the one that looked exactly like Al Pacino in Scarface. HOO AAR. This guy had obviously watched too many episodes of Miami Vice. Gelled, slicked back hair, white polo neck, black double-breasted jacket with shoulder pads, baggy black pleated slacks, pointed patent leather shoes and a thick gold chain around his neck. He may as well have had a big neon sign on his head saying "Buy Your Drugs Here." I had never seen such a living embodiment of a movie stereotype. We were both truly in awe of his style.
A little later I paid a visit to the toilet. I was still quite early and the bar was relatively empty. As I walked into the Gents I noticed that Scarface was up to something in the corner. It seemed he was replacing the bottom tile on the far wall. I quickly ducked out of sight into one of the cubicles. I was very excited because I thought I may have stumbled across the drug dealer's secret store. As soon as the coast was clear (and I'd been about my business) I dashed back to Iain.
"Guess what mate! I think I've found out where Scarface keeps either his drugs or money. There's a loose tile in the far corner by the urinals. I saw him replacing it as I went in. Imagine, stealing from a drug dealer. Now that's what I call adventure."
It was a crazy idea, but hey, we're crazy guys. There could have been huge roll of cash behind that tile and all we had to do was take a quick look without anyone seeing us. OK, so technically it would have been theft but if there was any money there, it certainly wasn't earmarked for the local orphanage. Moreover, we were seduced by the opportunity to briefly lick the sweaty underbelly of Playa Del Ingles. We wanted a taste of the dark side. I decided to go back and take another look.
I returned empty handed;
"I managed to move the tile a bit with my foot, and there's definitely a hole in the wall behind it, but someone came in so I kicked it back into place and left."
"Let me have a go mate, I've got an idea."
A few minutes later Iain returned;
"It's empty mate. I dropped some change on the floor by the tile, so if anyone walked in I could pretend to be picking it up. I stuck my hand in an felt around but there was nothing there."
"Oh well, at least we tried. It was in the spirit of our holiday that we had a go."
Later in the evening David breezed past and casually dropped a lump of hash onto our table. The next time he breezed past we casually dropped 1000 pesetas on to his tray. Operation Albatross was going smoothly, all we had to do now was make sure we didn't lose the stuff so Iain gave it to me for safekeeping.
We began to notice the David was casually breezing past our table quite a lot. Not just to serve us drinks or supply us was illegal substances but to chat. An Irish girl that we'd been talking to earlier came over to fill us in.
"Dave's bi'. He swings both ways," she turned to me "and he fancies you."
"Yeh, can't you tell?"
I looked over to where David was standing, he gave me a wave then proceeded to stick out his tongue and roll it around in the manner of Gene Simmons from Kiss.
"See. What did I tell you? Do you go for men?"
"Well, erm, no offence to David but no."
"Shame." And with that she went back to touting for customers outside the bar.
"Why does this always happen to you mate?" Asked Iain.
"I dunno. It's so unfair. I keep getting approached by men but never any women. What is it about me? Am I excessively camp or something. Sometimes I wish I was gay because then I'd be having a ball instead of living like a bloody monk."
"I don't know mate. I don't understand it."
"Perhaps we should go and ponder it beneath the stars."
"Let's do it."
We thanked David for all his help and headed back for the hotel, drugs still safely intact. Iain rolled a couple of joints then we set off on the long walk to the dunes. Pretty soon we were relaxing in a bed of soft sand, reaping the rewards of Operation Albatross and gazing wistfully at the night sky. Little did we know, it may well have been gazing back.....
Sunday May 3rd
It was time to move on. Iain had broken free of his Groundhog Deal cycle and there's only so much pumpernickel a person can take. We thought it would be interesting to get away from the resort towns and spend our last day in one of the older Spanish cities. We consulted the guide books and maps down in the gift shop. Telde wasn't far, it was an old Spanish municipality with colonial style architecture (not row upon row of prefabricated hotels and time-share apartments) and the second largest city in Gran Canaria. It sounded ideal.
Deflating Julio took some time but we just managed to make the deadline for checking out and were soon on a bus heading north to Telde. The driver was kind enough to tell us when we reached "el centro" and we hopped off with a spring in our step, eager to sample the real Gran Canaria. About an hour later the spring had gone from our steps, in fact our legs felt as if they might never spring again. We'd been walking aimlessly for miles carrying our, by now, very heavy bags (Julio's no featherweight) in search of a hotel. Telde was indeed old, quaint, colonial, pretty and quiet. Very quiet. Very very quiet. Where the fuck was everybody? Of course, it was a Sunday afternoon, everyone was either attending church or having a siesta. We were beginning to think we were finally done for when a lone Spaniard approached us and asked if we needed any help.
"We can't find a hotel. We've been looking for ages."
"You won't find a hotel here. This is a Spanish town not a tourist resort."
"We know. That's why we came."
"Well, there is one place, but it's quite far from here."
"Can we walk there?"
"You could, but you'd be better taking a taxi." (Don't you just hate it when someone tells you to take a taxi and you have no money?)
"We'll walk. Can you give us directions?"
Just then a car came around the corner. The man turned and flagged it down.
"You're in luck, this is my father," the old gentleman driving the car smiled warmly, "and this is my son."
"Ola" said the young boy.
"Jump in. We'll take you to the hotel."
So there we were, sharing a car with three generations of the same family on our way to a hotel which increasingly appeared to be situated in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it turned out to be situated on the edge of nowhere, a huge cliff to be precise and the effect was breathtaking.
The Hotel Bar el Mar......
Poised strikingly on the eastern cliffs of Gran Canaria the Hotel Bar el Mar was a majestic sight. A huge white concrete edifice with art-deco pretensions set against an impressive rocky backdrop. This gave it an eerily gothic look, the sort of hotel where you'd find European Countess Vampires living a reclusive existence with their nubile young lesbian love slaves. It was fantastic. We checked in immediately.
It soon became obvious that Iain and I were the only people staying at the hotel. Had we perhaps stumbled across the Spanish version of the Overlook hotel From The Shining? Would the hotel caretaker take an axe to our door shouting "here's Jose!"? No, we'd probably just found ourselves staying at one of Gran Canaria's pre-tourist boom relics. A survivor from the halcyon days before flip-flops, egg and chips, satellite tv sports, raves, happy hours, bingo, jet-skis, karaoke, time shares, inflatable crocodiles, fat naked Germans, pale drunken Brits. It was all rather civilised. If James Bond came to Gran Canaria he'd stay here. We had a beautiful room in a bewitching hotel - we were going to spend our last night in style.
There was a stone jetty by the hotel. It didn't protrude directly out into the sea but at a sideways angle parallel to the cliffs so that the waves crashed against the sea-facing edge and a calm tidal pool formed behind. We stood there, hypnotised by the violent, tumultuous beauty of the fierce sea. The waves tossed themselves with suicidal intent against the barricade of rocks defending the jetty, creating tall plumes of white spray. It was like being in a scene from a 19th Century gothic novel - the eerie, deserted lodgings, the raging tempestuous ocean, the desolate windswept locations. We decided to return to the jetty that night with the remainder of our hashish to really soak up the atmosphere.
We left the jetty and hotel in search of food and local culture. The receptionist had told us in which direction we might find civilisation and we eventually came across a small beachside area of shops, bars and restaurants. One place seemed particularly popular with the locals and fortunately for us (as we'd now run out of money) it displayed the VISA sign in the window. Our seafood paella was gorgeous and the beer so cheap that instead of having just the one we decided to stick around and have another six each. We were two very happy amigos by the time we left - thankful that we live in a world in which credit is so recklessly dispensed.
We returned to the hotel and perched ourselves by the cocktail bar. There was something undeniably eerie about being the only two people there. Once again we were reminded of the Overlook Hotel and half expected the bar to suddenly fill with the spectral apparitions of deceased patrons. Eventually, the barman arrived (he was probably expecting a night of uninterrupted tv) and we were relieved to find that he bore no resemblance to Jack Nicholson. Inspired by the elegance and sophistication of our surroundings we asked for two Vodka Martinis. Obviously the barman did not what to spend the entire evening attending to a pair of drunken James Bond wannabes so he took two large glasses and filled them half with vodka, half with Martini then threw in a slice of orange as an olive substitute thus allowing him to return to whatever he was doing secure in the knowledge that no mortal could ask for a second drink.
"There's half a pint of pure spirits in that glass," said Iain "we'll never make it."
"Yes we will mate."
And we did.
It was then time to make our planned return to the jetty and watch the waves breaking against the rocks. It was a spectacular night-time scene, enhanced by the heightened state of perception we'd achieved by smoking the last of our hashish. Unfortunately the fact that we were both drunk and stoned has led many people to question our certainty of what we saw next.....
I was looking out to sea, admiring the astronomical wonders of the sky at night when I spotted what, at first, I believed to be a shooting star.
"Iain! Over there. I've just seen a shooting star." I was left speechless by what happened next, "It was beautif...uughhhhhh!"
"Uuughhhhhhh!" So too was Iain.
"You saw it too mate? You saw it?" I asked, unable to contain my excitement.
"Yeh! What was it?"
"I don't know, but shooting stars don't go up then turn and fly off into space."
We were both in a state of extreme giddiness bordering on euphoria. We quickly analysed every rational explanation for what we had just seen. Meteorites don't suddenly turn and travel back along their original flight path. Nothing within the boundaries of human technology can travel or turn at such a high speed. It was too far out to sea and there wasn't enough cloud cover for it to be a spotlight. Also, unlike a spotlight, it had a distinct tail signifying that energy was being emitted.
There was only one possible explanation.
We threw our arms in the air, embraced each other and began dancing with joy. And together we cried;
"We've seen a UFO!"
I can't tell you how if feels to suddenly be aware the we are not alone in the universe. It's as if a whole galaxy of possibilities has opened up before you. Imagine being able to travel through hyperspace to strange new worlds orbiting distant stars. Star Trek had just come one giant step closer to reality and I'd taken one gianter step closer to becoming a total geek.
And another thing about seeing a UFO - it's really, really cool.
What a climax to our adventure this had been. Iain and I had both wanted to see a UFO since childhood and we'd been granted the privilege on our last night in Gran Canaria. It was the perfect end to an amazing week (well actually alien abduction would have been better but maybe that's asking too much). Of course, many people have poured scorn on our close encounter and they will often attempt to defend their scepticism by pointing out that on the night of the sighting we'd drunk seven bottles of beer and half a pint of pure spirits each, and smoked a joint. However, this cannot explain the fact that we both saw exactly the same thing and were able to describe the event to each other in lucid detail.
They're out there - and they know we're here. One can only hope, to save us from future intergalactic embarrassment, that they didn't take Iain and I to be representative of the human race.
The next day, still buzzing from the previous night's encounter, we went a bit mad in the hotel restaurant and charged a gourmet meal with fine wine to my credit card. The head chef (a very cool gentleman with a mobile phone in one hand and a blowtorch in the other) even came over to personally flambé our dessert. We were going out in style.
The bus to the airport dropped us off at exactly the same spot where one week previously we'd stood wondering which bus would take us to Puerto Rico and what the hell we would do when we got there. A feeling of déjá vu soon turned to one of dejection as I thought of returning to life in London.
As the plane left the runway I wondered - would I ever have cause to return?
So, there it is. Roistering With Intent. An entirely factual account of what must be one of the weirdest holidays in Gran Canaria's history. We'd found my father, we'd found new depths to our friendship, and we'd also found that the more you try and make sense of life, the more confusing it seems.
"It's just a bunch of stuff that happens." But what stuff this had been!