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Wounds won’t heal the way you

want them to, they heal the

way they need to.

Dele Olanubi

  • Writer's pictureConnard Hogan

A Few “Lesser Known and Obscure” Facts I Learned While Visiting Spain, Morocco and the Rock of Gibraltar

Bottom line: Travel is the salt and pepper of life.

Janet, my wife, and I enjoyed our most recent trip, an ocean cruise, to parts of these three countries. Perhaps, the following facts will encourage you to consider a visit to parts of our marvelous planet ... the only one we've got.

Janet and I pose during a two-seater

camel ride on Lanzarote Island.

We first flew to Las Palmas De La Gran Canaria, the largest city on the island Gran Canaria, where we boarded the Seabourn Quest.

A view of the Seabourn Quest (foreground).

1) The Canary archipelago lies about 93 miles off the northwestern coast of Africa and 840 miles from continental Europe (Spain proper). They're governed by Spain, having been"adopted"in 1493. If any blame is to be laid regarding that latter development, I'd point my finger at Columbus, if for no other reason than timing and his encouragement to "sail the seas." (He stopped there for ship repairs in 1492 on his voyage to North America.)

2) The name Canary Islands isn't derived from birds of any sort. Instead, the name comes from Berber shepherd dogs used to control sheep and/or goats. Think Spanish variation of "canine."

3) Volcanic in origin, like the Hawaiian and Galapagos Island archipelagoes, the Canary Islands offer a pristine beauty (except perhaps crowded Santa Cruz de Tenerife). However, the islands are dry like the Galapagos, which, by the way, makes them unsuitable to raise cattle per the lack of sufficient quantities of naturally growing grass.

A small view of the beautiful

volcanic terrain of Lanzarote.

4) The first European desalination plant was built on Lanzarote in 1964 to supplement the meager rain water. The desal water helps wet the whistles of residents and some two million visitors each year.

5) Camels were introduced to Lanzarote in the mid-1800's since they handle the dry conditions better than horses. But since mechanization arrived, I suspect they're only used now to grab a tourist buck or two.

Our herky-jerky two-seater

camel ride on Lanzarote.

6) With a little help, grape vines produce fruit on Lanzarote. The vines there were untouched by Phylloxera—the disease which whipped out continental European vines in the mid-late 1800's—and so weren't replaced by American vines from California.

Grape vines are protected from strong

north wind with local lava rock walls.

(They appear to have been dusted for pests.)

7) Lanzarote boasts the longest lava tube in the world at almost five miles (three-and-three-quarters above sea level and one-and-one-quarter below).

A portion of the exposed lava tube has

been turned into at tourist attraction.

And another portion is used for music

concerts due to the acoustic qualities!

8) The movie "Casablanca" WAS NOT filmed in Casablanca, but instead in Tangiers. That's Hollywood for you!

9) The term "tangerine" originally referred to oranges from Tangiers and its surrounds.

10) The Rock of Gibraltar, the southern most tip of continental Europe, is part of the United Kingdom, ceded three times to Britain by Spain. We were informed that Spain currently lusts over Gibraltar, however vestiges of Spanish colonialism persist in Morocco, an irony difficult to miss. (More on that below.)

A view of Gibraltar Rock, one "Pillar of

Hercules," from an observation deck near the tram.

We were lucky enough to see the

second pillar of Hercules in Morocco,

across the Gibraltar Strait.

11) As part of the defense of Gibraltar in 1787, Lt. General Shrapnel of the British Army, utilized exploding shells. And his name stuck!

12) Gibraltar boasts the shortest land border in the world at approx. one mile.

13) Melilla is one of two Spanish enclaves in Morocco. (The other is Ceuta.) As such it has a highly guarded border to dissuade uncontrolled immigration into the European Union.

A sunset on the Mediterranean from

our cruise ship Seabourn Quest.

Walk in beauty, fellow earthlings.


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