Market day on the first Saturday of every month, and the visitors’ centre at the micro área marina ‘El Roque’ are among the top attractions in La Aldea.
There is a place in Gran Canaria tucked away in the mountains, where a whole life seems to slot in. Its seabeds are home to gigantic sea anemones and it is the site of one of the most beautiful gorgonia coral fields in Europe. Back on dry land, and right in the historic town centre every first Saturday of the month, visitors are able to purchase local avocados, bananas and oranges, products that carry the seal of the island’s rich soil and warming sun, which boast a wholesome flavour only authentic products are able to.
The town we are referring to even has a bridge that joins the present to the past, as every first Saturday of the month, coinciding with the local market, the doors are opened to small local museums which show what the old shoemaker’s workshop used to be like, as well as the tomato packaging warehouse, the old school and barbers. At La Aldea de San Nicolás, on the west coast of Gran Canaria, and the place we find ourselves in today, they have made the extraordinary look quite normal.
The arts and crafts market runs from nine o’clock in the morning until two o’clock in the afternoon along Calle Real, at the heart of the municipality’s town centre. Lined along it are around twenty stalls packed with fruits, vegetables, a wide range of arts and crafts, and even traditionally-made local beers. Alongside the wonderful atmosphere on market day are activities laid on for children. It is also well worth going inside the church, as well as going for a ramble around the many back streets that converge on the main road like cobbled streams gushing with juicy tales.
On the subject of tales, there are plenty to be found at the string of Live Museums, an initiative that is a feature of the Community Cultural Development Project in La Aldea, which provides access for visitors thanks to a programme set up by local neighbours. The clock seems to have stopped here, as we imagine what life used to be like at the carpenter’s, the chemist’s, the old ‘oil and vinegar’ shop, the farmhands’ living quarters and the water mill, plus other scenarios.
The centre offers exhaustive information on the vibrant crystal clear sea, packed full of treasures, including the great carpet of gorgonia coral plants just twenty metres under the surface of the water. This underwater area will amaze visitors with its sheer abundance of fish milling around. These include besuguitos, burritos listados, barracudas and sargos that move around the little holes and caves on the rocky seabed. Both here and on the extense underwater sandy beds it is easy to come across large local species such as chuchos, abaes, angelotes and mantelinas.
The map of the diving area looks rather like a map of a fantasy underwater kingdom. Just one look will suffice through the names such as the Garden of the Gorgonias, La Herbidera, El Rajón or La Seifera, and the description of the local depths comprising catalufas, spider crabs, moray eels, roncadores, all of them happy dwellers of the ocean, which just like the mountains, hugs tightly to La Aldea, the place where nothing seems impossible, let alone unthinkable. http://turismo2.grancanaria.com/