Exploring Maspalomas: Canyons and Caves

Maspalomas is a beautiful place. Online you'll mostly find search results celebrating the resorts and luxury apartments in the area, but we're not going to tell you about that. What we discovered in Maspalomas is much more important and interesting to anyone wanting to truly understand the culture of the Canary Islands.

We made the voyage with our native Canarian buddy, Carlos, who drove us through the ravines at Barraco de Guayadeque. The deeper we drove, the more we learned about the aboriginals who once ruled the land.

About seven minutes into our drive down the narrow road we began seeing holes in the walls of the ravine. Some empty, others with makeshift driveways built beneath or manmade trails leading up to them. 

You see the holes in the montañas (mountains)? Those are caves where the original Canarian people used to live. When the Spanish came to conquer the island, the natives were still living in a neolithic lifestyle. Now some people are still living there, but with a more modern set-up.
— Carlos, local Canarian

And he was right! According to my research, many of the ancient Guanches (or more specifically, Canarii) lived in caves and relied on natural resources to live their lives. The caves were a perfect solution for keeping cool during the hottest hours of the day and staying warm during the wet season. Some caves were even used as storage facilities for dry crops. 

Cave Dwellers, Then and Now

Today, there are still a few occupants of these ancient caves. Most modern cave dwellers have sealed the rock surrounding their entrance to prevent any rubble or falling rocks, added modern doorway entrances to their homes, and some people even grow their own crops! Every few meters is a collective mailbox for the properties made out of caves because yes, they do pay property tax like everyone else.

What's more, some caves have been turned into restaurants like the one we stopped at for lunch called Tagoror. The interior has been smoothed and preserved to have the look and feel of the ancient caves of the Guanches, of course with mood lighting and tables now. Walking into the caves, one feels an immediate cooling sensation on the skin. It must be at least 10 degrees C cooler in there!

Back down the road there's a cute little street with several modern cave homes to explore. Some residents have chicken coops, others sell honey to tourists passing by. My questions to the people living inside these otherwise adorable homes is What about light? Doesn't it get a little bit depressing in all that false light? 

But perhaps that's just my western upbringing speaking. Who knows? In any case, living in a cave seems like a pretty cool thing to try. Having your own crops to rely on sounds pretty great too. Would you ever consider moving into a cave?