A Western Town in the Canaries?
Who would have thought I’d find a town in the Canaries styled on a typical Western town that one would find in the Canadian or American frontier going back to the 1800’s? Well, it exists on Gran Canaria in Playa del Ingles and a very good replica it is. When you walk the boardwalk sidewalks of this town, it feels like you’ve been thrown back to another era, and one that you’d definitely find outside the Canaries!
I know that a lot of German people love the Western lifestyle and even travel all the way to Western Canada to live it, by going horseback riding on the prairies, staying at ranches, joining cattle drives and also taking part in the Native lifestyle. Maybe the Canarians had this in mind when they created Sioux City, as there are many Germans that visit the Canaries.
As well as Germans there are many Dutch, Scandinavians, French, Belgians and people from the UK and Ireland. For them, it has become their “Caribbean”.
My Western Roots
There is something tantalizing about the Western lifestyle, perhaps there is a perception of freedom, a place that is still “wild” and for sure it has the wide, open spaces. Now just a bit about me and why I was intrigued and interested in going to Sioux City. Those aforementioned qualities certainly appealed to me when I learned, at the age of six, that my family was moving out “West” to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. After having been a big fan of The Lone Ranger (a TV program about a masked cowboy and his Native sidekick Tonto) and also a horse lover, nothing could be better. I was totally enthralled with what I was hoping to find out West, lots of horses, cowboys, dirt streets, saloons, hitching posts, wooden sidewalks and even a few showdowns to liven things up!
Some History about the Canadian West
I was quite disappointed, I found paved roads and cement sidewalks, just like there were back East. Many years later, however, I found the real “West” by joining rides across the prairies that traced the trail taken by the Boundary Commission (who established the 49th parallel between Canada and the US) and later the same trail was taken by the Northwest Mounted Police, a force that became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s force with the red tunics and the Musical Ride that is known throughout the world. This force was to establish law and order in the West.
How Could They Possibly Make a Genuine Western Town in Gran Canaria?
When I first learned of Sioux City, I have to say that I was a bit dubious. How could the Canary Islands come up with a genuine Western Town? I was very much mistaken, this town was set up in a very authentic way. Whoever did the planning must have done their homework. It was, in fact, just like a town I had been hoping for when I moved out West to Saskatchewan at the age of six! So my cowgirl hat is off to the city planners of Sioux City.
About the Visit to Sioux City
First off, there was a free shuttle bus that took you to Sioux City, it was about a 15-minute drive from Playa del Ingles. Upon arrival, you had the chance to wonder around, take in the sights, and visit the several recreated buildings, from the general store, saloon, farrier, barber shop, stables, bank, sheriff’s office and jail, church and even Boot Hill. And of course there were dirt streets and boardwalks with hitching posts for the horses.
A Horse Whisperer offered several demonstrations with his amazing horses, one beautiful horse demonstrated exquisite dressage moves, another horse, more a pony did some cute tricks. This presentation was followed by lasso techniques.
A herd of long-horned cattle stampeded up the main street, followed by a herd of horses — what excitement!
An exciting “Wild West Show” outdoors on the streets of Sioux City featured bandits riding on horseback into town to rob the local bank, followed by gun battles, the local drunk getting involved, and a feisty purse swinging local lady who thought she could bring some order to the situation. The whole event was very entertaining and just up my alley.
The entertainment came indoors to the theatre adjoining the saloon for a lasso and “flying knives” show. In the saloon who better to appear than Dolly Parton and Mexican banditos having disagreements and a shootout, of course with audience involvement.
What an exciting day in Sioux City!