beautiful sunset on the top of Gran Canaria

A healthy tree grows thanks to its roots

Origin is important

When you come to the Canary Islands, you are learning that the first inhabitants of the islands where berbers and that they were living here much before the Spaniards invade the territory. Then, little by little, began an interesting history of migrations to and from the islands to and from all around the world. This history is still on work nowadays.

Today, we are here with Cristine Almeida who has a nice story which links her to these islands.

She has been on the islands for two weeks and discovering with our partner Guillermo Bernal from Gran Canaria Sightseeing and also on Tenerife with our guide Jean-Guy Le Roux. We would like to know more about that trip. Let's ask her:

Cristine Almeida with the moonrise close to the Teide & Pico Viejo volcanoes

1. Cristine, what has been your impression on first getting on these islands?

Cristina Almeida with the background of the road to Masca and the island of La Palma

"My first impressions of getting on these islands are that the people are very warm, friendly and willing to help you and that the scenery of these islands is like nothing else I have ever seen. It is incredibly beautiful with mountains, ocean and small villages that are very authentic and very very old. It is very interesting and very fun."

2. Could you tell us what you have been discovering?
(What was your favourite activity in the Canary islands?)

“I have been discovering a combination of family history and an opportunity for vacation. So I have been spending time both in libraries and diocese archives to research the history of my family that emigrated from the Canary islands (from Gran Canaria) to Cuba. I have discovered a great deal of family history which has been very interesting and much more that expected to find.

Also I came for vacation so I wanted very much to see the islands, to go around with someone who could teach me what it is I was seeing and help me understand the history, the geography, the culture (current and previous one), how humans came to be here, all of this together is really interesting history and it has been fantastic.

My favourite activity on the islands, so far, I think has been seeing the combination of the landscape of the ocean with very dramatic mountains. It is incredibly beautiful.”

Gran Canaria north coast from Agaete

3. Where are you from and what decided you to come here?

“I live in Saint Paul Minnesota which is a twin city to Minneapolis Minnesota. Minnesota is located in the northern part and central part of the United States. That is where I live. I decided to come to the Canary islands for this combination of family research and genealogy, and also for vacation, relaxation and touring.”

the Almeida coats of arms has got a gold double cross

We have been investigating a little and we saw that “Almeida” seems to come from an Arabic word meaning “the table” or “plain” and comes from Portugal where there is a village with that name close to the Spanish border (at the latitude of Madrid more or less). We also realized that there is a Spanish village named Almeida de Sayago in Zamora region (almost 60 miles north east from Portuguese Almeida).

Actually, the noble family of the Almeida has been relevant in the mainland and colonial Spanish history.

But in the XVth and XVIth century, because of the Inquisition, Almeida’s people were pursued due to their link to the Jewish religion. So they had to escape and nowadays you have Almeida spread in Europe and America.

4. But what about you? Have you found something interesting in your investigation about your ancestors?

“Yes, first I would say I came to initially understand how my great great grandfather lived here and why he may have emigrated to Cuba, which he did in the 1870’s more or less.

But then when I found this and I understood the history that many many Canarians and Spaniards were going to Latin and South America is because of the sugar crop development in the Americas and that there were more jobs and more economic opportunity. I believe that is why he went because he came from an agriculture background.

What I did not know is that I would find so much information about his father, and then his father, and then his father and continuing all the way back to the 1500’s.

Here in the islands and specifically on Gran Canaria in the area called Moya is the town that they were from.

I was not expecting this, it has been a very wonderful and emotional surprise for me and more so for my family in the United States and in Cuba. They are watching this vacation and research quest that I have been on via the Internet.”

5. You are leaving tomorrow? What are you going to do in the next hours?

“In the next hours I am going to continue touring with you.

I am currently in the small village of Masca at a lovely restaurant drinking some amazing fruit juice that is squeezed, freshly pressed and made here.

Los Gigantes are the second highest marine cliffs of Europe

We will then go on to Los Gigantes to see this.
Then back to my hotel, well I think I will spend some time by the swimming pool and then, time to pack my suitcase.”

6. And last but not least: as the canarian song says “the one who comes stays and the one who goes prays to come back”.
What is your opinion about that?

“Wow, I think that is really true. I would say when I was just two days here I already thought I need to return and bring some other family members. I came on this trip alone so I would like to come back with my husband, and I also think my siblings, nieces and nephews would really love to come so I am already planning the return.”

Well, thanks a lot Cristine to accept that interview and share with us that story. Enjoy the rest of your time on the island and have a nice trip back to where you are living. Hope to see you back again here.

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