Lanzarote : Monday 29th October – Wednesday 6thNovember 2012
We had a really pleasant stay at Puerto Calera. The marina is purpose built and there is a 5 star hotel and a holiday resort as well, but nicely designed. There are quite a few shops with not only souvenirs but also Paseo de la Moda where you can get brands like Hugo Boss, Helly Hansen etc. Lots of restaurants and bars and we sampled a few.
One night we had really good Mexican, another a local prate del dia and Halloween we went to the Irish bar, complete with Guiness and waitresses in ghoulish dress!
Beach at Puerto del Carmen
There is a rather nice craft market on Tuesdays and Fridays with the usual T shirts and caps but also more interesting clothes and jewellery, some made with lava stone and Olivine which is found on the island.
On Wednesday evening there was a talk by Colin Speedie of the Wise Foundation on identifying cetaceans which was very interesting. He is just sailing in the area and offered to do the talk. I also got a nice little booklet from him. Afterwards a few of us were given a tour of the whale museum which is in the marina. When we had arrived, I was very disappointed to find it had closed due to lack of funding, so this was great. The curator asked us to be careful where we stood as there are many whale bones on the floor waiting to be displayed or stored. They have the largest collection of whale bones in Europe and we got to hold the skull of a beaked whale. Very heavy – the forehead is solid bone and used in their sonar. I do hope they manage to reopen. It is really interesting how many are found around the Canaries. All the skeletons are from found whales, none are hunted.
We shared a car for two days with Dick and Moira on Equinox so got to see a good bit of the island. The most impressive part was Timanfaya Volcano Park. The volcano erupted for six years from 1760 and covered about ¼ of the island in lava. The area is protected so you drive in to a visitor centre and then are driven around in a bus, which unfortunately does not let you out, so all my photos had to be taken through the window.
The scenery is spectacular - volcano cones, solid lava rivers, ash and debris spewed out by the volcano combine to create an alien landscape that is awe inspiring. You feel as though you are in some science fiction film set. At the visitor centre they can cook your lunch on the heat coming up from the volcano and there are various vents where they pour water which immediately explodes into steam, or drop dry bushes which ignite almost at once. In this demonstration area the ground is warm, even hot in places. All over the island are volcanic areas so we did get to walk on the lava and see it up close. One of the most amazing places I have been.
The farms use the porous lava stone as a mulch and plant each plant in its own hollow and build a windbreak of stone around it. We saw mostly grape vines and fig trees grown this way but all the farms had the walls around the crops. The plants survive on dew and the tiny bit of rain the island normally has, although we had at least a small shower nearly every day. They also use drip irrigation now. It is so dry that even the prickly pear farms used the same system.
|Vinyards - Lanzarote style|
The islands other main influence is an artist Ceasar Manrique, who was born there. He saw the effects of mass tourism on the other Canary Islands and used his influence to put in place some strict rules. No building may be more than 5 stories high, they all have to be white and doors and windows green or brown, or at the sea they can be blue! In some ways it is quite nice because the ground almost everywhere is black so makes a nice contrast, but can be quite blinding in the sun and a bit boring at times.
Entrance to Manriques house
|Mural at Manriques|
He also seems to have designed most visitor attractions and had a hand in the restoration of many buildings. Almost every roundabout has a sculpture and most of them are Manriques.
We went to his house which is beautifully designed. It is on a lava flow and to make the lower floor he joined up huge lava bubbles to create rooms. His work is displayed throughout – a very versatile artist.
In The Garden
Manrique also designed a cactus garden using an old quarry – quite a strange place. There were not as many varieties as I had expected and could only find one that was indigenous only to Lanzarote and a few more to Lanzarote and Fuertaventura. There were a few from South Africa, which were nice to see but most were from Mexico.
|Prickly pear farm|
The majority were different prickly pears – I had no idea there were so many. The cactus garden is appropriately in the prickly pear farming area – they use them to breed cochineal beetles. Aloes are also farmed and you can buy aloe vera products everywhere.
A Manrique in the cactus garden
Terraced gardens - Puerto del Carmen
The greener north
Tequise - The old capital
A lazy afternoon!
Rigger up the mast
There is a good sailmaker here and he did a good job on our stakpak and an engineering works who drilled out the pin on the cheek block for the genoa so that Richard could fit the new sheave.
Gradually all the Quinta do Lorde crowd had left, some to different islands and some off to join the ARC so our last two days we were all alone! Apart from all the other boats! We decided to go for a swim one day and found a nice rocky beach with a small rock built pier with a ladder into the deeper water, but decided it was too cold! Amazing how the water temperature varies.
Swimming area next to the marina
Finally on Wednesday we were able to leave for Fuertaventura – and try out our improved rigging.