Corrib Ramblers Visit Lanzarote 2010
By Mary Kyne
It was strange to stroll along, with The Corrib Ramblers and hear the thundering roar of the surf waves of this most northerly of the Canary Islands with its barren volcanic brown black landscape, the sun blazing in the blue sky with temperatures of 24ºc-26ºc in mid November. Our group was based at the Nazaret apartment block in Costa Teguise – very conveniently located to the airport and other destinations.
Lunar Landscape Walk
Brian and Maureen Buckley, Moyvoon who own an apartment in this picturesque town arranged that David and Wendy, two competent guides would lead us on three different types of walks. The first walk led us through the lunar landscape of volcanic rock interspersed with semi circular walled terraced fields of pecon – lava soil suitable for growing vines, figs and vegetables. The walls act as protection from the southwest Trade Winds. Farmers work hard to eke out a living under harsh conditions. Many farmers have moved into tourist related jobs and now only sow enough food for their own consumption. Most of their food is imported. There is not a drop of fresh water on this magnificent island.
Salt Flats of Janubio
We saw the salt flats of Janubio where most of the islands water undergoes desalination treatment. The roofs of the houses are slightly sloped and sloping platforms are built adjacent to farms to collect the precious natural rainwater into underground cisterns.
Village of Mancha Blanca
We visited the Church of the Virgin de los Dolores in the village of Mancha Blanca. A religious festival is held every 15 th of September in honour of the Virgin. During the 18 th century volcanic eruptions the villagers went out with a crucifix and prayed to the Virgin Mary to protect them from the flow of lava and she didn’t fail them. The lava stopped just where the church is built. The villagers’ lives were spared.
Walk at Soo
Our second walk started at Soo on the west coast and weaved in and out over white sandy paths along the spectacular shoreline of gigantic turquoise surf waves. This is a surfers’ paradise and athletic souls crested the waves with great agility while others were tossed into the air by the ferocity of the waves. Here at La Santa athletes from Europe come to train. The Irish rugby team spent some time here.
Northeastern Coast of Haria
Our third walk brought us to the northeastern coastline and Haria, home to the valley of a thousand palm trees. We walked the cliffs over looking La Graciosa Island basking amid the surf of the ocean, fields of locally farmed produce and ancient fishing villages. This area has become a dreamed place for the tranquility of lovers and it was here that Cesar Manrique spent the end of his life because this village of Haria was his idea of Paradise.
Cesar Manrique 1919-1992: Lanzarote owes the layout of low sized white painted apartments and residences with their distinctive green and blue shutters, its many quirky monuments at various roundabouts to the great artist and architect Manrique He was a good friend to Picasso and was greatly influenced by him. He created his own home outside Costa Teguise on a site of lava flow over five very large natural volcanic bubbles or lava caves. His home is a splendid oasis of peace and tranquility – well worth a visit.
Timanfaya National Park
We took “The Grand Tour” of this sun- drenched windy island within the heart of the Atlantic Ocean whose people have miraculously created homes and resorts amid jagged volcanic rocks and ashes. We visited the Green Lagoon of El Golfo where Olivin green stones were discovered. Sue, a geologist who accompanied us presented us with several “good luck stones” she discovered glistening in the sand. At TimanfayaNational Park, home to the FireMountains we saw geothermal experiments demonstrating the immense power of heat just below the surface, the natural oven where chicken and fish sizzled on a barbecue from the heat of magma below the earth and we touched the hot stones just below the surface.
From a double-decker bus we saw the amazing views of the deep craters and lava fields – truly amazing feats of the power of nature. At Jameos del Aqua Cesar Manrique sculpted enchanting subterranean gardens in lava caves and created a huge auditorium. In the under ground pool the blind albino crab clung tenaciously to lava rocks. Exhausted after a great days adventure we longed to jump into the coolness of the blue lagoon. Fortunately we resisted as we learnt later that only the King of Spain is allowed the privilege of swimming in this special place – it is not for ramblers from Oughterard!!
Puerto del Carmen
We visited the larger resort of Puerto del Carmen. We strolled bare-footed along the waters of the smooth sandy shore line dotted with various formations of volcanic rock and we wandered into many secluded coves perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Hundreds of various coloured deck chairs and umbrellas, sun tanned bodies, elderly couples walking hand in hand, souvenir shops selling identical items form a kaleidoscope of colour. We bought items from a vendor claiming to have three wives and nine children!! What a salesman. He greeted us with “Conas atá tú?” Of course we fell for his charm as we did when we were lured by an offering of sangria and free after dinner drinks into a restaurant. How easily led we were? We had great fun, great laughter, good food and plenty of sun … roll on to our next adventure.