Saturday, April 16, 2011

31/4/11- Canary Islands

    Fuerteventura! Fuerteventura! Fuerteventura! Try to say that three times fast!  If of course, you can even pronounce it.  Fuerteventura was the destination of our springtime holiday.  In Spanish it means "land of windblown goats." No, not really, I think it means something like "great fortune" or "great winds." Fortunes, winds, it was great.  Before this trip I had no idea where the Canary Islands were. I felt like they had something to do with pirates but I think their claim to fame is more with the German and British tourists.  I didn't see any pirates at the nude beaches.
     The Canary Islands are Spanish islands just off the northwest coast of Africa.  There are seven islands and we chose Fuerteventura to get away from the other really touristy islands.  This place was still tourism driven but I guess just not as much.  Aside from tourism this island's big economy is goats.  There were goats EVERYWHERE.
     We spent about five days there.  The flight over was tight and poor Sean did not fit in the seats.  I was still recovering from Tera and Ed's visit and made the stupid mistake of staying up all night before we left.  It was dumb but I was busy getting everything ready, packing, cleaning and we had to leave the house at 3:30am so what was the use of sleeping for a few hours?  Well...dumbest idea EVER.  The slight cold I was fighting quickly blew up into a full on sinus infection.  Complete with ear aches and nonstop snot flows.  So that aside, the trip was wonderful.
     The flight was about two hours with a connecting flight from the main island.  Once on Fuerteventura we rented a car and drove about an hour south to our resort.  What a land. What views.  It sort of reminded me of parts of California.  No forests, just sandy ground shrubs and lots of rock, sand and open skies.  We quickly checked in to our hotel and went straight to the beach before dinner.   I was feeling quite ill and just wanted to go to the room and lay down but Sean was eager to see if nude beaches really exist.  Unfortunately it was so late that everyone had pretty much gone home.  We walked a short distance then wandered back to the hotel where we feasted on an interesting buffet and free drinks.  What a waste though when you're sick!
    I am glad that we had a rental car.  Each day we visited a new beach and a new side of the island.  It's amazing how different they were, each offering a new view and atmosphere.

The beach outside our hotel. 

Our little room and back patio.  It was so nice
to sit out there after a day on the beach and
read in the setting sun before dinner.  This is
where I wrote out my postcards and made it
through two great books.
A little view of the mountains. 
    My favorite beach was Cofete.  It was amazing.  Probably THE most amazing vistas I have ever seen.  We had to drive to the other side of the island, over the mountains, all along these old, barely tended dirt roads.  Our little car handled it well and Sean did a great job driving.  After an hour of windy roads with sun glaring in the windshield this is the view you get once through the mountain pass: 
The stretch of Cofete.  Like nothing I have ever seen.  Sun,
sand, mountains, sky, stretches of surf and every vibrant,
 vital earthly color imaginable.  You can see the road winding
down to the town.  It was a bit unnerving to come around
those turns but luckily most of the tourists stayed on
the other side of the island so the roads were empty.  




Some shots taken from the passenger side. 
I wonder who lives in that.
   We followed the road down to the beach.  There were only a handful of cars in the parking lot.  At least one of those belonged to the single brave surfer in the waves.  The rest of the people were no where to be seen.  The beach stretched for miles.  On your one side you have these large, solid mountains creating beautiful silhouettes against the sun.  On the other side you have the blue ocean with monstrous waves.  The beach was in between; wide and stretching for miles.  Some of the guide books describe this beach as "desolate, eerie and abandoned."  They forgot to mention that despite those few adjectives it also left you speechless and just simply awe-struck.  So worth the drive.  

A lost buoy.

Flat.  
The waves were wonderful.  They rolled
over the sand in long sweeps and left the
beach looking glassy and smooth.

Aside from the grand mountains and angry ocean
we had these big commanding clouds.  It's
hard to find adjectives to describe this.  

I couldn't take enough photos of this place. 
    Sean and I walked for hours along the beach.  The end was nowhere in sight.  It felt like a zen place but nothing quiet about it.  The wind was the strongest here and the waves were impressive.  Despite the breeze the sun was hot and I could feel my forehead burning down to the bone.  But it felt so good to soak up that sun with the wind, waves and mountains in 360 degrees.  After our 3 hours walk  we were both hungry and headed back to the car.  Up the hill a bit into the "town" of Cofete was a little restaurant clearly marketed to the few, but enough, tourists that came through the area.  We had plates of juicy goat meat complete with chunks of bone and I had the bonus of wads of goat hair at the bottom of my meal.  It was so good though and with a cold beer I could care less.  There was a friendly donkey that made its way around the parking lot inspecting exiting guests for treats and entertaining those still eating their meals.

The fabulous modest cafe where we ate our
goat meat and beers.  

The donkey.  

A view of Cofete.  How would you like to live here?  
I think I could.  
Sean next to our Fiat Panda.  That little car
made it through some tough roads. 

On the road coming around a curve.  This would have made
me nervous but I had that view to distract me.  
Goats. 
Some old farm ruins.  There were lots around the islands.
   On our way back down to the hotel from Cofete we decided to drive to the very Southern tip of the island.  There was a lighthouse and a view of this tiny fishing town.

The end of the island. 
     The next day we visited another beach. I don't know the name but it was filled with windsurfers.  This should have alluded to the fact that it was INSANELY windy.  Despite the wind though there were tons of people sunbathing behind the mini dunes.  Each party found a dune, claimed it as theirs by setting up blankets, wind blocks and umbrellas.  The dunes acted as a little windshield but also as a little privacy fence.  There were lots of naked people sunbathing here.  Be careful when you peak over the dune.  You may see an old naked German man.  Sean and I set up our little territory on the edge so we could watch the waves and windsurfers.  If I were feeling better I would have LOVED to have tried windsurfing but we stayed on our blanket and soaked up the sun.  Well, I did, Sean stayed pretty much covered with his fair skin.  When we were bored of laying around we took walks up and down the beach.  There was a giant sand dune that was fun to climb up or you could walk the other direction and be hypnotized by the dozens of windsurfers whipping up the waves.  

Our set up.  Not too shabby.  It did a good job blocking the
wind which was key.  Sean had a good system to keep the
sun off of him for most of the day.  

A view from the sand dune.  All those people in the water
are windsurfers. 

Me on top of the dune. 
   The last full day we had on the island we went to another beach that was really far north.  It was constantly cloudy at this part of the island.  From our beach at the hotel we could look out and see the clouds and then look up and our skies would be clear.  Once we got to the beach we regretted not bringing warmer clothes!  I had a hoodie but between the wind and clouds we were both cold!  There would be no sitting around on blankets and sunbathing here.  Along the rocky beach were stone igloos that were convenient for blocking the wind but it was still chilly.  We explored the rocky shore for a bit then headed into the sand dunes and ran around there for a bit.  The flora there caught my eye and Sean had a fun time running up and down the hills.
  


The beach.  The wind exposed a lot of the rock here.
Also, take a look at that cloud cover. Tsk tsk tsk. 

Sean, cold, in an igloo. 

Sea urchin!
I thought I could find some fun things in the
little tidal pools but like the other beaches
there were no shells, or signs of living
creatures.  Very interesting.  
A little beach flower. 

Some more interesting plants. 

The dunes.  Sean off in the distance. 

I am finding myself more and more drawn into succulent
type plants.  



A view from the dunes.


At one point Sean got a little carried away.  First it started
with him finding a dune big enough to "jump" off of.  I said
it looked lame so I suggested sumersaults.  After finding himself
completely covered in sand he went all in and tried out some
sand angels....


video

The end result was a scalp covered
and shorts filled with sand.  But still
smiling!
A view from our hotel.  The resort had five pools and
plenty of space for sunbathing.  People here were serious
about their sun.  We would wake up and go to breakfast
around 8am or so and already people had reserved
their lounge chair via towel and book.  There were
signs around the pools trying to discourage this
reserving but clearly people didn't care.  One day
Sean and I came back from the beach early and decided
to lay out at the hotel.  It was close to impossible
finding a chair.  People here were not afraid of skin cancer. 
  The Canary Islands were fabulous and I wish I hadn't been so sick.  It was like no other place that I've been and I think that it would be neat to come back and maybe go see what the different islands were like.  I feel incredibly lucky to travel to places like this which would be almost unthinkable to visit via the USA.  I will never forget that feeling of seeing Cofete beach from the mountain pass.  On our way back to London we flew pretty low over the island and it was amazing to see those beaches from the air.  What a trip, what a trip!  The crazy part is that coming back to London really felt like home....




2 comments:

  1. i anonymously love you guys.

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  2. It is so good to have a post from you!! I was beginning to think you had abandoned us. The pictures of your trip or holiday as they say in England are beautiful. You better get that paint brush going there is a lot of great painting pictures there. I hear that you guys are going to have some Yanks visiting you soon. That should be a fun time. Talk to you soon. Love & God Bless to both of you. Auntie Rita

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