Sometimes it is not until you go somewhere else that you appreciate what you have at home.
Last month Julie and I went to Fuerteventura for a week, the flight landed at 8.30am, we picked up our hire car and off we went to parts unknown. We had only been on the road a few minutes when our resident navigator (we call her Jennifer and she lives on Julie’s mobile), chirped up with the cheery message, ‘You are entering a radar speed trap’. A glance at the dash and sure enough, I was two kph over the limit. I swear having Jennifer is like having another wife in the car.
Our first stop was the town of Puerto del Rosario whose only claim to fame is the writer, poet and philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno – who? Miguel was banished from the Spanish mainland in 1924 after being overly critical of the Primo de Rivera regime. Whilst on the island he composed some unmemorable sonnets such as ‘If the Canary Islands are called the Fortunate Islands, Fuerteventura should be called Highly Adventurous’. They must lose something in the translation. Miguel was obviously not taking a shine to the place. After four months he had enough of Fuerteventura and escaped to France. Eighty years later, with no better subject to hand, the local authority decided to promote Miguel as a tourist attraction complete with a museum dedicated to him, statues in various parts of the town and wall plaques at places where he used to sit and cogitate his next derogatory soliloquy.
Five kilometres after leaving Puerto del Rosario I had an inkling of what Miguel was trying to get at. Whatever it says in the travel guides, Fuerteventura is a hot, barren, dry, volcanic lump of rock, stuck in one of the windiest parts of the Atlantic Ocean. The only trees are in the few towns, and they are imported. They must be protected from the wind and watered regularly to survive. Goats easily outnumber humans. The
view is unrelieved brown, sandy, khaki hills interspersed with brown, sandy, khaki valleys. Julie had gone very quiet. She later told me she was worried she had brought me to such a wasteland.
She need not have worried. All those hills were volcanoes. I love volcanoes, and I made it my mission to climb as many as I could. No matter that it was supposed to be closed (how can you close a volcano?), I managed to climb the sacred mountain of Tindaya, then I did the Caldera de Gairia, the caldera at the top is an almost perfect circle, about 200m in diameter with a basalt cone in the centre. “Magic our Maurice”.
Where was Julie while I was gallivanting around volcanoes? She was by the pool at the hotel having a wonderful time, spoilt only by the din of builders renovating the tile surround for a solid eight hours a day.
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