Stop, right here if you haven’t read #4, Santa Cruz, and #5, Las Palms. Read them first so this will follow in sequence.
Today we’re going to cover the last of the Canary Islands we visited, Lanzarote. I’m writing this starting on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2011, we just finished visiting Casablanca, which I will cover in my next blog.
It is said that Lanzarote and the Canary Islands were spawned by volcanic activity more than 20 million years ago. Four thousand years ago ago humans migrated from Europe by land to these islands, and after rising waters, 3000 years later decedents of these first settlers, called guanches, greeted the first explorers. The Castilians arrived in 1478. Santa Cruz and Las Palmas have covered their lava rock to a great extent and appear to be much greener than Lanzarote. It is as if the Lanzarotes love their lava rock, and wine growers have even changed the way they traditionally grow grape vines, making bowl shaped pits filled with picon (lava pebbles) which capture and retain water to nourish the plants. The vintners use lava stone walls to protect their plants from the wind, which continually blow across the island (I’ll show you pictures later). Lanzarote’s last major volcanic activity was in 1776, but as you will see the whole island is sitting on molten lava, far below the surface. This is the closest island to Africa (about 100 miles) and it seems the people are less tied to Spain (the island is Spanish) and more influenced by Africa (all houses and buildings are white stucco, little or no color). Having said all that, it still is an important tourist area, especially in winter.
To see this island Susy and I booked a ship tour, mainly so Susy could get a camel ride, this being a thing to do when your in Lanzarote. But first lets look at the port of Arrecife:
Arrecife (near the reef) is the island capital and it’s principal port:
We climbed on the bus and soon left Arrecife behind:
As we headed into the country side and toward the Parque Nacional de Timanfaya the villages became smaller and smaller, and the lava seemed everywhere:
As we passed into the Parque (an area that arose in 1730, with eruptions until 1776), believe me it felt like we had landed on the moon. I can’t describe the eerie feeling we had as we entered. I’ll try to show you a few photos of the terrain but they can not do justice to the vastness of this area:
Several small creators:
Our first stop was a restaurant that was built in the middle of this park:
The restaurant uses the heat from the hot lava to cook and outside the guides did several demonstrations of the heat below in the earth. First they gave us some peddles which they scooped from underneath the peddles on the top (the top ones we were standing on were cool). These peddles were so hot you could hardly hold them. Next they dug a hole (I’ll show you the before and after photo), put some straw in it, and within seconds the straw was on fire:
As a last demonstration, a guide poured a bucket of water down a pipe that was driven some 90 feet or more into the earth. Within about 5 seconds (I timed it to get this photo) a gusher of steam came out of the hole:
Imagine working in that restaurant every day wondering when the next eruption will happen. One last photo from this site shows Susy and I were there:
Next stop the camels. Susy had been talking about this event for days and we were not disappointed in the least. We took many photos, but I’m only going to show you two for now. What you did was, sit two on a camel, get in a small caravan of camels and go up a hill to view a large crater, then return. How about this:
Meet Emilio our faithful steed. Emilio was the lead camel of our group and got us up and back without any problem. Oh, and the crater we went to see:
I can’t say enough about the landscape we viewed for those hours. Lava flow rivers (all dry), lava rock and caves, craters; it was eerie, beautiful, and believe me out of this world.
We left the park with one last stop for the day. It was like icing on the cake for Susy because our last stop was a Lanzarote winery. Your not going to believe it but this is a Lanzarote grape field (vineyard):
You don’t need to guess where I found Susy as soon as we got to the winery:
Now, I swear she didn’t drink a barrel of the wine (but she tried). No, seriously they had a dry and a sweet (Muscatel). Of course, Susy liked the dry and I like the sweet, but we did get to taste a glass of each, so the day ended on a high note.
That’s it from Lanzarote, a truly great day, and never forget experience. It was sad to leave the Canaries, but with one sea day in between, it was on to Casablanca, the city Humphrey Bogart made famous even though he never saw the place.
Until next, Love You All,
Gary (alias Gagu)
P.S. I’m sitting in a café in Gibraltar while Susy is out doing you know what. I’m sending all the Canaries (this is the last of 3) and I’m sure it will be several days before I get to send Casablanca, Gibraltar, etc. as we hit a port a day.