Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dramatic Island

Puerto del Carmen in the Canary Islands,where I spent the last three weeks,compared badly with London in two respects. I couldn't use my Freedom Pass to get around and there were no theatres or cinemas. Why wasn't I more bothered? I decided it was because Lanzarote is pretty dramatic of itself.

Apart from one or two coach excursions, instead of sitting on trains and buses I walked. Since my favourite Galician restaurant was at the far end of the resort, my pedometer clocked up at least five or six miles a day. With a pause for coffee at a beachside terrace we strolled along the firm sand of the Playa Grande or on the wide promenade opposite a line of bars and souvenir shops known locally as 'The Strip'. These resembled Blackpool's Golden Mile' and offered 'English breakasts' at €2.50.

They soon petered to small bungalows in the quieter suburbs of Los Pocillos and Matagorda with their five-star hotels. Apparently it was Lanzarote's 'Gaudi', architect Cesar Manrique, who persuaded the island's goverment not to allow the behemoth hotels that loom over the mainland Costas. Lanzarote offers clear vistas of volcanic mountains that cover the interior of the island

It all seemed like a brightly lit play. Characters unswathed in layers of thick clothing show more expressive body language. Their gestures and speech are expansive, their clothes varied and colourful. Checkered pedal-pushers, plastic 'flitflops' and baseball hats or floppy brims look good with bronzed skin.

The restaurants entertained, too, with bright salads to accompany grilled fish or 'sizzling prawns' or the likes of 'conejo caza' or hunter's rabbit. Piquant red and green sauces called 'mojos' accompanied the ubiquitous 'papas arrugadas' - golf-ball-sized potatoes cooked in brine until their skins shrivelled.

It seems to be a rule on the island that all houses are painted a sparkling white, to contrast with the black volcanic soil and rocky outcrops of the interior. Palm trees are mainly of the squat 'bottle palm' variety, fed from irrigation tubes that lay on the surface, or bright profusions of purple, pink and yellow bouganvillea.

This trip we made no excursion to the island's many scenic attractions - volcanic 'fire mountains',lake-filled grottoes and lava bubbles big enough to turn into living rooms. I did bring back a small bougainvillea plant. By Summer it may ramble round my front door covered in brilliant blooms.  

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