23rd May – Day 3 (A trip round the island)

A pretty full-on day.

Dragged ourselves out of bed and made it to breakfast ahead of our planned trip round Fuerteventura.

Scheduled start was 9 am, so we got to Reception at 8.58 am to find our driver waiting for us (a genial Frenchman named Paul). His transport was a 7-seater Renault minibus. We were first on board, so we got first dibs at the seating arrangements. In fact, every time we stopped subsequently, Jean and I swapped places at the front of the bus – good news for my increasingly arthritic knees, as it was a tightish squeeze in the rows behind.

We then visited two more establishments to pick up a middle-aged Spanish couple and three young Italians. Paul had his work cut out to switch between Spanish and English. He managed pretty well on the whole.

We then started on our drive clockwise around the outer perimeter of the island. Corralejo is in the north, so we started heading south down the main route – FV1. EU-funded smooth tarmac almost all the way.

The main feature here was around 10 km of sand dunes. We stopped at one point whilst Paul explained the itinerary. He then answered a question that has puzzled me ever since we got here – where did all this lovely fine white sand come from on a volcanic island? Answer – wind blown from the Sahara over many, many years (the island is only about 60 miles from the west coast of Africa). Indeed, as we moved round to the western side, the sand became the black colour associated with volcanic rocks.

We passed through a number of places including the capital, Puerto del Rosario, which is an un-touristy rather ugly working port of around 42,000 people. This side of the island is much more geared to the tourist industry than the west side. Indeed, we went through Calete del Fuste, which apparently was populated mainly by Brits. Cue neat gardens and a golf course….. 

The island is made up of 6 municipalities and I think we passed through all of them. 

First stop was in the south of the island, on the Costa Calma (Quiet Coast). Not particularly quiet, to be honest. It’s a haven for windsurfers, kitesurfers and the like which, obviously enough, requires wind for which the island is famed. A stiffish breeze and overcast conditions were the order of the day with temperatures in the low 20s Celsius. 

We stopped here for a cup of indifferent coffee and looked out at the surfers:

Here is a picture of our revered leader, Paul :

As we turned back up towards the north, the terrain got steadily more rugged and spectacular. One has to bear in mind that the highest point on the island is a mere 800 metres above sea level, but you could be forgiven for thinking that you were much higher than that. Typically volcanic and very arid, but really impressive in its own way. 

It really is semi-desert. Much more scenery similar to this. I’m deliberately being sparing with the pictures here…. 

Onward north we went. Next stop of any note was the village of Ajuy with its world-famous (?) cave system. Helluva climb up and down to get there, and my poor old knees were really suffering. The cave itself wasn’t all that impressive, but to be fair, we only had 10 minutes here and didn’t go too far in. The scenery round about was rather good:

Here is the cave :

We made our way back, pausing to take pictures of the very cute chipmunks who came out of the rocks to greet us:

And now, lunch. Paul directed us to a restaurant that he obviously knew well. As it was quite a bit warmer now, and we’d been doing a fair bit of scrabbling about the rocks hereabouts, a beer was called for:

And then, food. This will not go down well in certain quarters:

Fried sardines and anchovies. Delicious. 

Off we set again, to the highest viewpoint of the tour so far, notable for yet more rugged scenery and a very large, tame crow:

Alfred, apparently. Corvus corax, according to an information board nearby. 

Next port of call was the pretty village of Betancuria. Nice show of various plants, flowers and cacti. 

Municipal border marker
Impressive range of succulents

The one below, rather cruelly, is known as Mother-in-law’s Pillow!

Nearby was a commemoration of the two kings who ruled the island before the Spanish came along and wrecked it:

After this, we stopped at a, erm, retail opportunity, erm, retailing various products based on one of the island’s main exports, aloe vera. I am deeply sceptical about the claims made about this stuff, so stayed away from the sales pitch. Jean, however, was sufficiently impressed to buy some stuff or other.

Time to go once again, this time to the attractive town of La Oliva. Olives are an increasing export crop for the island. We stopped for a brief look at the 18th century church:

Finally, back to the hotel, where we partook of the Cava that the hotel had so generously donated in honour of Jean’s birthday :

Dinner, followed by the evening’s entertainment, a duo featuring some great rock covers. Right up my street. Dunno who the guitarist was, but he was bloody good.

A poor quality video, but a great rendition

Tottered off to bed for a good night’s sleep after a long day. 

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