This was our day to depart Lanzarote but we were not due to leave for the airport until 17:00. So, having heard the name César Manrique on a daily basis for the last week, we thought we’d spend much of our free time on a visit to the Fundación César Manrique which lies a few kilometres north of Arrecife, the capital.
Sr. Manrique seems to be Mr. Lanzarote. He was a local artist who wielded quite a bit of influence. Not only did he create many works of art but he also specified architectural requirements on Lanzarote, such as the colours that should be used for doors and window frames of houses according to their location. He also was instrumental in keeping Lanzarote low-rise rather than high-rise. (One building has now broken that, sadly.)
Getting to the Foundation would be about 20 minutes by taxi. People are fond of saying, “just hop in a taxi”, a phrase that I regard with suspicion following experiences in Singapore. Getting a taxi from your hotel is generally very easy, they can be booked or they often just lurk about. Getting a taxi back from your potentially remote destination can be more tricky since taxis often don’t lurk there and passing taxis frequently already have a fare. On one occasion in Singapore we had to walk kilometres before coming across a shopping mall with a taxi rank (and a queue).
Our Lanzarote hotel reception was happy to book a taxi for out outbound trip. They then said they couldn’t book a taxi for the return trip “because the foundation is in a different district and only local taxis can operate from it”. “Bong!”, went the alarm bell. For the same reason, we couldn’t ask our taxi driver to return for us in 90 minutes. When we were dropped off, however, our outbound driver did point out a taxi rank (2 bays) in the foundation’s car park. OK.
The foundation is one of the eminent Sr. Manrique’s houses … with a difference. It looks like a single story construction but it hides a secret. A lower floor, essentially a basement, of five rooms is constructed in originally natural gaps beneath the top layer of now solidified volcanic lava. Here’s what happens: during an eruption lava flows, the surface lava cools and solidifies but the underlying lava remains molten and continues to flow, leaving void spaces. Good ol’ César turned some of these voids into subterranean rooms that were cooler in summer. Clever. There’s a pool, too, not to mention a bar and couches on which to womanize. César liked the ladies.
The place was filled with photos of the man himself, many depicting him enjoying life to the full. We went “ooh, ah” dutifully – more Francine’s thing than mine – before having a coffee and then trying to return to our hotel.
One of the two taxi slots in the car park contained a cab. The radio was playing. The cab contained no driver. After several minutes another couple arrived also looking for a cab. The cab continued to contain no driver as the radio played to itself. As suggested, Francine went back to the Foundation reception where a man helpfully summoned a cab. A cab turned up before Francine did. There was some confusion but, as Francine finally returned to me, it seems the cab was indeed ours.
We got back to Playa del Carmen safely for a relaxing lunch of some very good tapas looking at the ocean to bid farewell to Lanzarote.
A 17:00 taxi ferried us and two fellow travellers to the airport without any trouble. The airport was a zoo but we finally boarded, spent four hours flying and landed back at Luton in time for midnight and to collect our car before it turned into a pumpkin.
One slight panic awaited. I had pre-booked the 10-day parking slot in Terminal Car Park 1. Our car behaved, started and I drove to the exit barrier whereupon I was greeted by a message saying “Excess charge £627”. Very witty. I summoned a helpful man on the intercom who checked our registration and let us out. Phew! We’ve had that happen once before in Long Term parking but for a mere £260. So much for ANPR and pre-booking.
OK, we’re home; Lanzarote in retrospect. It was interesting to have seen but I wouldn’t rush back. It is not a place for those whose main interest is wildlife. I am fitter than I was a week ago, though.