Lanzarote has much in common with Shetland – both are essentially treeless. There are exceptions on Lanzarote in peoples “gardens”, where we spotted a few Norfolk pines (which is about my least favourite tree). Haría is also a bit special in that it is known for its palm trees. This is where tour guide Francine decided to head today.
We set off heading north, keen to avoid the one-way streets of Puerto del Carmen which seem to act like a non-return valve, planning a first stop at Teguise, which is the old capital of Lanzarote.
The hooley which had been blowing for two days and nights entered its third day, this time accompanied by a spit or three of drizzle, as we entered Teguise. We found a useful parking spot and bailed out.
Heading for the small centre of a modestly sized town, the first intriguing sight we saw was some wag’s garden/yard, inventively decorated with varied collection of very basic sculptures. As we neared the centre, I got the impression they must’ve known I was coming when we bumped into a Dragonfly Shop. We’ve clearly moved from weird to considerate. 😀
Aside: this is perhaps an appropriate time to mention that there is absolutely no fresh water on Lanzarote. The entire island is kept alive by a single desalination plant, situated right next to the power station. Desalination is apparently quite power hungry. Aim a missile at these two and Lanzarote would be disabled. The lack of fresh water meant that this would likely be the only dragonfly I’d see. There are records of dragonflies but in truth, I have never seen anywhere so devoid of insects. Temperatures are in the lower 20s centigrade and flowers are out but so far we’ve seen just see a handful of butterflies, mostly white, and a ground hopper beside a clump of vegetation on a beach.
There was a homely coffee shop in Teguise where we could shelter from the wind whilst sharing a very tasty wedge of cheesecake, then it was on to Haría …
… where we bumped into masses of parked cars littering every road with the drivers and passengers of said cars swarming in the streets. It was Saturday and it was market day. We did find somewhere to park and joined the throng. The market square did have some real trees (Eucalyptus trees, I think) to augment the palm trees and cacti.
After as much thronging as we could take, we decided that enough was enough, returned to the car and headed down out of Haría towards the east coast and Arrieta.
Just about the most notable thing about Arrieta is the roundabout at the entrance/exit to town, which is decorated with one of the so-called wind toys of César Manrique. (I’m sure we’ll get to César Manrique later but he was an artist/sculptor and pretty much the main man of Lanzarote.)This particular “toy” is known is some circles as the Madonna installation because the shapes that catch the wind most resemble Madonna’s inventive old pointed bra cups. A better image can be seen here. So, if anyone fancies joining me using Madonna’s bra as a toy while she’s wearing it …
Arrieta proved to be somewhat calmer and much easier to park in. We bailed out on an outskirt and wandered in to find lunch. Somewhere in the middle of this picture is our chosen restaurant where we sat looking out of the ocean munching lapas. Yes, lapas not tapas. Lapas are limpets and, like snails, are a damn fine excuse for garlic butter. We’d first encountered them to eat on Madeira 10 years ago. [Good grief, how time flies with age and pandemics.] They are served, inverted, on a sizzling griddle. These weren’t the best but they are fun and I love ‘em. We followed up by trying their steamed mussels which proved to be just that, plain steamed mussels. You really can’t beat good ol’ French moules marinière made preferably with Scottish rope-grown mussels or the French equivalent moules de bouchot, both of which are smaller and sweeter.
This was our last free day before the walking tour proper. In the evening we handed our rental car keys to the hotel reception and met our tour leader, Ramon, together with most of our fellow hikers. We went out to dine as a group. This is not something of which Francine and I are greatly fond because it often ends up with a confusion concerning the bill for 16 orders and contributions. The process is further complicated by those who insist on paying by card instead of adding cash to the kitty. Our leader got off to a poor start by walking out to attend to something before the bill arrived. [Alarm bell rings.] One of our brave companions sorted it, happily. It’s worth noting that group tour leaders are usually provided with free meals of their own for bringing sizeable groups to restaurants.