Today was a bit of a rest compared to yesterday, being just 10kms with an ascent and descent of 300m. Come on legs, you can do it. 🙂
We started in Mancha Blanca village and began heading towards Timanfaya National Park. Our leader, Ramon, was keen to show us a “bug”, actually a scale insect, that lives on some of the cacti of Lanzarote. In fact, it used to be farmed. It was the Cochinilla, the poor things being crushed and used to make the red dye, cochineal. Ramon had been examining suitable cacti and finally found some with clusters of what he wanted to show us. Now we’re getting to the interesting stuff.
Our route through the village farming landscape eventually got us to one side of a Timanfaya lava field which we proceed to walk across. The going was flat but rough. These volcanic rocks are quite jagged and sharp and you really don’t want to stumble and fall on them, so constant vigilance was needed watching your footing. Once again, I was glad of the steadying trekking poles.
Having crossed the lava field, we were to be met by another local guide and split into two groups. The Spanish, bless ‘em, had decreed that group sizes in the Timanfaya National Park should be limited to eight. There were 16 of us paying tourists so two groups of eight it was. We would be circumperambulating a caldera, one group going clockwise (including Francine) whilst the other (including me with Ramon) went anticlockwise.
Ramon’s group soon bumped into the NP Gestapo. We innocent bystanders could tell that a disagreement ensued in rapid Spanish. I caught “ocho” and “nueve”. Ah ha! It didn’t take an Einstein to figure out that while we were eight tourists, we numbered nine with our leader and the Gestapo weren’t happy. Ramon apparently had an email from the park authorities stating that eight plus a guide was permitted but the message didn’t seem to have made it through to the troops on the ground. We were eventually allowed to continue. Ain’t bureaucracy wonderful? Oh, your groups of eight/nine aren’t supposed to pee in the park, either – no popping behind a bush. How curious is that? Stay dehydrated is my advice.
This circumperambulation was one of Lanzarote’s unvarying trudges, frankly. It used to be permitted to walk up the side of the caldera and peek into the crater but this practice had been stopped. Given that there wouldn’t be any bubbling lava to look at, I wasn’t sorry. Plants clinging to the sides made for some light relief.
At the end of our circuit we stopped for lunch before returning along a road to our bus. Our bus took us to a bodega at La Geria, a bodega naturally being another more interesting place. La Geria is famed for its unique vineyards; the local farmers have devised an ingenious way to cultivate wine in this harsh environment, creating funnel shaped pits protected with low dry stone walls in which to grow Malvasia grapes. Guess which way the prevailing wind blows. We’d seen a few other designs to protect the vines, too.
Our tasting in the bodega at La Geria confirmed something that we’d suspected at dinners: Lanzarote wines are actually very good. They are not cheap, though, being around €10 a bottle in supermarkets. Given the landscape and farming methods, production is necessarily quite low so they seem to be used for the local market rather than exported.
One of the more interesting days for me, so far.