Having had a brief introduction to Cesar Manrique yesterday, we dived in deeper today.First we went to the museum based on his house near Tahiche. Despite being very much in favour of museums, I do tend to see them as rather worthy institutions packed full of Roman sandals, Greek urns and American Indian totem poles: my impression is that the word has a wider application out here, or my own understanding is wrong: possibly both!The house and grounds were marvellous. The art gallery part of the installation included not only works by Manrique but also Miro and Picasso, as well as other less well-known, at least to us. The gallery was built after Manrique’s death and also serves as a way in to his semi-underground house. Whilst working on the land he discovered a large partly subterranean bubble in the lava that forms much of the rock: this was big enough to form a sizeable room and gave him the idea for a house built in – or under – the lava flow. It took – if I recall correctly – six years to enlarge and create several bubble rooms linked with corridors, producing a stunning living space big enough to house a pool and dance floor as well as the more usual range of rooms. Some of these are almost entirely underground, with simple openings to the sky (it doesn’t rain much here!) whilst others, such as the pool, are more open to the sky. The decoration may seem a little dated, but the whole concept is magnificent and we wandered round the set up twice.The art gallery included some films, usefully subtitled in English, about the man, his art and his environmentalist credentials: I must say I took to him immensely.
After this, we carried on to Jameos del Agua, one of his first large environmental tourism projects. An underground tunnel, 5km in total, had been discovered created by volcanic activity and running into the sea: some of this has been adapted as a magnificent blend of man and nature. In a couple of places, water filters through the rock to create crystalline pools: one of these is in a large cave, the other now opened to the elements. Another vast cave has been converted into a 600 seater theatre and concert hall. Once again, the whole development is very much in tune with the area and of a high quality.
If you ever consider visiting Lanzarote – and why not? – you should definitely include these two places in your itinerary. They almost justify a visit on their own merits.
Next we decided to visit the small town of Haria – I’m not sure why. The bint in the sat-nav, whose Spanish pronunciation, by the way, is unbelievably awful, made a real hash of directing us, but eventually we ignored her and made it on our own. To be honest, it wasn’t really worth the bother and we weren’t greatly taken with Haria, despite its sizeable Nativity tableau.
Senorita Satnav continued to be pain in the ‘culo’ and having done her best to stop us reaching the town, now did everything she could to stop us leaving, trying to take us down impossibly tight alleys or the wrong way up one way streets. Once again, turning her off was the best option and we eventually escaped, though still peckish as everywhere that might serve food seemed to be closed.Last night we had ended up eating pizza in Teguise and we decided to go back to that town as we’re beginning to feel like old hands there. Once again, everywhere, including the pizzeria whose garlic prawns had given me such indigestion last night, seemed closed until we found a rather unprepossessing creperie (I know, crepes are from Britanny and we’re in the Canaries, but a man – and woman – must eat). However, the crepes were OK and a gap was filled.The Caserio, where we’re staying, has a restaurant on site, but it’s run by someone else. I’ve already indicated we were rather underwhelmed by our Hogmanay Meal and I thought I’d tell you about the service at breakfast. The Caserio is hardly full: there may be about eight other couples staying. The breakfast waiter looks to my eye like a tall Harry Potter and is certainly very pleasant, but totally incompetent. He will stand around arranging the Madeira cake – I know, it’s breakfast but this is Spain – whilst the diners fail to find butter, run short of plates, hot water in the flask for third rate coffee or any of the range of eating irons. He will wander through to the kitchen and come back carrying one small item before returning to repeat the leisurely delivery of bread, butter, tepid water or some other vital ingredient of breakfast.Anyway, breakfast rant over until being refuelled tomorrow.