Read one, get one free…
Despite the continuation of the ‘desagradable’ wind, we have had a couple of good days. On the 31st we drove through La Mancha Blanca and then took a lava field walk to Caldera Blanca: this is a recognised route with a path through the masses of sharp, curiously shaped lava blocks.
There are several informative display boards along the path which eventually leads you into the centre of a hopefully extinct – or soundly dormant – volcano. The remains of the volcano date to a much earlier period than the lava field, which was created by the 18th century eruption. The flat circular centre of the the caldera, surrounded by the steep walls resulting from the ancient eruption, is a surprisingly fertile spot, used until relatively recently for growing crops. Whilst there is little rain, what there is is caught by the steep sides and directed down to the flat fertile plain.
After that, we headed back to base, via a Supermarket, and mooched around until the evening meal. We had booked the special New Year Dinner, as I mentioned previously, and chose to eat at 8pm. Prior to that I cracked open Little Red Riding Hood, which was as good as its E1.82 price suggested: rather too sweet, tasting a bit of glace cherries.
The meal, with its set menu, was – to be honest – a bit of a let down. We started with smoked salmon, which though very pleasant was nothing special: in conversation with the boss, I said we had lots of salmon in Scottish rivers, but he had no idea of this lots provenance. The sea urchin and seaweed soup was perfectly acceptable, though – as Sonia suggested – it could have been tinned. Next came a piece of white fish – cherne (wreckfish in English). A bit of googling indicates it’s the most popular fish in the Canaries and generally one of the cheapest: our piece was unnecessarily small and served with tasty, but grossly oversalted Papas Arrugadas (local tatties) as was the small bit of goat that followed it. Dessert was a pleasant, but unexceptional chocolate fondant with a scoop of ice cream. Along with a glass each of champagne, a bottle of wine and a carafe of water (E2.20), our meal came to E132, which we both felt was far too steep. We didn’t stay up for the bells – assuming they do that out here.
Today, the 1st of Jan 2017, is Sunday but life carries on much as usual. We drove back to Teguise for the street market. It’s well-organised with marshals on the edge of town directing traffic into makeshift car parks and even more of the town centre is pedestrianised.
Most of the stalls were selling tourist tat: we had hoped to find some fruit stalls and others dealing in the everyday things of Canarian life. There was one area with rather better stuff and Sonia, anxious to get started on next year’s Christmas concert – her last, with any luck – bought three wooden frog guiros and is already considering using them to accompany a rendition of McCartney’s ‘Frog Song’. True talent and dedication never sleep.
Having done the market we headed off to the Cactus Garden. Forgive me if I’ve mentioned Cesar Manrique (1919-1992) before, but this Lanzarotean artist had a major impact on the island’s tourism. He successfully lobbied to stop high-rise hotels and to encourage sympathetic development, as well as founding a charity for the purpose and several tourist attractions, such as the Cactus Garden, which is an excellent example of sympathetic development.
Constructed as if in a caldera, the sloping sides and floor are terraced and landscaped, absolutely full of cactii from round the world. I recognised two I had seen in Madagascar, though these lacked the charismatic lemurs to be found on that somewhat larger island and we really enjoyed our time in the garden, despite an ‘over-enthusiastic’ Irish boy whose raucous ‘My God’s and ‘Wow’s echoed round the bowl-shaped confines of the garden.
We had been saying to each other that the Spanish seem to do Christmas decoration rather more tastefully than in the UK, but then we saw some of the other stuff…