There’s a group of ‘things to see’ in the south west of the island, so we decided to bundle these into a wee trip yesterday.
First on our itinerary was El Golfo, not a Spanish mid-range car but – to judge by the publicity shots – a beautiful lagoon of green water. What we found was not as we imagined: a steady line of tourists (including us) on a beaten track leading to a headland where we could look down on a fairly unexceptional pool separated from the sea by a spit of lava sand. I suppose it was pleasant enough, had no one else been there and had we been able actually to access it. Independently, Sonia and I scored it at 3/10. At least it was free.
Not far away are Los Hervideros. ‘Hervir’ is Spanish for ‘boil’ or ‘seethe’ and we weren’t sure what we were going to get. In fact, this was a point where the molten lava from volcanic activity had met the sea, resulting in masses of jagged rocks undercut by the ocean and with chimneys, galleries and sinkholes down which we could watch the foaming waves crashing in, withdrawing, regrouping and launching another noisy assault on the rocky foreshore. It was quite dramatic in a repetitive sort of way and we settled on 6/10 before moving on.
The last of the three was Las Salinas, where the locals evaporate seawater to produce – but you’re there ahead of me. We could see the salt pans as we drove along the road and reckoned watching salt dry would be only marginally more exciting than the equivalent with paint. It was obviously also doing service as a Tourist Milking Station so, as we can get salt in Inverness, we gave it a miss.
With time on our hands, we decided to visit Playa Blanca, a resort town, and see how the other half live. I accept it was more attractive than Agadir (see a year ago), but I have a constitutional antipathy to readers of the Daily Mail. Along with the Sun, this seemed to be the main reading matter on sale.
We wandered round the marina area: these are often charmingly attractive areas, but this was just choc-a-bloc with small boats and – whilst inoffensive – exuded no real charm.
Eventually we had some tapas outside a harbour area restaurant, surrounded by English voices,tatooed grannies and oldish guys (hark at me!) in caps and pink Pringle v-necks. This explained all the Daily Mails.
A bit more wandering took us near an old watchtower from where the alarm was raised if pirates approached, then we bowed to the inevitable and looked in the swanky looking Rubicon Centre which claimed to provide ‘Shopping & Fun’. Both were in short supply: the supermarke wasn’t super, there was a range of shops selling womens’ fashions and a non-functioning small train for kiddies. With the exception of a children’s play zone, all the upstairs units were closed.
We had had some difficulty navigating the car into Playa Blanca. The satnav in the hired Opel is possibly the clumsiest, least user-friendly piece of electronics I have come across in years: fiddly and frustrating to program, it is impossible to shut up when you wish to dispose of its services. The atrocious pronunciation of even simple Spanish street names is very distracting and I’m not convinced the mapping is reliable. Whilst I’m moaning about the car, I must say that I’m looking forward to getting back to an automatic and one where the instrumentation is not hidden by the steering wheel.
I mentioned all that because we had difficulty leaving the town and I began to fear we were to be trapped forever, Tantalus-like, in this concrete circle of Hell: the sea and countryside were visible, but we seemed unable to reach them. Eventually we broke free and headed back for Mozaga. We had an involuntary detour in some small village where I found myself driving the wrong way up a one way street. Finally, with home almost in sight I entered a roundabout only to find a car bearing down on us and only managed to avoid a collision by accelerating to breakneck speed in first gear and leaving centrifuge-style by the nearest exit. It was probably my fault, which makes it no easier to bear.