It’s actually a little silly to talk about getting lost, by car at least, on an island the size of Fuerteventura. I speak not so much of getting lost in the sense of not knowing where you are, but in the sense of no-one knowing where you are, and being somewhere you didn’t intend to be.
It happens to me a lot. It’s happened a lot especially over the last couple of weeks since I arrived in Fuertventura.
My first intention was to simply drive around, find the places I remember from years ago, orientate myself, and decide what I want to explore further – but I keep getting distracted!
I set out each day with a clear destination in mind, and frequently never arrived. Faced with an interesting-sounding name I had to see what such an oddly christened place looked like. I ask you who could resist going to Giniginámar? Faced with a road which petered out into a dirt track, I couldn’t resist finding out where this road less traveled went. The smell of frying fish, led me to investigate its origins!
Disappointed to find the windmill museum in Antigua closed for renovations, I consulted my map and spotted another windmill close by, so, one windmill’s as good as another I thought, and set off. Meandering along a good main road, with very little traffic, admiring the views and the warm breeze through the window, I suddenly saw what I thought was a sign for the place I was going – wrong! I was heading for Tefía and ended up in Tetir ….well, you can understand my error, can’t you? What I found was a very pleasant little village, dozing in the afternoon sun, no-one around but some old guys in a bar, loudly passing the time of day, their trucks outside loaded with straw and tools. Trixy jumped out and we had a saunter around, but met not one other soul.
I confused myself another time looking for Tindaya. Perhaps I’d mis-remembered whatever it was I read about it, something about looking into volcanoes? (Must check up on that!) – what I found was 40 miles of bad road, well, ok, that’s a poetic exaggeration, but I bumped along a minor road – one my map describes as secondary, which itself petered out into a dirt track, at the apparent end of which I could see the ocean. Now my map says this type of road is for 4 x 4 s and mountain bikes, neither of which my old van is, but just the day before I’d clattered along the similarly marked road to Cofete on the south-west coast to eat fish, as recommended by a friend, so I knew it was probably possible. We clattered along again. So much so I found a loose screw on the floor of the car afterwards, but have no clue from whence it came!
It was well worth it. Apart from the one mountain biker and one car, I passed nothing and no-one. The sense of solitude was tangible. The only sound was the rushing of the wind (plus of course the bump and rattle of the van when we were actually in motion!), and the ocean views were gorgeous. I know that deserts are an acquired taste, at least this type of rocky desert. I guess sand dunes have a different allure, but I love them all. They somehow put you in your place, in the same way that seeing the vast array of stars in an unpolluted night sky can do.
My best misadventure so far, however, was discovering the little hamlet of Majanicho, up on the northern tip of the island. How I arrived there, I hope, is a story of its own for another day, but sufficient to say I was told of a market in a village called Lajares, and when I checked online, information was it was there until 6pm, so arriving at around 2pm I was disappointed to find it all over, and went for a rekkie.
Majanicho is where I ended up. This wee hamlet turned out to be breathtakingly picturesque, scenes from The Old Man and the Sea came to mind, and again it was totally deserted.
This was, probably, the most delightfully lost I’ve ever been in my life!
Hungry and thirsty I followed a sign which pointed to a bar, seemingly the only one around. Close by this clearly-not-open beach bar, there were some cars parked and a small white-washed building, and that smell of frying fish, so I wandered over. The door was open and I paused on the threshold. “Come on in. Come on in,” the guys sitting around an old table greeted me, yet this didn’t look like a bar, even like a guachinche. “Er – is this the bar?” I asked politely. “Nope. It’s closed today. They just open when they feel like it. Would you like a beer, though?”
I regretted declining the beer all afternoon, not because of the beer itself, but because, my god, but I bet those guys had some stories. In the days which followed I’ve learned a bit about the fishing industry here, and its decline – another story for another day, but on that day I didn’t have the questions in my head. What a waste!
They did, however, say that there was another bar at the other end of the village, so I turned around. That was closed too, but, you know, there was another of those dirt tracks, the ones only suitable for 4 x 4s and mountain bikes….. so much more interesting than returning to the main road!
This stretch of unspoiled coast turned out to be where the sportsmen were. The coast was sculpted into small bays, and the famous winds had blown the sands into endless, white dunes. At each bay a few cars, loaded with boards, and out at sea surfers or kite boarders. Sheer magic, and a far cry from the crowded surf or windsurf spots of Tenerife. By now I’d given up on finding a bar with food, but happily I’d stopped at Mercadona (arguably Spain’s best supermarket chain) in Puerto del Rosario on my way north, so I raided my bags and picnicked whilst watching other folk work off their calories.
As I hoped it might, this track, despite a couple of swerves in the thickly sanded parts, (They told me when I got back that the road has been impassable a week ago) led me to Cotillo and the classic red and white candy striped lighthouse. It was a half hour to closing to I declined the chance to climb it, and had a brief look around the museum there. I’d hoped it was a lighthouse museum, but it turned out to be a fisherman’s’ museum – perhaps more apt in these parts. The not-climbing the tower gave me some time to chat with the lady in charge, who was pleasant and engaged. Bonus was that she loaned me a book with a ton of information, which I have to return soon……..and of course, climb that tower ………..you just never know where you might end up when you choose to get lost 🙂