Wed 3 Oct 2012 19:21
We're anchored in the bay of a desert island.
I've never been to the Canaries but I know loads of people fly here for holidays and the impression I had got was drunk Brits clubbing all night... Well, it's nothing like that here on Graciosa. We've not yet found internet so I'll have to try to paint the pictures for you.
It's a little island with three extinct volcanoes: one sooty black; one streaked and ringed with different colours: chocolate, chestnut, gold, and gray; the third half amber and half charcoal. The lower slopes are covered with cinders, pumice, the remains of folded lava flows and shell sprinkled sand. All around the island a ring of golden sand forms the beaches, with the occasional black volcanic jagged headland pushing out a reef into the shallows. The bays are filled with crystal clear water, (we're anchored in about 8m and you can clearly see the bottom) and the water is blue blue again, but a different blue than the deep ocean blue, this one's a bright aquamarine, like sapphire. It's about 25 degrees, and I'm told it doesn't vary by more that 5 degrees either above or below that all year round.
There's a small fishing harbour with a village. All the buildings are constructed of single story white cubes, the roads are just sand and, apart from push bikes, the only vehicles are 4x4s. There are a few little shops and cafes in the town, a bank that consists of a cash machine and a desk, and a little post office.
Yesterday, when we were done with sleeping (10 hours in bed in one go, superb luxury!) we went snorkeling on one of the reefs. You slip off the dinghy into the silky salty water, dip your head under and you're in a different world. Pitch black fish with fluorescent blue along their belly and on their fins; zebra stripped fish but with a big black dot on their tails; schools of little chaps, flashing silver at you as they turn; thick grey sea slugs, as long as your forearm but thicker; dinner plate sized flat fish, disappearing when they turn face on to you. Put your two thumbs and two first fingers together, now push. That's the shape a grey and white chap looked from above, but he didn't have proper fins, just little ones that he 'fiffled' continuously to get around, sort of like a humming bird version of a fish. We floated around, following them, watching them going about their business, in and out of their holes.
Today we climbed the volcano we're anchored at the foot of. As you climb the cinders under foot sound like when you shovel out the grate after a coal fire. From a distance the sand looks barren, but there's been heavy dew each morning and, very unusually, even a few drops of rain to pock mark the sands, so there are flushes of green all around when you look closely. And every now and again a freshly excavated hole, the size of a 50 pence piece (a mouse? a lizard?), and the droppings of rock rabbits and mysterious mounds that look like giant worm casts, but are far from the water and are much too big. There are birds too: Berthelot's pipits running in burst on the dunes, a small bird of prey - a hobby? Perhaps a Barbary falcon but we only saw him from above, so we can't be sure. All around you you can see the evidence of the power and life that was the volcano: spewed bubble filled pumice scattered all around, smooth dense lava, layered as it flowed over itself.
The sun has just dropped into a silver blue sea alongside softly sketched ridges of hills on the island South of us, Lanzarote. A scattering of lights like stars are starting to spring up there. Around us other anchored yachts are putting on anchor lights, a single glow on the top of the mast, but on our island there's not a light to be seen, just the volcanoes silhouetted against the remains of light in the sky.
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