28:12.32 N 14:01.44W Gran Tarajal Marina. First,3rd November Rosario to Betancuria, white knuckle, granny gasping ride. 4th Nov to Gran Tarajal
Fri 6 Nov 2015 14:37
The night before two Germans had said they were leaving as they did not like the look of the place (Rosario) and there was nothing here for them. Funny how there are as many perceptions of places as people visiting them. Next morning we rowed ashore saying hello to the Frenchman who spends his time ‘minding’ his and other moored boats, and the local fisherman making his way home with his catch, “Hola, buenos dias.”
The small well filled little bus sped us westwards towards the volcanoes past goat farms and dry gulches where the swirls of mud illustrated the torrents of water that must surge down them in the rains. As we climbed cyclists were struggling up the steep inclines and I gasped as the bus sped around tight bends in the middle of the road revealing long rocky drops from the side of the road. At least there were no overturned buses down them as I had seen in the US.
Betancuria is a significant little town lying hidden from the world, either side of a carefully walled ravine in a fertile and picturesque valley. Jean de Bethencourt, of Normandy, invaded back in the 14th century and for the locals it was a case of submit or die. Betancuria became the governing capital of the Canaries because it was well protected from the coast and risk of invasion. But as time marched on each island became self-governing to a degree and Gran Canaria took supremacy in many matters. Now it is the historical capital and many families, including the owners of Casa Santa Maria and the 5th generation of the Gonzalez Dumpierrez family who owned the Princess Arminda restaurant where we had a light lunch, have returned to rebuild their previously derelict estates and they are now successful enterprises for locals and visitors alike.
We watched a slide show about the island in springtime and for a brief time it becomes a colourful carpet of poppies and daisies and many other flowers covering what seemed to us to be square miles of barren plains. To trap the precious rain fields are built of dry stone walls topped with soil. They are called gavias and with the valuable vegetable and goat farming industry they are still very much in use.
As we sat at the bus stop we heard the clicking of the watering system that gave the individual trees and shrubs life in a beautiful garden by the road. Above us two peregrine falcons were buzzing a pair of buzzards. Ring necked doves pecked at crumbs outside the eateries and wood pigeons gave their gentle call. We learned that song thrushes, yellow-eyed rock curlews, blue tits and finches also frequent the countryside, along with our old friend, the sparrow. A return visit in springtime would be worthwhile!
4th November. To Gran Tarajal Marina. Farewell to the friendly frenchman, and the local who exercises his Harris Hawk from the cruise-liner terminal when it is unoccupied and to the lovely raven haired lass at Freteria Tino Bar who, after a few days of practise, would have our beers ready for us shortly after we arrived at our ‘local’ without our even saying a word!
Motoring because the wind was light, we passed shoreline caves with vertical basalt columns, reminding me of Fingal’s Cave, voluptuous lava flows now warmed by the sun, steep, rocky, sharp cliffs where no human foot has ever trod in millions of years and 1000’s of acres of remoteness accentuated by tiny hamlets and sole simple homesteads. The earthy rustic colours, reds, oranges and pinks change as the sun moves over them and against the intense blue sky the volcanoes are beautiful, in my view anyway.
Finally we rounded the last headland and the wind increased enough for the genoa to take us the last few miles. The anchorage did not feel too appealing as the afternoon breeze was funnelling around the headland so we took up residence in the protection of the harbour.
A few minutes later, after another successful visit to tourist information, I was sitting in the recommended Dory Monroy peluqueros hair salon awaiting my fate. I kept looking in the mirror at Rob to see if he approved or should I yell “stop” but he was engrossed in a magazine. And you can’t really ask the lady to stop halfway through anyway can you! Ok, the long and the very short is I have had to trim Rob’s hair this morning just to say mine is still longer than his. Its cool, pixie-ish and should not need another trim for at least six months!
The other visiting yachts are from Austria, Germany, Norway, France and a couple of English. Four young lads, three Spanish and one English left the harbour in an inflatable under outboard last evening to do some speargun fishing. We were relieved to hear their motor returning since it was now after dark. They had caught numerous fish by torchlight, including squid, mullet, and a reddy brown big fish worth 80 Euros in the market.
Another very pleasurable task this morning, as the temperature is over 30’, is to wash the fridge ensuring that I lean right in, feet off the floor and reach the deepest corners!
WOMAD Fuerteventura is setting up for an international music festival this weekend with fabulous colourful banners. (Wonder if they would miss one!) Roadies in stetson’s are busy with the vast amount of preparation to be done. Stall holders are setting up shop and the fair is getting ready too. We will stay for a visit this evening and leave tomorrow for Morro Jable if they have room for a night or two before sailing overnight to somewhere on the south coast of Gran Canaria, preferably somewhere with some washing machines!