Thursday, August 18, 2011

Lanzarote Trees

I've been encouraged by Little Nell to take the plunge and contribute to Sepia Saturday, and since my home of Lanzarote is essentially an offshore bit of the Sahara, this week's theme about trees seemed like plunging in the deep end!  This first picture, of a Dragon Tree on Tenerife, a neighbouring island, qualifies as old, since I took it on honeymoon 36 years ago, and the tree itself is hundreds of years old.

Most of Lanzarote's trees are palms, but there are exceptions, such as this Papaya in a street in Haria.

And this Acacia, clinging to the cliff  over a footpath running a thousand feet above the sea at Famara.

Every Christmas huge "presents" are hung from this huge old fir in the plaza mayor - the town square - of Haria  where they dangle over the heads of the customers in the cafe below.

Sometimes the palms suffer in the strong trade winds, like this one, bowed but not defeated when it was partially uprooted, but which clawed its way back to the vertical - it's not really being supported by my walking group!

Sometimes, they are colonised by euphorbias, such as this parasitic growth

  And sometimes they give in, die, and fold over like this one, reminiscent of an elephant's trunk

The weather is not always perfect here, as this rather surreal image of palm trees in the mist (no gorillas though) shows:

One of our friends, on seeing this blog, sent me a photograph of a very old Acacia in his beautiful garden  overlooking Fuerteventura, across the Bocaina Straits

And finally, an artificial Christmas tree in the Marina Rubicon, Playa Blanca. To me, this picture sums up, better than a thousand words, why we live here in Lanzarote!

El Golfo to Tenezar

On 12 March 2010, David S. David P and I decided to walk from El Golfo to the odd little village of Tenezar,  which we expected would take about 6 hours.  The first part of our trek is in several guide books and follows  the coastal path through the Timanfaya National Park to Playa de La Madera.

We climbed up a rough footpath from the front in El Golf to the Yaiza road, where a  vehicle track heads north west, past an impressive villa on the hillside, before dropping down towards the coast through the lava fields to the black sand of Playa del Paso.   From there the path becomes a narrow ribbon cleared of most of the larger rocks, which are laid on either side to mark the route. 

It snakes around and over the blocks of lava, never far from the crashing waves. At one spot we saw hand-sized black crabs with red claws.

At another, patches of olivina studding the rocks,
and, at a strange grey beach, rocks folded and sculpted by the wind into shapes like abstract works of art. 

 After almost 5 hours of hard going, but having covered only 9 km,  in the drying wind of a fading calima, we arrived at Playa de La Madera – a favourite beach for BBQs, at the end of a track from Tinajo, and where sensible people would stop.  But did we stop? Oh no; we plunged on across the lava, only this time the “path” disappeared, to be replaced by blobs of paint every  30 metres or so, leaving us to clamber over razor-edged, shed-sized blocks of lava from one blob to the next.


Finally we missed a mark, and from then on the going got insane. If one of us had fallen, we would almost certainly have broken bones and sliced ourselves to shreds.  In normal places, this would have been bad.  Here it was downright scary, as the only way of getting a casualty out would be by helicopter. On we plunged, our maps useless, until after 7 hours we stumbled upon a trace track through the lava used by goatherds. By this stage, David P’s shoes were wearing out, and you could see his foot through the heel, and David S was in agony with his back from the constant jarring.  I was OK, except that by now we had almost run out of water, and the dust was making my eyes and nose stream. After about 8 hours, we finally came to the road into Tenezar, where we kissed the tarmac in gratitude. Having retrieved David P’s van from Tenezar, we retreated to Tinajo, where David  ceremoniously binned his shoes, and we staggered into a bar.

On  a serious note, the sign at the start track leaving Playa del Paso for Madera, says “This entails a great physical effort. Do not overestimate your physical condition. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes (volcanic rock is very abrasive). Remember to carry food which is rich in carbohydrates, water, and protection from the sun (cap, hat lotion etc). Do not follow this route if you are with babies, young children or if you have heart or respiratory problems. Your health may suffer due to the physical effort, and tough weather conditions.” And that was about the easy part of the route!

If you want to visit Playa de la Madera, or Tenezar – and Tenezar in particular is worth seeing, you should go on the road and track from Tinajo, by car, bike or on foot, but don’t attempt the coast between. We have read the odd guide book which talks about a path leading South out of Tenezar to Madera, and one day we may try to follow it from the Village, but if disappears, we will turn back!