Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Eight Days in the Canary Islands -- Day 7

The Green 'lake' at Il Golfo (not a volcano)
"Volcanoes," I say and before Alexander the Pool Shark can ask what I mean by this, I say, "Volcanoes" again. I really want to see an active volcano. I've seen lots of volcanoes, and yes obviously--if you've noticed my picture in the header of I Must Be Off!--I've even stood on an active one. I'm that rugged.

I've been interested in Lanzarote ever since one of my students told me how volcanic it is. You know, if you've followed my blog for very long, that I'm not so keen on knowing much about a place before I explore it. I want to feel like a rugged explorer exploring the rugged volcanic landscape as ruggedly as I can.

("Do we want to pay 20 euros extra for air-conditioning in the car?" Alexander asks.

"Of course we do.")

But occasionally for purely pedagogical reasons, I ask my students to tell me about their holidays. This particular student always goes to Lanzarote "because of the volcanoes." So I'm hooked.

Here is some nformation I know now but certainly did not before I ruggedly explored the island (all paraphrased from Wikipedia, give me a break):

1. "The first recorded name for the island was Insula de Lanzarotus Marocelus, after the Genoese navigator Lancelotto Malocello, from which the modern name is derived. The island's name in the native language was Titerro(y)gatra, which may mean 'the red mountains'." -- I suspected this last part only because "rot" means "red" in German, which is nonsense since German tourists did not conquer the island until 1983.

2. Lanzarote has 213 km of coastline, of which 10 km is sand, 16.5 km is beach, and the remainder is rocky. --Wikipedia makes the kilomters plural despite the fact that units of measurement like distance and time are normally considered to be singular. I can vouch for the rocky part, though. And also windy and rugged.

No matter what this looks like, the smooth part in the foreground is NOT an asphalt path for tourists.

3. The biggest eruptions happened in 1730 and 1736, long before the Germano-anglo tourist conquest. The Canary Islands are apparently the by-product of the American and African continental plates drifting apart--like the children of a very nasty divorce. Yes, we're also drifting away from Wikipedia--because it's boring.

4. From our air-conditioned car, I keep seeing stone arcs in the fields. I wonder if any other explorer has noticed this before, so I wiki it. It turns out they have. These fields are actually vineyards: "Single vines are planted in pits 4–5 m wide and 2–3 m deep, with small stone walls around each pit. This agricultural technique is designed to harvest rainfall and overnight dew and to protect the plants from the winds. The vineyards are part of the World Heritage Site as well as other sites on the island."

5. The national parks are kind of expensive to enter. And we are cheap (although Wikipedia does not confirm this).

"Thirty euros is too much for volcanoes," says Alexander the (cheap) Pool Shark.

"But how will I sell myself as rugged and explorative if we don't at least drive to within a kilometer of a volcano?"

Salinas de Janubio
"Do you have thirty euros?"

I dig in my pockets. I have 65 cents, a used toothpick (but only one tip) and a throat lozenge (I've been feeling a bit poorly). "Toothpick?"

So I don't get to see the active volcano on Lanzarote; I'm not even sure there are active volcanoes on Lanzarote. Just a second. Ah. In the National Park Timanfaya, there is indeed some action. Apparently--"apparently" since half a toothpick wasn't good enough for Alexander--"the surface temperature in the core ranges from 100 to 600 °C at the depth of 13 metres (43 ft)."

"Could we turn up the air-conditioning just a bit?" I ask.

We drive back to the port, board our hotel/entertainment factory and head directly to the gym because we are rugged. The farewell party is tonight, so we'll all be expected to be on deck in fashionable coats. It's an emotional event with lots of hugging and exchanging of emails. Not. I don't know these people. I haven't spent one minute sunbathing at the pool or chatting with people at dinner. Three thousand people on this ship and not one new--lasting, meaningful, passionate--friendship. What a relief!

Tomorrow Day Eight of my Eight Days in the Canary Islands.

I must be off,


Christopher Allen is the author of the absurdist satire Conversations with S. Teri O'Type, the story of a man struggling with expectations. Available from Amazon Anything.