An Archipelago Born of Fiery Eruption
Words by Ali Klinkenberg | Photo by Juan Fernandez There’s a phenomenon in Europe called Easyjet (fondly known as Sleazy jet), which flies members of a lowish socio-economic demographic to selected destinations on the continent, as a package, for an extremely low price. One such place is the Canary Islands. Lanzarote to be exact. Stepping off […]
Words by Ali Klinkenberg | Photo by Juan Fernandez
There’s a phenomenon in Europe called Easyjet (fondly known as Sleazy jet), which flies members of a lowish socio-economic demographic to selected destinations on the continent, as a package, for an extremely low price. One such place is the Canary Islands. Lanzarote to be exact.
Stepping off a plane at Arrecife airport you’ll arrive at a fork. The majority flow to the south, Playa Blanca; amusement arcades, buffets, all you can drink European lager, occupied by large families both in populous and mass, who come to the island to obtain a holiday pink visage. Forget all that and head north. The Canaries are a collection of islands off the north-western tip of Africa. It’s not quite Africa, but it’s not quite Europe either. Lanzarote is an island born of fiery volcanic eruption, and if there was ever a fitting epitaph to describe this isle, it’s thus.
Famara is where you’ll stay, and a charming Spanish fishing village. A long beach littered with peaks sits out the front of your white-washed villa, and great volcanic mountains punctuate the skyline. But you didn’t come here for gentle beachbreaks.
Days start early in the queue for the bakery, and among fishermen you’ll dine on fresh pastries still warm from the century-old wood-fire oven, washed down with potent espresso. Only then will you be ready for what lies ahead.
The north-west coast of Lanzarote is full of high-quality reefbreaks. The villages are isolated, and the waves, much like the beautiful cocoa-skinned girls, are closely guarded. Driving with boards on your roof will make you a target, and you’ll be hurled with abuse, and maybe the odd piece of building material. Subtlety is key here, so travel few and light, and keep that rounded pin propped up in the front seat of your hire car. On a day of favourable swell and winds, a likely event in the period between March and October, whichever red gravel track you point your motor down is likely to lead you to a powerful reef, with few local surfers. They’ll stare, and likely bombard you with their native Spanish when you first enter the lineup, but if you show them competence and respect, you’ll be unlikely to receive more than a few words.
El Quemao is the Jewel in the Crown. A short and fierce lefthander breaking on a jagged lava base, populated by the wave hungry and tourist resenting locals of La Santa. Truly one for the void of fear. But, if Quemao’s putting on a show, who knows what lies down the the myriad of dusty trails. I’d suggest looking.
Dining, the pizza is wood-fired and the robust tannins of the local Malvasia bubble on the stem of your throat. You’ll be reacquainted with the hordes of Playa Blanca in good time, at Arrecife airport. And unlike them, it won’t be your sunburn that will reflect your experience. It’ll be your eyes. Dark and blood-stained and fierce like the Canarian sun, but alive. So tenaciously alive.
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