Exploring Jandía

How could I forego the invitation to visit Punta Jandía, Fuertventura’s southern tip. I’d already passed up the opportunity to visit Villa Winter and the village of Cofete due to the nature of the drive. But I was reassured that the drive to Punta Jandía was straight and flat and no big deal at all, even for fearful me.

It was not!

A windy narrow road heading south from Morro Jable soon gave way to a dirt track badly in need of grading. Pot holes and corrugations and dubious edges formed this wriggling snake of a road set halfway up the skirt of the mountain range. Like everywhere else on this island, there was nothing to break a fall. This road was not made for scaredy cats like me. But I held on tight and, after insisting we travelled at the pace of a snail, mustered as much confidence in my driver, the oncoming traffic, fate and life itself as I could manage. We passed the turnoff to Cofete and I observed the way that road hugged the mountainside. I even saw the lookout over Cofete. Very nice. I would never go there. Apparently, many get to the lookout, observe the even more confronting drive down the other side and turn back.

These old roads were built in the 1930s when General Gustav Winter was building his little German empire down this way. During the Second World War, Germany owned Jandía. It’s a dark and fascinating history, which I am sure to tell in a novel one day.

Eventually we exited the wriggly portion of the road and headed along a flat plain sloping gently down to the ocean. Not much further and we pulled up in the lighthouse car park.

It’s an iconic spot. You can tell that from the number of cars parked in the photo below. None stay long. All the visitors do what we did, have a good look around, take some photos, then get fed up being blasted by the wind and seek shelter and lunch in the hamlet in the near distance.

Jandía Fuerteventura

Situated on an isthmus, the lighthouse takes up almost the whole area at the southeastern tip of the island. While clearly impressive and still operational, we found the lighthouse building dusty and closed up and the best that can be said is it forms a bit of a wind break in certain spots.

Lighthouse Jandía Fuerteventura

Down here, it is all about the views and the ocean and watching where east meets west and the waves break from both sides. Mesmerising.

Punta de Jandía

The photo below looks to the west. The following, to the north on the other side of the isthmus.

I have tried to capture the magnificence of the view in the following shots. Apologies for my appalling splicing! The ocean was that colour. These photos have not been enhanced.

Jandía

After soaking in the exhilarating atmosphere we headed off, following tradition, to the fishing hamlet of Puertito de la Cruz, which makes a strong statement for its size. Here is all about staying in a highly remote location, the fishing of course, and eating. There is a row of permanent caravans with sturdy annexes which can be seen on the left of the photo below, featuring the outdoor eating of the first of three restaurants.

The second restaurant is tucked at the end of the hamlet’s little street.

I was amazed at how neat and tidy this little row of holiday houses looked. Must be holiday houses, surely? Surely no one actually lives here permanently?

We chose the third restaurant, El caletón, which enjoys the waterfront. Terrific on a glorious day. And here is another sculpture, looking the worse for wear.

El caletón Jandía

I am not big on food photos. Instead, I chatted with Antonio, the hardworking waiter rushed off his feet. He lives in Morro Jable and drives down to Punta Jandía every day to work. What a commute!

We lingered for what felt like hours before we drove off in search of the old airstrip. We found it – a stretch of level ground about the right width and length for a small plane – and I decided it did not merit a photo. Instead, on the other side of the road, the island’s bottom edge descends in low cliffs that meet volcanic reefs below. The first photo looks west, the next looks east to the lighthouse.

The west coast is dramatic. A portion of a volcanic crater descends into the ocean and there is no way of accessing the Cofete beach beyond. No idea if anyone owns the goats.

Cofete from south Jandía

The island’s southwestern tip ends in a door. Why ever not! It is the most extraordinary thing I have ever seen. None of us could decide if it used to belong to a former structure or if it is a sculpture in its own right, standing staunch and proud on its own plinth.

It’s Faro Punta Pesebre – in English, a lighthouse (faro) – or rather, a beacon warning of a danger point.

Punta Pesebre Fuerteventura

What was obvious, to me and to my day’s hosts Jill and Ian, was here was a place to get truly blasted by the wind. Unlike the gentler if dramatic shores to the east, the Atlantic ocean to the west is deep and dark blue and with its heaving swell it lets you know it would happily take your life if you let it, even on a calm day like this. Seemed like an ideal moment for the all important selfie.

On the return leg – which proved shorter and less confronting somehow, even though we were on the fall side  –  I managed to take one photo to give an impression of the road. I’m not sure I have really captured the full reality as you cannot see the land descending on the other side. You’ll just have to use your imagination.

The whole journey back I thought of Antonio and his commute.

Now, after the richest and most fulfilling holiday of my life, I must return to Australia, starting early in the morning when I catch a bus to Corralejo, then a ferry to Lanzarote, another bus to the airport, and on to Queensland via Barcelona, Doha and Sydney.

Thank you, Fuerteventura! And thank you, all my wonderful new friends.

JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH MY CANARY ISLANDS WRITING

READ THE REST OF MY  FUERTEVENTURA TRAVEL BLOG HERE HTTPS://ISOBELBLACKTHORN.COM/FUERTEVENTURA-TRAVEL-DIARY/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of Voltaire’s Garden, a memoir of building a sustainable lifestyle in Australia, and two novels set in FuerteventuraClarissa’s Warning and A Prison in the Sun.

A Day in Gran Tarajal

On Thursday, I caught the bus to the Spanish seaside town of Gran Tarajal on Fuerteventura’s east coast. I knew I was in for an adventure, the bus journey alone amounting to almost an hour of door to door scenery. I am a real sucker for scenery. Only, so many times on the journey I wanted the bus to pull over so I could take long lingering looks at the mountains with all of their curves and their jagged edges. To add to my frustration, the glorious views continued on both sides of the road so you never knew where best to turn your head and, since these are public buses, how to do so without drawing attention to yourself. The bus driver, it has to be said, was a touch reckless. He drove too fast, tailgated, overtook when it was scarcely safe to do so and threw the bus into curves. I was not the only passenger to find this alarming. When I arrived at my destination, a woman approached me and struck up a conversation about the bus ride. She was Spanish and thought I was too. I carried on replying to her without announcing I was English and not fully understanding her every word. The intuition comes in very handy in these situations. And we had a good laugh.

My host for the day was Kelly and when she appeared and interrupted us, I felt handed back to my own language. This was the first time we’d met and as we strolled through the town’s park, all beautiful green grass peppered with palm trees, we quickly discovered we had a raft of geographical connections. I warmed to Kelly immediately as a kindred soul without knowing why. I also warmed to Gran Tarajal, an authentic, Canarian town displaying oodles of civic pride.

The park soon gave way to the promenade and the beach and the ocean. These photos are not the best due to morning cloud, but you get the idea.

Sculpture Gran Tarajal Fuerteventura

The promenade widens then narrows and widens again beside acres of fine dark sand. It is a promenade filled with seats and street plantings and demands of its walkers a slower pace, a stroll.

Promenade Gran Tarajal

Gran Tarajal is wrapped around a bay. Looking up side streets is a reminder of how tucked in the town is, tucked in below cradling, steep-sided hills or small mountains whose arms reach out to form the headlands. The backdrop is far more impressive in real life.

Canarian house Gran Tarajal

I got the impression, confirmed by Kelly, that Gran Tarajal is a laid back, family-centred community of mostly Spanish workers. Here there’s another of the island’s murals.

Narrow lanes Gran Tarajal Mural Gran Tarajal

And of course, more sculpture.

Sculpture Gran Tarajal Sculpture Gran Tarajal

And here you can get a glimpse of how the 800 metre long beach is set up for activities of all kinds.

Promenade Gran Tarajal

Kelly suggested we walked on past the port  – all agricultural produce was once shipped from Gran Tarajal  – to the marina and when there she spotted her friend Georgie, who lives on a boat with her partner and their three small children. The boat was in dry dock needing maintenance. Georgie came over and we chatted through the fence. After a while she invited us for coffee and we sat around beside her boat. I marvelled at what it took to live a life at sea, let alone with three children. I didn’t even know what an anchorage was, such is my knowledge of maritime existence, and I had it all explained to me and gained an image of a very different kind of lifestyle. Hours slipped by and the early cloud gave way to a brilliant blue sky.

Marina Gran Tarajal

Eventually, we pulled ourselves away from what was for me an enchanting and memorable experience.

We passed more sculpture on our way back to collect Kelly’s son from school. Kelly was keen to take me back to her place.

Gran Tajaral

This time, we walked through the town’s streets and arrived at the seahorse fountain.

Gran Tarajal Seahorse Fountain Gran Tarajal

We collected Kelly’s son – memories of doing the same stirred as we stood waiting in the playground for him – then enjoyed a superb lunch at Kelly’s and a rich conversation with her and her partner Dean. It was then I discovered the deeper connection we shared. The couple are creating a sustainable lifestyle here on Fuerteventura, with off-grid solar, grey-water irrigation, trash-mulching and more. In about a year they have transformed their block with extensive vegetable gardens and orchards. When all the baby trees grow they will have an oasis. And they are smart, too. Their block is on a slope, descending to a natural flat-bottomed waterless dam. Their aim is to harvest as much water from that natural dam as they are able. Having created my own sustainable lifestyle in Australia, I resonated strongly.

I didn’t take photos of Kelly’s place; there’s always people’s privacy to consider. Just let it be known there are all kinds of people living on Fuerteventura doing amazing things. I was buoyed by this knowledge all the way back to Puerto del Rosario on the bus. This time I took the coastal route for more epic scenery, although I suspect I scored the same maverick bus driver!

Join my Facebook group to keep up to date with my Canary Islands writing

Read the rest of my  Fuerteventura travel blog here https://isobelblackthorn.com/fuerteventura-travel-diary/

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of Voltaire’s Garden, a memoir of building a sustainable lifestyle in Australia, and two novels set in FuerteventuraClarissa’s Warning and A Prison in the Sun.