A Short Journey into the past in Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

Finding Puerto del Rosario Sculptures

Every time I walk around the little port city of Puerto del Rosario – the city of sculptures – I discover something new. Yesterday, I walked to the end of my street Calle León y Castillo, which took me straight down to the commercial port. The day was warm and it was a public holiday so the city was empty, everyone sleeping off the Carnaval celebrations of the night before.

I’ve been passing this iconic roundabout sculpture for weeks now. It’s called the ‘three bums roundabout’ in English, and the same in Spanish, more or less, although they say ‘the three female bums’. – Rotonda de las Culonas, a symbol of unity.

Three Bums Roundabout or Rotonda de las Culonas Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

Heading down past Plaza del la Paz, which is set up for open air events with an elevated stage backing onto the street, I reached the city centre. I love the grand old buildings, even though I know they represent Spanish colonialism, and I have no idea when the building below was built. The history of Fuerteventura since Spanish conquest and occupation of the island back in the early 1400s has been one of a blending of cultures, new Spanish landowners fathering children with majorero women. But the climate here is so dry and farming hard that many Spanish overlords preferred to live elsewhere and the population remained low. To give an idea, Puerto del Rosario is only three kilometres by five at its widest points.

I was on the hunt of sculpture, because through it, the majoreros are telling the world some of their story. On my side of the street I encountered this chap, El Aguador or water carrier. This was how fresh water was carried to the doors of houses in Puerto del Rosario right up until the 1960s. These containers carried about 15 litres each.

El Aguador Sculpture Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

A Detour into the Past of Canary Islands Travel Writer Olivia Stone

My sculpture hunt was sidetracked when I passed by this building. Back in the 1880s, British travel writer Olivia Stone came on a tour of the Canary Islands with her husband. Her travel diary Tenerife and Its Six Satellites is well worth a read.  The two volumes paint a vivid picture of the islands and serve as a vital historical document. When researching Clarissa’s Warning, which includes some of Olivia Stone’s mysterious story including her disappearance from public life, I discovered she had stayed in this building, then a hotel and now, sadly, a ruin. This building is in a prime location at the end of Calle León y Castillo. Something grand should be done here! But then again, would Fuerteventura want to spotlight a British couple who single-handedly stimulated the first tourist boom the Canary Islands experienced? Although it was not a boom that reached Fuerteventura. That said, Olivia Stone played an enormous role in documenting the traditional ways of the islands as she found them then, and somewhere, I feel some honour is due her.

Olivia Stone Fuerteventura Canary Islands casa ruinas ruins Fuerteventura old hotel Olivia Stone travel writer Canary Islands

I carried on, having reached the end of my street. The old and the new blend a little uneasily in this city, as is made clear a few paces on at the corner of Calle Ruperto González.

REl Charco

Back to the Sculptures of Puerto del Rosario

On this corner is another roundabout sculpture, Fuente de la Explanada, expressing the traditional values of the island.

Fuente de la Explanada Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

The promenade along the port contains a long row of sculptures. There’s this guy…

…and this giant shell.

And then, crossing back, I found this, a tribute to round-trip migration. The majoreros have migrated to other lands over the many centuries largely due to drought and famine, and now Fuerteventura is a multicultural island, receiving Brits, Germans, Italians, French, Russians, Latvians, Polish, Moroccans, Venezuelans and potentially one Australian…

Majoreros Fuertventura

Heading Back up Calle León y Castillo

I think I had my British guise on when I set off for my walk, as I wore no hat and had chosen the wrong time of day and it got too hot on the promenade. I hunted for a seat in some shade but there were none. So I headed back up the hill. Olivia Stone writes of how steep the roads up from the port are. Here you can see they are similar to San Francisco in places.

Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

I stopped to catch my breath in the shade a couple of times, and to photograph more of the charming old buildings.

Soon I was back at the church, Our Lady of the Rosary, which dominates the main square. Conceived in 1812 and built in 1824 and then continuing in 1835, today it is considered an historical monument.

Our Lady of the Rosary Church Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario

Walking up beside the church I found this chap, Suso Machín, an artist and writer who wrote extensively of his time in then Puerto Cabras in the 1930s.

Suso Machín Sculpture Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

Walking around Puerto del Rosario, I have gained a tremendously rich impression of what is important to Fuerteventura, to the majoreros and their cultural identity. They live quietly and modestly behind the scenes, letting all this street sculpture – there are over a 100 works around the tiny city – tell their story for them.

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You can read my other blog posts of my February 2020 Fuerteventura holiday 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 two novels set in FuerteventuraClarissa’s Warning and A Prison in the Sun.

A Day in Fuerteventura with Photographer JF Olivares

Meeting Majorero photographer JF Olivares

I had only been on the island a day when JF Olivares – a friend I met on Facebook in 2017 and who inspired both my novels set on Fuerteventura – offered to show me some of his favourite places on the island. He’s a charismatic and passionate man and I managed to follow his Spanish for a good many hours, which is no small feat when you’ve just arrived after travelling for 44 hours.

The Secret Valley of Guisguey

We headed west from Puerto del Rosario to the village of Guisguey in a long valley, wide at first, but narrowing the further up we went into the mountain range the cuts the island in two for a stretch in the mid-north. Google Maps takes you so far into this enchanting location, but JF Olivares was taking me well beyond that. I was in for a serious back road adventure. I cannot describe how it feels to be amongst all this dry rock, except that whenever we stopped, which was whenever the road ran out and we had to turn around, we could hear only the wind and a few birds.

near Guisguey Fuerteventura

Heading from Caldereta to La Oliva

On the way back down the bumpy rocky road Juan pointed at some houses on the crest of the steep hill. El Time. I remembered my boyfriend and artist Pedro and our short-lived and passionate romance, and how he wanted me to move to Fuerteventura and live with him in El Time. It wasn’t to be as I was swept up by the infamous Miguel and installed in his house in Haría, Lanzarote, and my fate was sealed.

When we reached the main road we headed north a short stretch, turning off to La Oliva. When we reached Caldereta, a village I knew only because I found a charming old cottage for sale a few years back and toyed with buying it until I saw the dogs chained up beside the neighbouring farmhouse.

After a quick drive through La Oliva, Juan called in at a small grocery store for ham and cheese rolls. We ate our lunch standing beside Montaña Arena surveying the entire northern tip of the island.

Montaña Arena near La Oliva Fuerteventura

Fuerteventura – A Sensual Landscape Experience

I was agog the whole trip, drawn by sweeping curves, the sensuality of the landscape. Fuerteventura brings out the artist in me. I am sure if I lived here I would draw and paint. My photos cannot do justice to the scale, the atmosphere and the incredible silence of the island away from the tourists. Juan pointed out the ruins of aboriginal dwellings – little more than small circles of stones that were once huts. We talked and talked and my head bursts with fresh knowledge of the special culture of the indigenous people, the dark history of the Spanish overlords, and the lack of will of modern day governments at all levels to preserve the integrity of Fuerteventura and value it as so much more than a lot of dry dirt to be built on so that more and more can dip their toes in the ocean.

So pleased I managed to take this photo of JF Olivares, a man with a grand passion for his island.

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

You can read my other blog posts of my February 2020 Fuerteventura holiday 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 two novels set in FuerteventuraClarissa’s Warning and A Prison in the Sun.