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  The two volumes paint a vivid picture of the islands and serve as a vital historical document.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 short walk around Puerto del Rosario Fuerteventura

Playa Chica or Los Pozos

Feeling energetic this morning, I set off for Playa Chica, the lovely beach in the Los Pozos quarter of Puerto del Rosario. It was about 10am and the cool northerly wind aside – which had caused locals to don jumpers, jackets and even scarves – the day was glorious. The first evidence that it would be a different sort of day to when I last had a ramble about town was when I passed a few stout elderly couples with backpacks, obviously not knowing where they were going.

The pavements were definitely not my own. There were more of them as I neared the central square. Then, a swarm exited the side door of the Our Lady of the Rosary church. Last time, although the church had been open, I did not enter as it was almost empty and I had no idea if the two women inside were worshipping. It seemed wrong to barge on in. This time, since it was so obviously overrun, I went in and sat on a pew.

Our Lady of the Rosary Church

I tried to imagine what it would be like as a place of worship with its vaulted ceiling and huge wooden doors, and its modest if absorbing altarpiece, but there were too many tourists to get any sort of spiritual vibe. I didn’t linger long. I was thinking since it was Carnaval, maybe a lot of holidaymakers had arrived.

I headed off down past the town hall, skirting a party of cyclists, none of whom looked all that cycle-fit, and it was then I saw why there were so many tourists. Two cruise ships were docked in the little port.

Puerto del Rosario

Floating hotels. And they really are imposing. The entire promenade beside the ocean was filled with ramblers. It was not possible to walk in a straight line. I was a little disappointed to see the dedicated cruise ship market, located on the opposite side of the road, only had a smattering of stalls and many of the slots were empty. Seemed to me either a missed opportunity or the cruisers were not known for spending their cash. Something I have noted here on the island is a real lack of tourist bric-a-brac. I have not seen markets filled with artesans selling their wares. Maybe I’m missing something. I’m used to Lanzarote, where they even sell the pebbles off the beach, crafted into jewellery.

I kept walking, dodging, pressing on, hoping locals did not assume I was one of the cruiser pack. Although looking at me, it would have been a fair assumption. I do not resemble the majoreros at all.

Ahead was the beach, which I decided on the spot was my beach, having been there once before when it was completely empty, and those others had no right to it. Only…

Playa Chica

They had every right to it, of course they did.

Some guys in a van were setting up music so I sat and listened to Canary Island tunes, caught a little sun and enjoyed the view of the rather grand Palacio de Formación y Congresos de Fuerteventura – that big dark-grey building in the photo above – and the distant mountains, and I marvelled at this wonderful unassuming little city of Puerto del Rosario. I even took a selfie, replete with the ship.

I didn’t hang around long. I headed up to Las Rotondas, where I visited a bookstore to discover what I already knew. There is no place here for my books. No easy spot for them. I would have to make that happen and I think it would be quite hard. Just because an author writes about a place does not mean that place will embrace the works. Depends.

Wall Art in Puerto del Rosario

I kept walking, back to the church and on up , and I mean up Calle Juan de Bethencourt, all the way up to the cafe Gaynor and Paul introduced me to, a German cafe selling wonderful rich bread and some of the best coffee in town. Of course, you can rely on me not to take food photos, so here is another mural to finish off. The street art here is fantastic and all part of why this little city has become my ideal place to live. It has everything I could wish for. It makes me feel I have entered a Graham Greene novel. And I do admire Graham Greene.

Street art Puerto del Rosario

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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 morning stroll in Puerto del Rosario

I had no idea when I booked an entire month in an apartment in central Puerto del Rosario that I would fall for this little port city. Little, as it has a population of 40,000, which is half the population of Fuerteventura. Formerly Puerto Cabras, the city has been the island capital since 1860.

The barrios of Puerto del Rosario fan out from the port up a steepish rise. Ribbons of one-way streets filled with a mix of shops and residential properties are constructed mostly in standard cuboid style, although here and there it is possible to commend the modern architecture with its attention to detail in the facades. So much of the housing stock on the island is relatively new, a boom in tourism and consequent migration has seen rapid expansion in the last few decades. Evidence of civic pride abounds in the street plantings of trees, the carefully designed parks and the plazas.

Pedestrians have right of way, so crossing the roads are not a hassle.

Museo Miguel de Unamuno

I headed down Calle León y Castillo, cutting around the back of the church, grandly named Parroquia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario, to the Museo Miguel de Unamuno, housed in a building that pre-dates 1877, when it appears in a property register.

Lecturer and Rector of the University of Salamanca, Miguel de Unamuno came to Fuerteventura in 1924, after being exiled by General Primo de Rivera for criticising Spanish politics. He stayed on Fuerteventura for about four months, visiting the inland towns and writing his impressions of island. After leaving for Paris, he continued to include Fuerteventura in his writing and for which he has been acknowledged as culturally significant. I am going to have to read this author’s work!

 

th Statue of Miguel de Unamuno outside the Museum in Puerto del Rosario

The museum comprises a number of rooms with 14 foot ceilings containing original furnishings arranged around a central courtyard. In the centre of the courtyard, an iron staircase leads to a cellar below. After taking in the heavy furniture, the intricate tiles and the beamed ceilings and having flashbacks to when I lived in a house equally grand in Lanzarote, it was the courtyard that held my attention. I am used to rooms in the old houses leading directly outside. I have not seen an enclosed courtyard created in this style before and find it intriguing.

Walking the Promenade to Los Pozos

After a short dose of history, I headed down to the port, following a road so steep in places stairs had been provided for the faint of heart. I crossed another road on the designated zebra crossing – they are everywhere and very well-placed – and headed along a path beside the water, which soon widened and became a promenade. All along the promenade, just like in much of the city centre, are large sculptures in metal and rock. Here’s a snail.

Looking back at the city, these buildings caught my eye. The one in the middle is obviously old and I wonder what its history might be. Beside it is one of the city’s famous murals. I have a lot of respect for a city bent on beautifying and creating interest out of its plain white walls.

Something else that grabbed me was the way the local council had thought of every sort of comfort and enjoyment when landscaping the point sheltering Playa del Pozos. Beside the main walkway along Senda de los Cetáceos lie a series of sheltered and semi-private seating areas overlooking the turquoise waters of this most tranquil beach. I found the entire arrangement charming.

I arrived on a cloudy day, but still, the water has a lovely hue to it and the chalky mountains make a pleasant backdrop. The beach has so much sand and at the head is a boardwalk for those who don’t want sand in their shoes. I read somewhere that this is not a beach used by tourists as it is close to the port. Still, I would be very tempted to take a dip.

My destination was the limestone ovens, or hornos de cal. Enjoying an abundance of limestone, Fuerteventura exported lime to the other islands.

I walked up and around the twin ovens in their stout round edifice, and admired the view before taking a short cut home past the shopping mall.

A two-hour walk and I feel I am getting to know this town just a little bit. Really, I have hardly scratched the surface.

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.