Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200503 Fuerteventura Lanzarote

TUESDAY 1 MARCH 2005 – Linger in bed as it’s a dull and drizzly morning.  Fit in a last shower before our noon checkout.  Return to El Cotillo and call in to see John & Terri.  They tell us the wind has been really bad and this is verified when we return to the beach and find the other motorhomes gone and the beach flooded.  We can see by the waterline that the sea came up amongst the bunkers and almost on to the car park.  Fortunately it is sunny and we can sit out sheltered from the wind.  Marilyn & Paul join us for drinks at sunset before we drive in to town for an evening meal at “El Capitano” overlooking the old harbour.  Between us we share a fish platter for 2 as a starter followed by a meat platter for 2 as a main course.  With dessert and drinks the bill is Euro 85 (£59).



WEDNESDAY 2 MARCH –   Steve says the weather forecast on the radio is for 15C, wind and possibilities of snow on high ground, that’s for here not England.   Paul & Marilyn call in for a last coffee and leave us a “Red Cross” parcel.  A group of workers walk along the beach collecting debris from the storm.  It must have been very windy during the night as the wind turbine on the house nearby has broken.  Poor weather all day.



THURSDAY 3 MARCH – Again a very windy night but brighter start to the day.  Walk to town for Internet and call in to John & Terri.  John is flying back to England next week as there is a crisis with his business.  They own a pet cemetery, their son Jason has taken over the running of it but needs a break.  Using lots of windbreaks we are able to sit out in the afternoon.  German Gerd calls for a drink and offers to take us for a ride out tomorrow.  Tom & Joan introduce themselves and stop to chat.  Fellow naturists they also have an American motorhome.  The first thing everyone wants to know is how did we get the van here and how much it cost.



FRIDAY 4 MARCH – Set off with Gerd in his car just after 8am.  Heading south we make a toilet stop and check out the 4* Hotel Rio Calma at Costa Calma.  Part of the R2 group it is one of the nicest hotels we have ever seen but almost empty.  It’s normally very expensive but Gerd says there have been deals from Germany at Euro (£140) for 2 weeks.  Travelling the length of the island it’s noticeable just how much rain there has been as everywhere is green and spring flowers are blooming.  A type of daisy is popular but more impressive are the small lilac flowers carpeting the hills.  At Morro Jable we turn on to the track towards the lighthouse.  After the rains it is in poor condition and we are not sure we will get through.  Turn off right to an area where Gerd normally  parks by a house to walk over the mountain to Cofete.  The track is too bad for the car so he reverses out.  He offers the alternative of trying to continue along the coast then over the mountain pass and back up the other side.  It’s not easy going but we make it over the pass to be rewarded with superb views of the windswept vast expanse of Cofete beach.  Begin the descent down the very narrow road knowing that if we can’t continue it means reversing back up the many bends with a sheer drop at the side. Someone told us that with care we would get Charlie through here, they must have been having a laugh as we would have been far too wide.  Drop down to sea level and park in the “village”, a collection of about half a dozen shacks and a bar.  Back in the 1930’s General Franco presented a German engineer, Gustav Winter with the whole of the South of the island, he subsequently built a “Villa Winter” in Cofete.  We can see it on the hillside on a fenced piece of land exactly the same shape a Fuerteventura.  Rumours have it that this area was used as a secret submarine base and airstrip to ferry Nazis fleeing to South America.  We walk down the beach where behind a rustic cemetery is revealed behind an impressive wall.  Bodies are buried under volcanic rocks with a humble wooden cross and some bones are exposed where the sand has blown away.  Walk the length of the beach to the south, it’s a good few kilometres but we are the only people on it.  Steve scrambles over the rocks and finds lots of mussels.  Walk back partly inland but it’s hard going as we have to scramble up and down many gullies.  The village restaurant is very busy.  Steve and Gerd eat goat meat, it comes like a hock but Steve is not overly impressed and my fillet steak is ropey.  At the adjoining table an English couple have ordered fish soup and are rather shocked to be billed Euro 30.80 (£21.60) for it.  Definitely priced for the tourists.  The journey out is easier as some of the puddles have dried up and a grader has gone through.  At Costa Calma we make our way down to the coast at the western end as we have seen motorhomes.  John & Maureen and Andy & Chris have sought sanctuary from the winds on this side of the island.  It’s not a bad spot but overlooked by a large posh hotel and the parking is on a cliff top.  Cut across the narrowest part of the island, 5km wide, to La Pared.  Favoured by surfers and with a golf school it seems to have little else to offer and no beach at all.  Arrive back at 6pm having covered almost 300km.  Gerd joins us for supper including a feast of fresh mussels.



SATURDAY 5 MARCH – Usual mixed bag of weather but no complaints as we hear most of Britain has now had cold and snow for over 2 weeks.  It’s the “Last Resort” for Steve to watch football in the afternoon. 



SUNDAY 6 MARCH – Sunnier day but a cold wind, OK for us near the van sheltered by windbreaks.  Early evening a small German camper van and two cars pull up.  The people get set up in the large bunker and start a BBQ.  They chop up one of the pallets  (a few have been set up to be used as a ramp to get on to the beach) for firewood and begin thumping a nondescript rhythm on bongo drums.  Maybe they will run out of wood and have to chop them up soon!  Fortunately the drumming stops and they pack up and leave around 8pm.  At 8.30pm John & Terri and Spud arrive for a game of cards and we end up burning the midnight oil.



MONDAY 7 MARCH – Poor start to the day.  Eric & Ada call in for a coffee.  We’ve quite a lot in common, they live in Stoke on Trent, are naturists with a static caravan at Manchester Sun & Air near Knutsford, own a motorhome and regularly visit Australia.  After lunch the weather is superb and we sit out in hot sun until after 6pm.  It’s light now until after 7pm when the sun sets.



TUESDAY 8 MARCH – Lovely morning enabling us to eat breakfast outside just after 8am.  A super day and hot enough for me to go in the sea for a swim.  Tom & Joan call round late afternoon and after they have left we go over to El Caleton to join Eric and Ada for drinks.  They offer use of their shower and bag up some of their leftovers as they are leaving tomorrow.  Shame we didn’t meet them sooner.  Steve’s lucky to find football on Spanish TV to watch.



WEDNESDAY 9 MARCH – After a cooler night we wake to condensation on the van but with the promise of another hot day.  Eric and Ada call round with the last of their leftovers and stop until it’s time for them to leave for the airport.  Whilst they are sat with us Stewart calls round and asks to look round the van then returns with his wife Jane.  They’ve been staying at El Caleton for a fortnight and leave today but have just decided that our motorhome might suit them for living in whilst they build a house in Portugal.  Despite sounding quite enthusiastic we doubt they will come back to us.  It’s an even better day than yesterday and we take an afternoon stroll towards the lighthouse.  We never fail to comment on how attractive this area is nor how often it changes.  Joan & Tom call for an afternoon drink and we stay sitting out to watch the spectacular sunset.   Meet two of the newly arrived couples at El Caleton – Martin & Theresa from Bath and Stewart & Jenny from Oxford.  We’ve now realised that almost everyone who stays at El Caleton is a British naturist.   Steve walks into town for the evening football match.  



THURSDAY 10 MARCH – We are very disappointed to wake to strong winds and the makings of another Calima.  As the wind gets stronger the dust closes in on us.  Its very warm outside and a few brave souls try sheltering in the bunkers but don’t stay for long as the sand is blowing everywhere.  By mid afternoon the wind has dropped and it is possible to sit out and sunbathe through the dust clouds.  Luckily we have no wind at night.



FRIDAY 11 MARCH – The Calima dust still hangs in the air but thin enough for the sun to penetrate.  It’s a hot and humid day and the beach is very busy.  This poses a problem when the main beach floods at high tide.  Its really interesting watching people being gradually driven further back whilst the lake gets larger.  Tom & Joan call round with water for us plus a bottle of wine and some beers – needless to stay we drink the later straight away.



SATURDAY 12 MARCH – A superb morning with clear blue sky.  It gets really hot and I take shade under the beach umbrella.  Typically the weather changes at lunchtime and the afternoon is cloudy “forcing” Steve to go and watch football.  An old “Y” reg campervan pulls up with GB plates.  English Stephen has just bought it along with his Italian girlfriends Alexandria.  She has got a job in the Italian restaurant in El Cotillo and he works in Corralejo. 



SUNDAY 13 MARCH – Glorious hot and sunny day.  The beach is very busy and we make lots of visits to cool off in the sea.  It certainly seems like we have turned the corner into more spring like weather.  I check for text messages before going to the Internet.  Stewart & Jane want to know if we will accept an offer on the motorhome and deliver it to Faro airport in Portugal.  As I’m walking to town they text an offer of  £18,000 (we hope to get nearer £20,000) so I text back that we would deliver the van to Faro but their offer is too low.  End up negotiating on the phone and get them up to £19,000 subject to Steve’s acceptance.  I get back home and Steve says he would let it go in Portugal for £18,500!  We both have a restless night thinking through the knock on effects of abandoning Charlie in Portugal.



MONDAY 14 MARCH – Both walk up to phone Stewart & Jane.  I have suggested we try for £19,500 as we will be leaving all the contents in the van, Jane immediately agrees to this figure.  They are just leaving for 4 nights in Portugal but will make a non refundable £500 deposit into our bank account on Friday.  We will then book our flight out of Faro for Tuesday 12th April.  We are a bit wary as they really only had a quick look around the van and hardly asked any of the obvious questions but we will take each step as it comes and in the worst case scenario waste a couple of days detouring to Faro on the way back.  It’s a dull morning so in anticipation of the afternoon been sunny Steve’s is spurred into action and begins cleaning up the van and clearing out the lockers.  I’ve been doing bits of cleaning for weeks but now review it all trying to think of what we want to keep and what we would leave behind as we will only have the regular airline baggage allowance into which to pack all our worldly goods.



TUESDAY 15 MARCH – Gerd arrives with our regular delivery of ice pack and tap water plus a bonus boxed “red cross” parcel.  Yesterday he took two lots of friends to the airport and they left him more stuff than he can use.  I could now set up a shop with flour, sugar, jam, tea and washing up liquid.  Continue with cleaning up the van in the morning whilst it’s cloudy then relax in the afternoon sun.  Tony, who is staying at El Caleton, chats to Steve whilst he’s cleaning the van.  It turns out he’s friendly with Stewart & Jane so we try to find out more about them  In the afternoon Terri arrives with daughter Dawn and granddaughter Leila.  She intended calling round before but Leila, who is 15, was not sure about encountering nude bodies on the beach.  Goodness knows what she thought about seeing Steve cleaning the van roof in the nude!  Tony calls back with his wife Jean and takes photos of inside the van to show to Stewart & Jane who live near them.  Tom & Joan join us for Gin & Tonics in the evening and bring a few leftovers for us to use up.



WEDNESDAY 16 MARCH –   Tony drops off a “Red Cross” parcel and gives me a lift to town.  I want to pick up an E-mail from Stewart & Jane but the Internet isn’t working.  End up phoning them in Portugal and find they definitely want the van but want us to back date the sale date on the vehicle registration papers so they can keep it in Portugal straight away.  Agree to do this providing it is not illegal.  Hope they don’t come up with any more snags they haven’t thought of. Tom & Joan catch up with me to say Good-bye having already been to see Steve and dropped off yet another goodie bag.  Return to the van and find we have even more washing up liquid, wine vinegar and jam.  Hit the jackpot this time as both Tony & Tom’s parcels contained wine and one had a bar of chocolate.  Continue with the clean up job and check that things we rarely use are working.   John & Maureen and Andy & Chris arrive back late morning.  After sitting out in the hot afternoon soon we all get together for a game of boules leaving just enough time for tea before Steve heads off to watch football. 



THURSDAY 17 MARCH – I walk to town and go on the Internet to find out what the problem is for Stewart & Jane importing the van to Portugal.  To avoid paying tax they must have owned the vehicle for 6 months.  Whilst they could run it there for 6 months on British plates the MOT is due at the end of May and they don’t want to take it back to England.  We’ve got to deal with a few jobs on the van regardless so I call at the “ferreteria”, (hardware shop) and pick up sealant and filler.  Spend the rest of the day either gouging out and resealing corners or washing and waxing or to be more accurate buffing in the buff!   Whilst the others are playing boules the GB American motorhome from Fustes pulls up.  They have just been moved from the lighthouse area by the Police.  We had heard on the radio that over Easter you need a €60 (£42) camping permit for the northern beaches (refundable if the site is left clean and tidy), but we are not sure if our spot on the car park on the west coast is included.  Luckily the Police drive past the end of our road without stopping so we have at least got a reprieve.  Happy hour at our place.



FRIDAY 18 MARCH – A hazy morning with dew on the van.  Next job on the list is to swap the spare tyre for the one with least tread.  We soon come to a halt as the brace that was supplied with the van doesn’t fit.  Steve borrows one from the local garage but it isn’t long enough to get full leverage – good job we weren’t needing it for a puncture in the middle of nowhere.   The sea is warm enough for me to swim across the bay and back.  Terri call round and chats to me whilst Steve plays boules.  Receive a text to say Jane has paid the £500 deposit into our bank account so feel a bit more positive about the deal.



SATURDAY 19 MARCH – Hazy again and a cooler start so we both set too and finish the waxing.  Steve fills a last few holes whilst I give the oven a thorough clean.  Begin to give away books and other things that we won’t be needing so Terri drops lucky when she calls round.  Steve goes out mid afternoon for football followed by rugby. 



SUNDAY 20 MARCH – After a hazy start the sun breaks through properly and we have clear blue sky in the afternoon and high temperatures.  The beach is packed out, mainly with Spanish families.  By the time Steve returns from his afternoon football I am sat out having “happy hour” at Chris & Andy’s.  Many Spanish arrive to visit the beach early evening, to let their dogs out to foul on the sand, to shout loudly to each other and play the car stereo’s at full blast then to drive off leaving rubbish behind – no wonder they want a deposit bond from the campers!  The house at the side of us is occupied for the first time and we must be restricting their view.  Steve pops over and asks if it is any problem with us parked in front.  The man says it may be –  because they have to run their generator for an hour each evening and we may find it noisy but it is no problem for them. 



MONDAY 21 MARCH – Wake to a warm start with the sun shining in the clear blue sky and the van dripping in condensation.  It’s hot all day and we both do lots of swimming and snorkelling.  Using the air bed I snorkel across the lagoon and into El Caleton bay spotting many interesting fish.  More campers arrive and the Police again drive round but say nothing.  In the evening we join John & Maureen and Andy & Chris for a BBQ.  Andy has built a stone fire place and cooks a rack of ribs for starters.  By the time we are ready for the main course it’s getting chilly and we move into John & Maureen’s van.  We eat fillet steak with peppers, cooked on the BBQ, accompanied by jacket potatoes and shredded cabbage in cheese sauce – yummy.  It’s almost midnight by the time we leave after a lovely evening.



TUESDAY 22 MARCH – Another superb day.  Force ourselves to dress to walk to town to E-mail Jane & Stewart about the van.  We are not happy back dating the sale (it’s illegal and can result in £5000 fine and 2 years in jail) so need to find another solution.  It’s so hot by the time we are finished in town that we walk all the way back along the beach, in the nude.  Take lots of cooling dips in the sea during the heat of the afternoon.



WEDNESDAY 23 MARCH – Hot again so lots more swims.  A Dutch motorhome arrives and parks up intending staying for a week.  I join the others for an evening shopping trip to Villa Verde in Andy’s van.  The petrol station at La Olivia now has a pipe on the water tap so we all fill up containers.  Later in the evening an old Spanish camper van parks down by the bunkers along with a few cars from which people emerge with tents.



THURSDAY 24 MARCH – The first day of the “Semana Santa” 4 day holiday for Spain.   There’s a steady stream of traffic as we walk to town.  Using Internet and telephone we confirm that the £500 van deposit is cleared and that Jane & Stewart will accept it without us backdating the sale date.  Book a flight from Faro to Manchester for the evening of Tuesday 12th April.  The town is chock a block with motorhomes in the streets and tourists in the shops and there’s a real holiday feel enhanced by the glorious sunshine.  Sit out most of the day feeling like we are on a British beach on a hot sunny day as there are so many people around.  The Police call early evening and speak to the people in tents but ignore us.



FRIDAY 25 MARCH – Hotter and busier than ever.  More vans arrive and also a caravan whilst the tents move off the beach.  It’s so hot that we take shade under the awning in the afternoon.  I visit the Dutch people Piet and Maria to gather information for future use about motorhoming in Mexico and Belize.



SATURDAY 26 MARCH – At 8am we set out to walk up to the lighthouse to check out the camping area, jam packed with mainly caravans and tents.   Again a hot day and busy on the beach.  With a full moon the tide is again high and the waves mesmerising.  We join Andy & Chris and John & Maureen for an evening BBQ.  They have just got the fire going when the Police arrive and begin to move everyone on.  We also learn that having fires on the beach is illegal so we quickly make our exit.  Regroup in the village on the back road near the church.  After eating our sausages for starters in Andy’s van we have the rest of the meal in ours. 



SUNDAY 27 MARCH – Even with the clocks going forward by an hour we are still up and ready to return to the beach before 8am.  A motorhome, small camper and tent have obviously stayed there overnight as have all the rest of the vehicles further up the coast.  It seems like the Police treat it as a bit of a game and blitz certain areas from time to time.  Dutch Piet, who is fluent in Spanish, says the Police told him that the car park was for cars only but motorhomes could park on the road (this ends by the houses) during the day but must move to the far side of the main road overnight.  Failure to do all this would result in a €60 fine.  We park at the far side of the houses and are soon joined by Norman & Lesley a couple from Devon.  Spend most of the morning chatting to them as we have lots in common.  They buy Hymer motorhomes in Germany and within 1 year they sell them in England and either break even or make a profit  Needless to say this is the kind of information we store for future reference.  A bit later Spud the dog comes hurtling round,  Terri has parked where we normally go and can’t find us but Spud has no problem sniffing us out!  It’s a very dusty spot with cars travelling past at speed so I am quite happy to move into town early afternoon.  The tide is spectacularly high again and the road by the old harbour is flooded by the big waves.  Enjoy our last Sunday lunch at “The Last” whilst Steve watches the special charity football match in aid of the tsunami victims – Liverpool legends versus celebrities.  Post match we take up a parking spot by the new hotels and directly behind the beach.  It’s against what the Police said but Norman & Lesley stayed last night without problems.



MONDAY 28 MARCH – It’s barely light when the building site comes to life at 7.30am.  After 10 minutes of listening to cement mixers and other equipment we give up trying to sleep and return to “our spot”.  Locals at the pub reckon that now the Spanish holiday is over we should have no trouble staying there.  After spending the day relaxing, sunbathing then all playing boules, we hedge our bets and move just to the other side of the main road.



TUESDAY 29 MARCH – Back to our usual spot.  All the other vans pile in after us.  Get an E-mail from Jane to confirm our rendezvous on 11th April in Tavira where they have booked into a hotel.  Happy hour at our place after Steve has played boules.  During the conversation Andy asks some questions about our engine and we mention that it has never failed to start first time.  They leave to drive back to town and we pack up to move over the road.  Steve goes to start the engine but nothing happens.  The lights are bright so the battery seems OK but when he turns the key we just get a clicking sound.  John has a quick look at the obvious but can shed no light on the problem.  It’s almost dark so we decide to stay put for the night and investigate further in daylight.  Hope the Police don’t come round and think we have rigged a fault to avoid moving for the night! 



WEDNESDAY 30 MARCH – Steve’s up at first light pottering around in the engine.  If the starter motor is at fault we have a really big problem as we are booked on the ferry from Lanzarote next Wednesday.  After tightening all connections the engine still won’t start, nor will the generator.  Steve walks to town to borrow jump leads from the garage.  He returns with John & Maureen but neither they nor Andy & Chris can jump start us as their engine batteries are inaccessible.  The men chew over all possibilities and establish that both engine batteries read 12.1 and that should be enough to start the motor so the problem must be elsewhere.  We are still keen to eliminate the batteries so Steve goes over to ask a truck driver if he can help.  At this point I decide to give the generator another try and it fires first time.  I don’t think it charges the engine batteries but they do seem to be at a higher level already.  Just as the truck pulls up I give the engine a shot and blissfully it starts.  Needless to say we leave it running.  We’ve been parked in this spot for 30 nights and with the exception of a couple of short trips into El Cotillo we have put nothing into the batteries whilst using the radio and occasionally the 12v kettle.  I now think that this has been the problem but the others are not convinced.  In view of this we decide to give Charlie a run to Corralejo stopping to dump, return the jump leads, get water from Terri’s and say our Farewells in case we don’t return – all done with the motor running!  Whilst saying Good-bye to the people in the last Steve learns that the best garage on the island to deal with starter motor problems is actually the one in El Cotillo.  We drive back to park in town and mull over what to do.  Pull up and spot Norman & Lesley who are having a coffee in the German bakery and ask us to join them.  Stop and start the engine a couple of times with no problems so a drink and a chat are in order.  By the time we leave we have just about convinced ourselves that the problem is solved so head off to Corralejo.  Do a load of washing at the Lobos Bahia Club before parking by the beach on the headland.  The area is pretty scruffy and the few bunkers are filled with rubbish after the Easter holiday campers.  In the evening we move on to the port and meet Ron in his Hymer, a friends of Norman and Lesley.  A last meal at the Chinese then I walk back to the van leaving Steve to watch football. 



THURSDAY 31 MARCH – We’re both awake at 7.40 so throw on some clothes and drive up to the port to catch the Armas ferry to Playa Blanca on LANZAROTE, €44.93 (£31.50).  Head up the west coast and breakfast on the car park at Los Hervideros (hot beds).  There’s a marked walk here taking you through the lava where it flows out into the ocean.  Erosion has created many caves and blow holes and it’s extremely interesting as side tracks take you right down to these areas.  A bit further up the coast we stop at El Golfo.  Behind the black gravel beach is a small green lake, originally the centre of a volcanic crater but the walls on one side have been completely eroded by the sea.  It looks lovely in the brochures and sounds interesting but we are not impressed.  Continue our drive through lava fields that look very raw and recent even though the last eruption was in 1824.  Turn off to visit Timanfaya National Park, €8 (£5.60) per person.  For this we are allowed to drive into the park and up to the visitor area where there are demonstrations showing the heat of the still active volcano.  First you are handed some gravel from a few inches below the surface and it is feels really hot.  Next they show how straw combusts from the heat of the earth and finally we see water poured into a hole before erupting as steam just 3 seconds later.  The panoramic restaurant cooks all it’s meat over a pit heated by the volcano.  Admission includes a 14km bus tour taking you higher,  past and into dormant craters.  There are some superb rock formations and I am amazed to learn that the 1730 eruption lasted for 6 years.  Back to the main road then along to the visitor centre where there is quite a lot to see and a film to watch so we combine it all with our lunch stop.  Heading north east we emerge from the lava beds and see interesting farming with lava rocks built into wind break formations for plants.  Rejoin the coast at the small village of Famara and turn left before noticing that the only beach is the other way.  Back track and find a pleasant but busy sandy beach with a narrow road behind it.  Further along the road turns inland up the hill and behind the Famara holiday development.  It continues as a track and drops back to the coast where we find a number of cars and vans parked and lots of surfers in the water.  The beach is narrower here and further along peters out to be replaced by black boulders.  Not a patch on El Cotillo but it will do us for the rest of the day and overnight.  Steve is forced into the van late afternoon when midges set upon him.  All the other vehicles leave before dark.  We now realise just how noisy the sea is and that we are under a flight path.  Add to that the fact that we won’t get any sun here until late morning because of the high mountain and I reckon we will be moving on.



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