Lanzarote Day 2: 70kms

Walter Raleigh, Malvasia and (unbelievably) rain!

Wanting to explore all parts of Lanzarote forced me to commit the ‘mortal sin’ of setting off for the day’s ride with the 25mph wind at my back. Why mortal? Because, although the outward ride would be a ‘breeze’, the journey back to base (Costa Teguise) was going to kill me…..and it did, because added to it was horizontal rain, which drove me to take shelter behind a bushy cactus, known locally as a ‘chumbera’ or ‘tunera’ (prickly pear)…..and that was a veritably prickly experience.

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But then I was happily waylaid by an excellent museum in the Castillo de San Gabriel, in Arrecife (capital) and not only learned much about the history of the island, but discovered that our famous Sir Walter Raleigh himself had tried to invade Lanzarote, and the islanders had successfully hidden in the huge complex of  volcanic caves. Raleigh sailed off having achieved nothing, because he had been under strict instructions from James I not to harm any of the islanders. I can imagine his frustration….poor chap.

Castillo de San Gabriel

Castillo de San Gabriel

When I got as far south as Puerto Calero, I came across this stunning field of meadow flowers, growing abundantly out of the volcanic ash.

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….and not just wild flowers, but also a very special vine, that produces the Malvasia grape, and thrives in little dugouts in the volcanic ash, capturing moisture from night time dew for irrigation. Because it rains so little here (except for today, of course), this is an ingenious method of cultivating anything in this lunar landscape.

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If you haven’t sampled a Malvasia wine, hunt it out. It will be worth the effort, believe me.el-grifo-coleccion-malvasia-seco-lanzarote-spain-10305720

About Frank Burns

My journeys around the world are less about riding a bicycle, and more about what happens when I get off the bicycle. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on January 25, 2015, in Cycling Lanzarote and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Frank, do you know the story of the prickly pear in Australia?

    Someone in the 19th century thought it would make a cheap and attractive agricultural fence and introduced it to Queensland. Before long it had taken over much of the state. Fortunately in the 1920s someone else introduced the cactoblastus beetle that managed to control it without destroying native species. A narrow escape!

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  2. Very interesting Richard. In Lanzarote, on the other hand, in the days before synthetic colours, the prickly pear was the host plant for the cochineal beetle, the dye from which was the mainstay of the island’s economy for many years. http://www.uniquelanzarotevillas.co.uk/blog/2012/07/dye-another-day-lanzarote%C2%B4s-cochineal-industry/

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