Exploring the tranquil villages and stunning beaches of Fuerteventura, the quiet volcanic island with landscapes cut from a Star Wars movie.
The Wonders of Social Media
During our trip to Fuerteventura, I was still in the tedious process of getting my driving licence, and my mum is usually quite anxious to drive abroad, so this road trip happened due to pure serendipity.
Before we left for the island, as we were looking at airport transfer options, I asked for advice in a Hungarian travel group on Facebook, and received a great recommendation for an inexpensive transfer bus. The service happened to include a Hungarian tour guide, who came to see us and another Hungarian couple from the neighbouring hotel the next day to give us some tips and offer some tours around the island. After she explained the organised group excursion costing 75 euros per person in detail, we soon realised that we all wanted to skip the group and check out the three same things, and that renting a car for 40 euros (10 each) would be a lot cheaper of a way to do it – so we did. People we’d have never met if I hadn’t posted in that Facebook group, now became great friends we spent a crazy amazing day with.
Prepared for the windy weather, we left our home base in Morro Jable in long jeans and long sleeved shirts, but had my with shorts and a bikini peeking out of my bag, waiting for the sun to get a little higher.
And so we left, on the beautiful, new, wide motorway, and made our way North. The island looks like Nasa could’ve filmed the Moon landing on it with its endless, desert grey mountains, or that Han Solo could pop out from behind one of the hills (no wonder the latest Star Wars movie was filmed here).
Apart from a few destinations we had planned for, we were very flexible, and stopped whenever we saw something exciting. About half an hour in, we had to stop and hike up to this breathtaking viewpoint by the road. Pictures just don’t do justice to the view; to the these heights, this depth, to the goats balancing on the vertical slopes… to the audible silence.
We didn’t plan on doing much in Pájara so just drove by its beautiful church, but still managed to see a bit of the charming village – it’s worth a stop if you’re nearby.
Betancuria: Perfection within Simplicity
Our first stop was Betancuria, the old capital of the island. We recharged with a coffee, a ride in a swing, then a walk around. It was your average little Mediterranean village with white-washed houses, palm tress and Bougainvillea, a church, and the obligatory souvenir shop. There wasn’t anything extraordinary about it, yet, it somehow still felt special. Maybe it was the elderly man playing soft melodies on his guitar, but a wave of emotions washed over me, and I felt my eyes welling over with tears. It was one of those inexplicable moments where I felt that time stood still for a second, and life seemed so uncomplicated, so raw, so beautiful.
Driving north, we couldn’t help but wonder at the extremely developed infrastructure. Impeccable roads and signs, playgrounds and dog parks, well-groomed symmetrical little villages. Yet, all we saw were the mountains and houses, and no sign of people actually living here or using these infrastructures. The roads were empty apart from a few dozen cars.
No sign of a school, or building that implied a workplace, which left us wondering what people actually do here. Sure, many of them may be commuting to coastal towns to work within the tourism sector, but it was odd to see these uniform houses with no market, shop, school, or workplace nearby, nestled in the desert hills, bordered by the highway, hundreds of kilometres away from the ocean, which is the reason people choose to come here in the first place.
Corralejo: Sand Dunes and Tourists
Corralejo is the most popular city for tourists and families, full of resorts, bars, restaurants, shops, and nightlife. It was way too busy for us, and the beach in the city centre was a dirty harbour with construction works going on. It was good to stop at a games arcade for a wee, but we ran away soon after. A few kilometres away, however, are the dunes of Corralejo, where the water is a stunning shade of turquoise. It’s a wind surfer’s paradise, but the beach was still relatively empty. We lay in the sand and gobbled our kaki-portion for the day, then frolicked around in the water and ran up and down in the sand in utter joy despite the many clouds.
We did go back to the city to fill the car’s tummy with gas, and ours, with more snacks. The local Dino supermarket was our solution for more kakis, and family size potato crisps of the supermarket’s own brand. I remember clattering back to the car in my flip-flops, the salt of the crisps burning the sides of my lips, my skin sticky from the sea salt, giddily laughing into the ether, and being so, so very happy.
El Cotillo: Where the Sun Sets
The day came to a beautiful end with a sunset in El Cotillo. Others must’ve heard the gossip as well that this is the sunset-watching spot, because by the time we arrived, couples and families had lined up their cars on the cliff as if it was a drive-in cinema. Some bundled up and sat on benches, while others waited by their cars.
Thick layers of clouds obstructed the view, but there was a fine line between the sea and the clouds where the peach-coloured sky peeked through. We made ourselves comfortable on the cliff perching over the sea, and just listened to the meditative sound of the waves crashing into the rocks, and watched the orange rays burning up the coast.
After a while, the Sun appeared in the narrow gap for a mere few seconds before it sank into the ocean. We all marveled at this everyday miracle in silence; at the way nature, almost theatrically, drew the curtains after the spectacular show that was our day.