Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Discovering Lanzarote: Sneak Peak Article

Here's a little glimpse of why I'm in love with this island, soon to come on The Spain Scoop. 

Island Life- Finding Inspiration on Lanzarote

Enjoying the view of La Graciosa

The island of Lanzarote, part of the Canary Island chain off the coast of Africa, is a hidden gem of the Atlantic, a place of great wonder, beauty, and inspiration, from the volcanic landscape to the eccentric outsiders that flock to its energy.  Many, like me, are initially drawn in by the lure of a tiny island with good weather, pretty beaches, and outdoor excursions.  But shortly after arriving it is clear that this is not your typical tropical vacation. 

The landscape is one of a different planet, with the Mars-like skyline consisting of craters, erupted volcanoes, and hills of hardened lava.   The sides of the ridges are coated with layers of cooled magma, creating a glow of reds, oranges, and browns streaking down the sides and taking on different appearances, depending on the sun’s influence.  The massive peaks that once acted as lids to the volcanoes have exploded, leaving hollowed craters of crumbled rock with caves and deep scars engraved throughout the surface.  The ground below is covered with lava flow that goes on for miles, small villages carved out among it, with single plots leveled out to farm the fertile land.

The volcanic flow in the National Park

The beaches that surround the island are another thing of amazement.  Even the eastern, more populated portion of the island that is littered with tourists and accommodating shops, bars, and hotels, has the same breath-taking shorelines as the less touched, more local western side of the island.  In the south, attracting locals and experienced vacationers are five hidden white sand beaches of Papagayo, only accessible through bumpy dirt roads.  In the northern town of Orzola you can find lagoons of shallow clear water, placid and expansive, for a different type of relaxing day at the beach.  Fishing villages like Punta Mujeres or La Santa quietly boast the islands beauty with their black rock shorelines greeting rolling aqua blue water.

Punta Mujeres 

Rapidly becoming my favorite place to be on the island is the small village of Famara on the western shore.  This surfer’s paradise is often the inspiration for great artistic conceptions due to the towering cliffs that frame the shoreline and the neighboring island of La Graciosa that is in clear view.  Among these inspired individuals is the island’s most influential artist, Cesar Manrique, responsible for the uniform white stucco homes with signature green, blue, or brown doors and window frames among other unique artistic charms that add to Lanzarote’s aesthetic appeal.  The imprint of his influence can be felt throughout the island as his value to harmonize nature’s beauty into his artwork strongly contributes to the preservation of the landscape today.

The awe inspiring cliffs of Famara

While it is true that there are foreign neighborhoods spawning off of the many German and English that flock here for the sun, and the herds of tourists that arrive merely to lie on the beach and play in their resorts, the island also has a growing population of people from around the world that stay here to embrace the undeniable energy that this island radiates.  From painters and musicians to doctors and healers, there seems to be an underlying appreciation for the tranquil vibes that are likewise so alive with vigor.  Simply being here seems to have its own healing power, alleviating day to day stresses and clearing a path for creative thinking and inner contentment. 

My artistic interpretation of la playa

It’s still difficult for me to place what exactly it is about sitting on a piece of volcanic land floating out in the Atlantic that feeds the soul like no other place I have visited has, but there is no doubt that the sensation is universally felt.  Whether I am experiencing this Canary Island among the singing, happy locals at a village cafe, alone in the countryside watching the midday sun shining down on the rolling hills, or curled up on the beach on a crisp evening, gazing up at the dome of brilliant twinkling stars while sharing inspired revelations with another ex-patriot, it is clear to me that I have discovered a magical gem that is Lanzarote.

Happy, singing locals

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