Sunday, 9 February 2020

More geo-holiday notes..

We drove across some very windy peaks and stopped at a specific lookout point that quite literally took my breath away.
El Mirador is high up and hacked out of the sea facing side of a volcano. That is a given really, on Lanzarote. It was so windy on the balcony that it made us stagger. It was so high that it made us both wobble. All my photos are long shots; braver souls were leaning over the balcony to get shots of the sheer drop, but that’s not in this wonky balanced woman anymore. 
Look at that for a view, and the beautiful clear sky. So beautiful. That far land is an island called La Graciosa, only achievable by ferry and that millpond looking water is deceiving from this height, let me tell you! In the foreground you see (another) lava field sweeping down to the sea. And the lagoon-ish looking area is a salt lake, for the cultivation of the farm on the left of it...a salt farm, waiting to be flooded. Believe me, if the wind can accelerate the evaporation at all, it’ll be producing in half the time. Perhaps that’s why they bothered to remove I don’t know how many tonnes of the sharp, slightly smelly, misshapen lava rocks. I was expecting it all to be smooth, as if the molten lava cooled in its round, rolling form. Not all the time, apparently.

We went to the Cueva de las Verdes too. Now that is a magic place to show off the way lava behaves. It’s actually a tunnel, about 6 kilometres I think they said in the tour. Formed along a valley running from the foot of a volcano to the sea. 2000 years ago, the Corona volcano erupted, molten lava filled the valley and flowed into the sea. The top most surface cooled faster than the moving lava inside the valley and so created a long tunnel like cavern. It is extraordinary. You can only take a tour of the tunnel, at the land end it’s about a 1 kilometre walk through some wide tunnels and massive caverns. It was eerie, beautiful, sensational. At some points there were narrow steps to climb, quite low ‘ceilings’ and uneven floors. They were flat and easy to walk, man made in the name of tourism, but sloping in all directions sometimes. 
Of course, it was dark down there (artfully lit, actually) and really rather warmer than I thought it would be. There’s no water, they aren’t the dripping or stalactite forming caves...the lava was too hot to allow even remnants of moisture. Although there are areas where there are clear drips of lava that have cooled before splashing off the ceiling. Fascinating.
There’s a grand chamber where the floor has been polished and chairs set up. They use it for concerts, mostly classical. I don’t know if it’s clear from the photo, the lighting may be artful but we weren’t allowed to use flash photography. The tour was really good, and ended sensationally, I recommend you visit if you’re ever on Lanzarote. Although being in the dark on sloping surfaces is a huge challenge for my balance, it was well worth it...’specially as Mr Dunnit held my hand or had his arm round my waist nearly all the way; we must have looked like honeymooners!  We were keen to go to the seaside end of the tunnel and take the tour there too, but time got away from us. That right there is a statement of intent to return. One last thing.. green caves. There was very little green about them, certainly not in terms of rock colour or sediment, although there were some very large leaves in the cool shade at the tunnel entrance! The caves are named Verdes after the farming family that discovered them whilst herding their sheep on what turned out to be a 2000 year old tunnel roof. I love that they are to be forever remembered in the story.


Helen said...

What a fascinating post and it sounds a wonderful place! I'm coming with you when you go back.... lol . Can't say I blame you for not hanging over the balcony in the name of photography! am hunkering down today from the extreme wind so can imagine what it must have felt like.

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

Your photos are absolutely amazing. What you don't show in photos, you convey in words that form the imagery of Lanzarote, a place so desolate looking it is incredible. The sheer beauty of the long shots give one the idea of how sparse and nearly uninhabitable it must be to live there.

Your visit to Cureva de las Verdes was incredible. I loved the phrase "man made in the name of tourism." They must capitalize on the tourist trade, because this is not your normal, everyday place to visit. The artificial lighting in the cave made me think of molten lava. SO unlike caves I've been to in the States.

That last photo in the grand chamber reminded me of an abstract painting. Of course, it is one only mother nature could have created, but you captured it perfectly. I love, love, love your off the beaten path holiday and going places I've not ever heard of before, but realize I will never go there in my lifetime, either.

Kathryn Frantz said...

Wow, Julia! Amazing! What an experience! Thank you for sharing it with me.

Darnell said...

Thank you for taking us with you, Julia! It looks really amazing and incredible! It's right up Mister Geologist's alley. I wish your photos could be clicked to enlarge for a closer view, but you described everything beautifully with your words! Hugs, Darnell

Kelly said...

Thanks for taking us on your holiday. Gorgeous pictures. Hugs! Kel

Ali Wade Designs said...

We visited both when we went to Lanzarote a few years ago. I fell in love with the island and would buy a property there immediately if I won the Lottery! Unfortunately, hubby would get bored by cycling around the island, so we have settled on mainland Spain for future living (not a problem really, as I love all of Spain). I do hope to go back to Lanzarote for a holiday one day. Ali x