In order to make a few stops along the way, we leave Rubicon about 1 week before we were supposed to arrive in Las Palmas. We take the route east of Fuerteventura and the first port is Gran Tarajal, barely 50 nautical miles from Rubicon.
We get a nice sail in 10-20 knots of wind from the north and arrive after 8 hours of sailing and a little motoring. Fuerteventura’s east coast is low-lying in the north with a lot of sandy beaches. Closer to Gran Tarajal, the coast becomes steep with high cliffs plunging into the sea with interspersed small sandy beaches, a bit like the Algarve coast in Portugal. During the day, we pass the island’s capital, Puerto Rossario, and the airport just south of the city. We also see some verdant hotel complexes in the middle of the desert landscape.
We are assigned a dock on the inside of the pier which seems protected from the swell outside. But unfortunately, the boat pulls quite hard on the moorings anyway. Luckily we have plenty of room on the sides and can put up a rope that holds the boat off from the jetty.
We enter in the middle of a music festival
After the log book is updated and the anchor schnapps is enjoyed, we head into town for a bite to eat. It’s about 1km to walk, but unfortunately all the restaurants along the promenade are closed and they are building temporary bars instead. We have to look for a restaurant elsewhere in town.
On the beach, they build a giant stage surrounded by large speakers. Wondering what will happen here?
From the posters we see around town, we conclude that the biggest music festival of the year will be held here this weekend.
A few blocks from the beach we find a small bar that is open and serves food in the late afternoon. Otherwise, it is common for the restaurant kitchen to close in the afternoon and open before eight or nine in the evening.
There weren’t that many dishes to choose from. They had seafood paella which we order and it tasted good despite the plastic plates it was served on.
On several of the houses in the city there are large murals that face large open spaces. We think the paintings are beautiful and give life to otherwise bare walls without windows. I think the murals are a hallmark of Gran Tarajal.
The fiesta begins
When the sun has set and darkness begins to fall, all the bars are ready and the final sound checks are done on the sound system. I hear they can play loud if they want, we’ll see how the sound level turns out tonight. It is only one kilometer across the water to our boat in the guest harbor.
Not until after eight o’clock in the evening have many people started to arrive. There are probably several thousand people on the beach and a throng of people on the promenade with long queues to buy fast food, beer, wine and drinks.
During the evening, two or three different bands have replaced each other and they haven’t played a single song that we recognised, strange!
We were up extra early today to have time to sail here, and we get really tired already at ten in the evening. Going back to Sally, we see how more people continue to come to the festival. We sit for a while in the cockpit and listen to the music, but in the end we are so tired that we go to bed and tries to sleep.
It’s not easy to fall asleep! At one o’clock in the morning, a disc jockey enters the stage and we get to lie down and listen to Spanish party music that pours out of the speakers far away until four five in the morning. The high volume makes the whole boat vibrate to the bass notes and the eardrums protest when the treble gets too strong.
Daily life again
Saturday we get to sleep in, but not for any length of time because I have to go to the port office and check in. We have already seen most of the city and after checking in I do a little hike up the mountain south of the port.
I could tell that apart from a nice view of the Gran Tarajal and some cubist architecture, the landscape really looked burnt by the sun with sparse vegetation.
Fuerteventura is close to Africa and here in Gran Tarajal we are reminded of this. On the pier where we are moored, there is one of the Red Cross containers and we assume it is used when they need to take care of boat refugees. At the jetty is a large rubber raft that probably had refugees on board and was taken care of here a week or so before we got here (I assume the date on the dinghy indicates when it arrived here).
When sailing in these waters, we sometimes hear the Coast Guard announce that someone has spotted boat refugees and they urge everyone to be on the lookout and report any sightings. We have not yet targeted any boat refugees during our sailings along the coast of Africa.
We continue down to Morro Jable in the south of Fuerteventura where we will spend a few days and get a little nostalgic. We were there on a charter trip in 1991, at the beginning of the development of hotels on the beach.
We’ll see if we recognize each other!
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