Friday, 1 February 2013

Goodness Gracious and Bags of Fun

No holiday is ever complete without its day of disasters. Ours was yesterday, which ironically was also the day of one of the best trips we’ve had since we arrived.

We travelled to the north of Lanzarote where we caught a ferry to the neighbouring island of La Graciosa, the gracious one. A well-named place. The ferry arrives in a little harbour scattered with fishing boats and surrounded by white painted houses with dark blue doors and window frames. We had some excellent fish at a dockside café, and that’s not as unsurprising as it may sound: I’ve been to many a fishing port which sells all its produce to some distant metropolis and only serves local diners the stuff it gets back, processed and in packets. 

White and Blue, the colours of Caleta de Sebo houses on La Graciosa

La Graciosa’s only vehicles are a small number of SUVs providing taxi services. Otherwise, the only way of getting around is by bike or on foot. So I enjoyed the chance to confirm again just how awful hired bikes tend to be. If I’d ever forgotten, yesterday would have given me plenty of reminders of how to put a bike chain back in place.

Getting around La Graciosa
The only one who avoided the dreaded hire bike was my son Nicky who used his own, but he earned that privilege by riding the 70 km to the ferry terminal at Órzola, a price rather higher than I’d have been prepared to pay.

The beach on the other side of the island was quite spectacular enough to compensate us for the effort of cycling the six kilometres to get there on lousy bikes. 

Las Conchas: worth the ride even on hire bikes

Nothing dull about the sea on Las Conchas beach

An attractive aspect of the island is that that you feel safe from any kind of crime – with only the ferry to get on or off it, sneaking stolen property away is quite hard – so we just dumped our bikes and bags in a pile at the top of the beach.

One of our company who, to spare her blushes, I shan’t name as my wife Danielle, was so excited at the sight of the sea (something we only enjoy a couple of dozen times a day on Lanzarote), that she rushed down to the water’s edge with squeals of excitement and dumped her bag there. As a result, when we prepared to leave, all bags were in the communal pile bar hers. 

Consternation ensued. How awful. Had crime struck after all? Nicky leapt onto his super-bike and headed back towards the port, ready to intercept any dastardly criminal and recover his Mum’s property.

Only after he’d set off did she discover that the bag was still on the beach. Not of course where she’d left it, well below the tideline, but where the sea had dumped it, refreshingly damp through and through. I can confirm that Euro notes can be died a pleasant pink if you put them in a red leather wallet and soak it in sea water.

Half a dozen people texted or phoned Nicky to tell him his mission was no longer necessary. By then though, with his powerful legs and his super-cycle, he was nearly back at the village. He dismounted and waited for the rest of the party to catch him up. The whole group then headed back to our café for a restorative drink.

The boat was already at the dockside, a couple of minutes walk away.

‘Can we get there on time?’ I asked, indulging a misguided sense of irony, when we still had a quarter of an hour to go.

My son David gauged the distance by eye. ‘If you hop backwards on one leg you might run out of time.’

I decided to put his proposition to the test and started hopping backwards. The problem with that form of locomotion is that you can’t see what’s behind you. I’d only taken half a dozen hops when I collided with the café’s cast iron sign and opened up my ankle.

Fortunately, attention was swiftly distracted from my self-inflicted injury by Nicky’s anguished cry ‘where’s my bag?’ It felt like a particularly unhappy case of déjà vu. Not surely another bag gone missing?

Then it all came back to him. When he’d dismounted to wait for the rest of the group to catch up he’d put his bag on the ground, and there it had remained.

La Graciosa is, however, indeed an honest place, and when he’d sped back on the super-bike at super-speed, he found the bag still there. On the other hand, time and tide and apparently La Graciosa ferries wait for no man. The crew delayed as long as it could but the boat had to clear the berth to make way for the next one coming in, only seconds before Nicky reappeared on the dockside.

Fortunately, Nicky’s partner Nicola (yes, we call them collectively Nick-Nick) was able to swap their tickets for that ferry with a couple who had tickets for the next. So in the end little harm was done and we only had a half hour wait for the whole party to be reunited, bags, bike and all. Just time for a coffee in yet another dockside café.

The ferry crossing: part of the fun. 
Even if we had to split the party into two for the return
Disasters without serious consequences: that’s pretty good for a holiday. On balance, La Graciosa gave us a magical day: much to delight in, nothing to complain about, a little to laugh over.

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