17.01.2007 23 °C
I have just had a fantastic week soaking up the sun, reading and exploring Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands. A cluster of several small volcanic islands located off the north-western coast of Africa (Morocco and the Western Sahara) the Canaries are a godsend to chilled Europeans looking to soak up a bit of vitamin D in the cold winter months.
The family had gone skiing in Austria, and so I had a week to do as I pleased and got a great deal off a last minute website. I was really struggling to decide where to go as it was a toss up of doing something cultural like going to some of the bigger cities in the north of Italy, Spain or perhaps the Czech Republic, or doing a trip around Belgium and Holland while staying with my sister or going somewhere warm like Egypt, Tunisia or Morroco. As January is not exactly the best month to be traveling around Europe weather-wise, the thought of going to museum after museum just didn’t appeal, and being a solo-western-woman traveling in countries, which have reputations of not exactly being the safest places in the world, I went with relaxing in the Spanish sun, naturally.
I stayed at a whopping 600+ room, 4 star resort called the Barcelo Jandia Playa, and although these massive tourist havens wouldn’t be my first choice to stay in normally, I figured it meant I might have more of a chance to meet some people to pass the time. I really don’t mind traveling by myself, and in some ways prefer it, simply for the reason you can do what you want when you want, with out constant compromise. But a little social interaction is always good, and keeps you sane, oh and it was “All Inclusive” to boot.
Now I hadn’t really thought much about what the island would be like, I just wanted to know if it was going to be warm, but what I had truly not expected was just how dry, desolate and barren the whole island was. Basically the only greenery on the island was imported, and was only clustered around the resorts. I stayed at the southern end of the island where the best beaches are, and they were really stunning. The water a beautiful turquoise, white sand and wind surfers out and about, it really did look picture perfect. Oh and the odd naked German thrown in for the hell of it. Yup, pretty much all of the beach in front of the resort I was staying at was ‘au naturale’.
Thankfully there weren’t actually that many nudists around, most were off frolicking in the sand dunes, and out of everyone’s way. The island is pretty saturated in tourists, and everywhere has not only Spanish and English signs, but also German, French and Italian. In fact, knowing the little German that I do, was more helpful most of the time than being a native English speaker. Simply because so many of the tourists are German, that people in shops and who worked at the resort could speak more German than they could English.
I basically spent my days sitting by the pool, reading. I virtually became a vegetarian the whole time I was away, as the meat in the buffet reminded me of my days at the halls of residence in first year Uni, but I never starved. I didn’t meet that many people, as firstly most guests were four decades older than me, and most weren’t exactly that outgoing. I stuck out like a sore thumb, and the constant staring just about drove me insane.
One thing these Europeans love to do, is people watch, and they treat it almost like a sport. When walking through the restaurant to get food, at the back of the massive room, or even just walking down the street, I felt like a gladiator having to run the gauntlet. You can feel all the beady little eyes on your back, and heads following your path, it was actually quite off putting but then again, they have absolutely nothing else to do - it’s just that they do it so obviously, that gets my goat up.
I wasn’t completely devoid of human contact during my time away however. I met a pretty friendly English couple and some nice Norwegians took me under their wing for a night. I dragged myself away from my books (I read three by the way) and did some Yoga and Pilates classes by the pool. And I also hired a car to tour around the island a bit. Although there’s not terribly much to see, as all the barren wasteland kind of blurs together, it was still worth it and pretty fascinating being somewhere which felt so unlivable, yet people somehow managed it.
I was really quiet lucky with the weather as I only had two days that were not so great, but still t-shirt weather, and I browned up a little. It was exactly the kind of holiday that I needed, not that my life’s all that hectic here in Germany anyway, but it was good to get some sun and chill out. Lots of people thought it was really random I would go away by myself, and the English couple thought I was so brave, which I thought was kind of odd. I simply don’t see the point of sitting at home moaning because no one could take the time off work, or could afford to go. I traveled around Italy in August by myself, and did my road trip around the North of Germany alone, and if anything it’s opened me up to doing things a little differently, and forcing myself to interact with people I possibly would have passed by if I’d been with someone else. It also makes me feel better, knowing that I’m not reliant upon other people to make me happy, its good for the soul, perhaps you should try it.