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Forever spring: Weather and breathtaking sights are consistent on Lanzarote, in the Canary Islands

Charlene Peters
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The volcanic vineyards of Lanzarote.

I had never known such beauty existed in an exotic land that emerged so long ago (500 B.C.).

On a Spanish island, at the northernmost and easternmost of the autonomous Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean, I arrived in Lanzarote. A day later, I stood in a volcano 40 meters deep inside the peridot-saturated Cueva de los Verdes. Although year-round temperatures reflect spring, a chill consumed me within this humid interior.

My head bent to avoid the low stone ceiling, and with careful footing, I braved forward to explore the mineral structures in these tunnels carved out by artist Jesus Soto. There were crawl spaces in some places, while other spots soared in ceiling height. Midway was an area of tall space furnished with folding chairs for the occasional concert — with a capacity to hold 400 people and phenomenal acoustics.

As I trudged through the lava tube, our tour leader instructed everyone to stay put; two feet in front was the mouth of a hollow pit. While the guide cautioned us not to move an inch, he picked up a nearby rock and threw it into the hole, but within a half-second there was a splash. What we viewed as a bottomless pit was actually a shallow pool of drippings from above — the reflection of the volcano spout. When the water is still, it simply looks like a hole.

Days earlier, upon my arrival to the Arrecife Gran Hotel, I leaned with elbows perched on a stone wall just outside one skyscraper in Lanzarote to view the coastline that carried my vision toward the peculiar sight of “calima,” a blanket of fog-like African dust that wades across the sea to filter what would be a perfect view of Morocco.

The subtle, yet abundant flora of Lanzarote complements stretches of white-, gold- and black-sand beaches from the north and south, all connecting to impressive views of rock formations knifing out from the waves. And then there’s Timanfaya, a national park in the Fire Mountains open for touring since 1972, covered with voluminous volcanic structures and a breathtaking scene where a trail of camels offers humpback rides for the ultimate view of a vista extraordinaire.

My own adventure was a nod to the past, perched atop a camel for a solo ride in the desert. Despite the harsh leash tugs from its master, who led the way by foot, my camel stubbornly won in a few stops for a bite of nature’s treats. On the saddle strapped behind its second hump, I barely maintained balance while my camel fluttered its eyelashes and, with a scoop of its head, dipped into a dried-up Tabaiba bush, cracking branches filled with thorns and shoveling them in its cheeks while simultaneously munching on them like a handful of potato chips.

Lanzarote is a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve and one of the seven paradisiac Canary Islands off the coast of Spain — and the one warm-weather destination close enough to jet from Europe or the U.K. to escape the dark and chilly days of winter. The weather is ever spring-like in Lanzarote, thanks to its location. The climate attracts kite- and wind-surf enthusiasts, and the island’s swerved roads serve Tour de France athletes in training.

A drive past the lava river (last earthquake: Sept. 1, 1730) with my tour guide led to an explanation of Lanzarote’s past, when women would use their heads to carry fresh-caught fish wrapped in burlap bags. Upon arrival to Castillo de San José in Arrecife, I could imagine these women carrying their dinner home. Better yet, in today’s world, it’s perfection to dine on fresh-caught fish at the castle’s restaurant, located on a cliff with an army of cacti guarding the structure. Inside, the decor blends with what is found outside, thanks to the vision of architect genius César Manrique. The columns that hold the structure in place are made of volcanic rock, and the wooden floor panels are complemented with strips of volcanic rock.

Much of my lunch consisted of the Atlantic’s offerings served seaside with a wall of windows as my only separation from the ocean. I felt like I was viewing an aquarium — or that I was inside as part of the aquarium, dependent upon the observer.

My next dinner continued in its theme of Spanish roots; a glass of cava was poured while I gazed out at the Playa Blanca sunset on the deck of the Isla de Lobos restaurant, part of the five-star luxury property Princesa Yaiza, sited in an old fishing village. The aroma of honeysuckle intoxicated the air and the ocean’s waves washed in like soft music. Happiness.

Charlene Peters is a travel/food writer with a passion to explore indigenous dishes around the world. Email SipTripper@gmail.com.

Tuna tartar caviar served in a sardine can at the Isla de Lobos restaurant.