Jameso del Agua
A bar, restaurant, disco inside a volcanic lava tube that was designed by Ce'sar Manrique.
The next stop on our Canary Island hop was Lanzarote. It is also known as "Isla del Fuego" or Fire Island. With over 300 volcanic craters this is a most appropriate name. After the beautiful green ravines, lush mountain peaks, and cool climate of La Gomera this seemed like a very hot and barren volcanic island. While La Gomera was a rainbow of color, Lanzarote was a stark study of black and white.
The island did have a famous son, artist Ce'sar Manrique. This painter, sculptor, architect, town planner, interior decorator, naturalist, and art restorer greatly influenced the development and the look of Lanzarote. His mobiles are installations in the round abouts. The lack of billboards and high rise condos/hotels are due to his efforts. The creation of an entertainment complex within a 4 mile long lava tube was one of his many creative endeavors. Even the planning and the design of Timanfaya National Park was due to his creative genius and respect for the natural environment of Lanzarote.
Timanfaya National Park is the site of Montañas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) which erupted from 1730 to 1736. These volcanoes created an enormous lava field and buried 11 villages during
their 6 year long eruption. The surrounding villages that weren´t destroyed didn´t see the sun for an additional 6 years due to the thick ash clouds.
Bus tours wind along a road that was designed by Manrique when he sponsored the development of the park. He designed the road to curve in such a way that the road ahead and behind was only visible for a few feet. This made for natural looking views of the volcanoes and the lava fields in all directions. Along with the bus tour there were also camel rides into the park. With the Sahara desert a mere 60 miles to the east, we could almost imagine that we were traversing that famous desert.
A 4 mile lava tube, created from an eruption 5000 years ago, had 2 very different attactions within it. On one end was Jameos del Agua. This was a collection of bars, restaurants, dance floors, concert hall, underground pools, and gardens that Manrique designed within the first kilometer of the lava tube.
At the other end of the tube was a 1 kilometer natural park called Cueva de la Verdes. Here you could walk through the lava tube
to view the varying colored rock formations, solidified lava flows, underground salt water pools, and large chambers that were created as the lava flowed through the tube on its way to the ocean.
As strange as it may seem, Lanzarote is a major wine producing area. The grape vines are planted in the black volcanic soil and protected from the stong trade winds with low, semi-circle walls built from volcanic rocks. The moisture that collects during the night, due to condensation, is trapped in the porous volcanic rock which slows down the evaporation during the day. It´s an intricate process, with all the work done by hand, and the final product is a lovely tasting wine.
Beaches were limited on Lanzarote. But, Fuerteventura made up for that short coming with some of the most beautiful beaches we´ve seen in the Canary Islands. Bet you can´t guess how we spent our day, today.
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