An untamed land.

The lava slides down vertical surfaces.

1st October 2021

Rubicon, Lanzarote, Canaries – Papagayo, Lanzarote

Man has tamed many corners of the earth. In these places the landscape has been moulded to his whim and it seems to exist simply to supply his needs. Lanzarote is different, here man merely sits on top of the land, it seems to just tolerate his existence and with its rawness it could eject him whenever the urge took it.

Thinking that the land might eject us at any time, all the lessons that we learnt from the trip south were acted upon. Wobbly stairs were made unwobbly, unmonitored power was now monitored, chafed ropes were made unchaffed; unloved engines were given love; and the science project that is the SSB was scientized*.

After getting the modem back from Germany we’ve been many baby steps in getting the SSB working properly and in the marina, we happened to be sat next to an avid SSB user. So avid that they’d pulled emails in every untamed corner of the earth, from the ice of Antarctica to the jungles of the Amazon, and from the fabled north west passage to the legendary Drakes Channel in Patagonia. There was lots they knew and a lot we could learn.

Taking onboard all their advice, aerials were cleaned and connections remade, backstay standoff’s concocted and precariously installed. We could then run a test and yes we managed to clearly speak to a boat 8 feet away! We now just had to extend this to 1000 miles and add data to the mix!

Knowing that the land could eject us at any moment ‘Favorita’ gave us the opportunity to explore inshore. They’d managed* to hire the smallest car in the world and into it we crammed ourselves. Barnies 6’2’’ frame slipped into the driver’s seat and Iain’s bulk wedged itself firmly into the back. With Fiona and Lori then using the last of the space, the toy car was full of people and devoid of oxygen.

Driving along roads that had been precariously placed on top of the lava fields it was clear that this land had not been tamed. Crops which are normally in the soil, were perched on it; houses whose foundations are usually dug deep into the earth, were simply absent; and the only way to get into the earth itself was left over from the volcanoes which had made the surface so impenetrable.

As the lava had cooled and receded, deep tunnels were formed going to unfathomable depths and into one of these we headed. Descending, the darkness and silence was absolute as were the moments that were frozen in time. Droplets of lava hung from the ceilings and the walls we so smooth they looked like they could still be molten.

The silence was inescapable, our footfall was silent, our voices were hushed and then it dawned on us; there was no echoes. Any noise was being absorbed by the earth and we took this as just another sign that the land didn’t want is here.

Escaping from for the depths we all took to the hills, ahem volcanoes, to see where the lava erupted from. One of the volcanoes sat high above us and as lava crunched under our feet we scaled it’s summit. Far below us we could see what once would have been the bowels of hell. Time however had not tempered the environment and looking outwards it was clear that vineyards existed in spite of the black ‘soil’ rather than because of it.**

On land time stood still but on the sea things were changing daily. Boat after boat was arriving from the north and the social scene was thriving. We celebrated a big birthday for Barnie, a great trip for Cerulean and an equally big event for 8 year old Rory from Quickstep.

Rory has spent years watching his parent’s bike, run and swim their way to glory. He was now 8 days and 2 days old and was now mature enough to line up in ‘IronKid’ (If they’d had a 6 year old limit then the equally competitive Billi would have been next to his brother). As Sophie filled in the entry form Rory was beside himself with excitement and the disclaimer about coercing children into the event was totally redundant as Rory revelled in this ‘Bubb’ right of passage.***

Taking all the hints that this land is giving us and knowing that it cannot be tamed we have once again headed out to sea. At anchor in Papagaya we can watch the land from afar, Ruffian can feel at home in her environment and we can escape if the land wishes it.

* Due to the pandemic hire car companies have sold their fleets making hire cars are rare as chickens teeth.

** Massive thanks have to be sent to Favorita for sharing their sought-after car, enabling us to share Barnies birthday and taking us on legendary 5 star ‘Lori tours’.

*** It turns out Rory started as the youngest entry to IronKid with 700 others and came out of the swim in the lead pack. What a total legend. He’s definitely the son of Nick & Sophie.

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Author: Iain & Fiona Lewis

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