Tony spent an awful night coughing, I woke up feeling completely spaced, I`d had about three hours` sleep. I felt so wretched I had already decided not to do the trip but by the time I had cooked and eaten a breakfast of toast with a chorizo omelette and copious bowls of hot tea, (I used soup bowls for my early morning cuppa as there were only tiny cups in the cupboards which are no good at all) I took a bath and felt a lot better. I decided to go and in spite of it all, Tony came too.
It was a typical Canaries` day out, quite cool and cloudy which I was glad of as we would be walking that day. The first stop the coach made was at a monument built by the artist (sic) Cesar Manrique. A friend of Picasso`s he was clearly influenced by him as the impressive structure which he built to homage fishermen, is very cubist in design. We sat down at the monument`s restaurant, also financed by Manrique, for coffee and a delicious chocolate cake which we shared before moving on. The next stop was up on the top of some cliffs. Here, Manrique had built into the cliff side, a place where visitors can sit down and through a vast and panoramic window, take in amazing and breath taking views of the sea, 480 metres below. It really was stunning and we spent quite a long time just falling in love with the view.
After this we visited a place called Jameos del Agua which we quickly recalled visiting fifteen years ago in 1998. The place is famous because the caves there are host to a tiny, albino crab which isn`t found anywhere else in the world. The creatures are like little white specks on the rocks. As you leave you have to walk past the most beautiful swimming pool with shallow turquoise water and curved white walls designed and built by Manrique. His friends were often famous film stars like Sean Connery and Elizabeth Taylor and they used to swim there. I wanted to get into the water too but visitors aren`t allowed which is such a shame.
The coach moved on to Manrique`s world famous garden, it`s called Jardin de Cactus and I have to say it is extremely impressive with several hundred huge cacti on display from all over the globe. I took LOTS of pictures. Then we went for a buffet lunch.
The guide turned to face us as the coach bowled along, down the volcano side which was a bit scary. She said in a thick Spanish accent, “hwen we stop, here hyou will eat hall sorts of things you have never tasted before…..” I was excited!
It turned out to be salad and chips, very, very salty and cold lentil soup, chicken in a watery sauce, something in batter, I couldn`t really tell what it was it might have been fish once but in any event it was very old and rubbery and a paella which was all clumped together in ancient, sticky pieces. It was quite revolting and when we were served “red wine” it smelt like something you would clean your kitchen surfaces with. Even Tone didn`t attempt to drink it! If Gordon Ramsey had come in he would`ve closed the place down. “What the fuck!”
Our last stop was at Manrique`s home which he constructed and linked together out of five, enormous caves formed by a previous flow of lava. They were lava tunnels from some ancient volcanic eruption. It`s now an art museum displaying work of his and other famous artists like Miro. The caves have been plastered and like the pools are curved and tactile and whitewashed. They are on two levels with another fabulous swimming pool and gardens on the bottom level. It soon became clear from comment and conjecture that Manrique was a gay man. There is a definite air of gay nightclub about the caves and lots of photographs of him surrounded by gorgeous looking bronzed and adoring young men. “He had a girlfriend,” our guide comments as if reading our thoughts, “about forty years ago, but tragically she died from cancer. So that is why he never had another girlfriend,” she gave the passengers from the coach her best sad look but nobody was buying it. As if it matters!
Tragically, Manrique died when he was 73 in a spectacular car crash. The guide hints that he may have been drunk so at least we can hope that he died a happy man, he was certainly a generous one.
Hurrah! We were going home the following day. I was peeling everywhere. I missed Leslie a lot that week and on Friday evening I sent him a forlorn little text asking him if I could go and see him on Sunday. In the middle of the night his reply woke me up briefly, “That`d be lovely and we can have a bite to eat if you like. Love you Hel.” I fell asleep happy and looking forward to the flight home.
I love the Canaries, cheap and cheerful and pretty and lovely. I`d go back to Luz Y Mar again, just not in August when it is packed and VERY hot, there is no air conditioning at the apartments. I must just mention the cleaner, she looked like Patty and Selma from the Simpsons and was a right old battle axe. We tipped her 10 euros and she still moaned at us in Spanish and clanked around noisily and turfed us out 20 minutes before we needed to go. Miserable git! Hah!
For anyone who wonders, Tony`s cough did get better, thank heavens it was just one of those things.