Why Holiday on Fuerteventura

BetancuriaIn the Canary Islands, time is anything but of the essence, as Tim Pile discovers on a stroll through Fuerteventura.

Several months ago, just as the weather was turning bleak and wintry, Norman locked up his house in England and set off for Fuerteventura. And he's still here. The sunburnt senior citizen has transformed his poolside holiday apartment into a home from home. Shelves are stacked with well-thumbed paperbacks, he has accumulated an impressive inventory of kitchen equipment and his cupboards are filled with "a few little treats my sister sends".


I'm booked into the apartment next door and after tea and chocolate cupcakes with my new neighbour; I'm ready to explore Fuerteventura. Norman isn't tempted to join me but as I head to my hire car, he looks up from his newspaper and grins. "Minus two in London. I know where I'd rather be," he says.

Corralejo is suffering from growing pains. Deep blue skies and dazzling sunlight help to airbrush the blemishes but on a less forgiving morning, many of the apartments would look tired and forlorn. Overbuilding in the heady days prior to the global financial crisis is to blame. Some properties look as if they've never been lived in.

The Beach at El CotilloGoats outnumber people on Fuerteventura so I have the rural roads almost to myself. After long spells of radio silence, a German station crackles into life, serenading my arrival in El Cotillo. There are more wetsuits than windmills in the old port. Cafes and bars are thronged with a young, bohemian crowd, drawn by near-perfect surfing conditions.

The churning ocean is no place for novices, however. Giant waves curl their lips malevolently before thundering ashore in frothy sets. According to the lifeguards, red flags are regularly hoisted and fatalities are not unusual.

I get back to find Norman demolishing the all-you-can-eat buffet. Between mouthfuls, he's busy explaining to Gerald from Wales how he can spend the entire winter in Fuerteventura on just his coal miner's pension. Food for thought?

Writting and photos by Tim Pile

South China Morning Post


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