The seduction had been going on for over a year. In early 2019, on discovering Lanzarote, we arrived late to the northern end of the island to visit its famous Mirador del Rio.
Conforming to the mishap, we descend on the road that runs along the top of the adjoining cliffs.
When we reach the threshold of the Risco de Famara, more than 500 meters high, we peer down into the Atlantic and beyond, the sight of La Graciosa and the remaining islands of the Chinicho archipelago it leaves us in disbelief.
Even tiny compared to the massive Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, in such a way that, even close, La Graciosa fit us in the breadth of a single look, the insular extension that we admired there immediately generated in us an anxiety.
Over the next sixteen months, given over to planning the next trips, that vision came back to us again and again.
With the chance to return to a new itinerary in Canary Islands, we made sure that it went through the north of Lanzarote and that it included La Graciosa. So it happened.
Already on board the ferry Romero Lines, the more Orzola faded, the closer we got to the sharp peninsula that encloses the summit of Lanzarote, Punta Fariones and Fariones, the great rocks that were also sharp that inspired his baptism.
In its imminence, the ocean to the north battles with the waters of the River Strait, the canal, despite its name, marine that separates Lanzarote from La Graciosa.
Used to seeing himself in this dispute, the commander maneuvers the navigation with the way he has gained in countless passages there, smooth, in an oscillating way of being.
we bypassed the tip. With Graciosa in sight, we entered the canal next to the fluted base of Lanzarote, which, made of cliffs so high and rough, made the boat a nutshell.
With the Mirador de Rio high up, the captain makes the boat cross the river. He points it to the port of Caleta del Sebo, the capital of La Graciosa.
Saturday unfolds. We come across the city in an obvious decompression mode. The jetty that we went around to enter, serves as a landing for a restless community of young fishermen who celebrate our entry with a cheerful mime.
Twilight Landing in the Small Capital of Caleta del Sebo
Already moored beside a forest of flagpoles and flags, we survey the bay ahead. A flurry of bathers indulges in the last swims of the day on the village's sandy beach. Simultaneously, a community of chatty guests drinks reeds and enjoy snacks from the sea on the airy terraces all around.
Behind the houses in the west of the city, the sun now peeked, now disappeared among a caravan of low clouds propelled by the Alisios. It was already under the dark Atlantic that we crossed the bay carrying our suitcases, some on our shoulders, others pulled with effort over the sand to the apartment we had booked there.
We went out again an hour later, heading towards the restaurant "the sailor”, one of its gastronomic Meccas. There we stuffed ourselves with Starters of sardines, shrimp, with octopus and the gofio e wrinkled potatoes almost impossible to circumvent all over the Canary Islands.
After the meal, even without our bags, we crawled back to the apartment. We had a whole new island to discover. For a change, we were going to explore it by bicycle.
A Semi-Ride by Bike to La Graciosa
Much less early than we wanted the next day, we knocked on the door of La Molina Bike.
Doña Demelza, welcomes us thinking that we would find visitors something younger. Even so, somewhere between our ease and the desire to pedal, it lets itself be impressed. “You have the air of adventurers, I can already see that, in order to take pictures, you will want to go through the sand, the rocky paths and all that. Look... I'll give it to you Bikes of the off-road, those with the thickest tires.”
Even aware that, in one of the few places with capital where there is no asphalt, the artillery bicycles would tire us to bend, we feel privileged. We are grateful for the blessing, we say goodbye to the smiling Demelza, we disappear among the white houses of Caleta del Sebo.
Leaving the village behind, with the exception of a sequence of villagers' small vegetable gardens, the island quickly revealed to us how it came into the world.
As you would expect in the Canary Islands archipelago, La Graciosa is volcanic, in geological practice, an insular volcanic massif dotted with five volcanoes. Even if with contained heights, these volcanoes, here and there, spice up the circuit around the island.
A few good rides later, we found ourselves at a crossroads of sand roads between two of them, La Aguja Grande (266m), the highest on the island, in the company of the crater Aguja Chica and the neighboring Montanha del Mojon (185m).
Curious about what the coast from there to Graciosa would have in store, we headed towards it, at the same time, from the north of the island. We reject the Playa Baja del Ganado. Instead, we point to Las Conchas and the foot of the ocher volcano of Montaña Bermeja.
Montaña Bermeja's Conquest and Omni-Revelation
At its confluence, we found a bicycle parking lot more crowded than we expected. We estimated that the yellow sand of the beach next door, in duo with a delicious turquoise sea there, would attract a good part of the cyclists entertained with the return to Graciosa.
The desire to immediately surrender to that Atlantic blown by the Alíseos was not lacking, but with the trail and the challenge of conquering the Montaña Bermeja (157m) starting a few meters away, we had no way of resisting.
On tiptoe, along the trail already marked on its crest, we ascend to the colored summit covered with light green lichens or a very dark yellow one.
In addition to the lichens clinging to the rocks, we found the top decorated with an unexpected work of art, four statuettes, carved in what seemed to us sandstone, with shapes, if human twisted, almost amorphous.
We found out later that a cross with the inscription of 1499 came to accompany these sculptures, the year in which the conquest of the Canary Islands archipelago, which began in 1402, is considered to have ended.
Jean de Béthencourt and Enchantment with Little Graciosa
The story goes that Norman Jean de Béthencourt was the discoverer who baptized La Graciosa.
After several weeks at sea, counting since the departure from the port of La Rochelle, Béthencourt delighted in the sight of the almost shallow island at the foot of the gigantic neighbor Lanzarote. He called it, thus, la graceuse, title that was adapted to Castilian.
Béthencourt was determined to stock up on heather, a lichen from which a color comparable to violet is extracted. It ended up conquering Lanzarote and Fuerteventura and colonizing much of the Canary Islands archipelago.
We see no sign of the cross or, among the abundant lichens around us, the precious heather. In any case, the surrounding scenarios quickly claimed our attention and aroused an inevitable visual ecstasy.
To the north and east, La Graciosa stretched out into a sandy expanse filled with low dunes dotted with xerophytic vegetation.
To the south and southeast, the small local desert yielded to the dictatorship of volcanic soil and an almost black grey.
From this brown soil, in the distance, we could see the other elevations of the island rising, the further south, the more diffused in the haze (dusty mist) that arrived there from Sara.
And around La Graciosa, the extension of the Chinijo sub-Archipelago
When we turned to the north and northwest, with the sea in the middle, we saw several inhospitable and uninhabited islands: the Isla de Montaña Clara, just ahead. Further away, the Isla de Alegranza.
We also glimpsed two other islets, Roque del Oeste – also known as Roque del Infierno – in the vicinity of the island of Montaña Clara, the Roque del Este.
This set, plus our hostess La Graciosa (the largest island with 27km2), forms the Chinicho Canary Islands sub-archipelago that kept us a good half-hour in absolute sensory delight.
We interrupted it because of the notion of the time we had left to go around the island and the urgency of recovering the postponed dive at Playa de Las Conchas, which, just below, insinuated itself in turquoise gold.
No sooner said than done. We return to the base of the mountain Bermeja, we crossed the beach. With extra care, we dived under the waves that the trades continued to spur.
With the return to the island still to be completed, we return to the bicycles still to dry.
We cycle to its northern coast, peeking at the windy seaside of Playas Lambra and Del Ambar.
Instead of going around the entirety of the north coast, we cut our way to Pedro Barba, the second village on the island, even if it is mainly made up of second homes by people from Graciosa and others by foreign vacationers.
It didn't take us long to see the white line of its houses, against the immense cliffs of Lanzarote in the background.
Afterwards, we climbed, with effort, between the Morros Negros and the eastern slopes of Aguja Grande and Chica. We tried to extend our efforts in order to conquer the island south of Caleta del Sebo.
Return in Time for a New Sunset in Caleta del Sebo
As Doña Demelza had warned us, the road to Punta de la Herradura and its Montaña Amarilla turned out to be too sandy even for the supposedly off-road bikes we were riding.
Exhausted, watching the sun fall over the Atlantic in front of us, with no time to reach the planned destination of Playa de la Cocina, we reversed our way to Caleta del Sebo.
Back to village, we return the Bikes special to Demelza.
In the temple that was left to us until the dark resettled, we walked through the alleys and along the almost shallow seafront that confronts the huge cliffs of Lanzarote.
La Graciosa still enchants us today.