In this series I’ll be looking at places I’ve visited and what meaning they have had for me or my stories, what inspiration I’ve drawn from them or what strange link I have in my head between these places and some of my characters. I’ll be looking at Paris, Corfu, France (including the Pyrenees), Scotland, Lanzarote, Lapland and more! So keep reading for some entertaining rambling and some lovely pictures! (And if you’re here from my Youtube video say Hi in the comments below.)
This week I’m going to talk about Lanzarote.
What I knew about the place?
Nothing. Nada. Hadn’t even heard of it until I was brought there on holiday and then fell in love with it (though not the 4 and a half to 5 hour flight to get there!)!
For those who may also not have heard of it, Lanzarote is part of Spain’s autonomous communities, the Canary Islands. It’s about 125 klm/78 miles off the west of Africa in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s capital is Arrecife and it’s the fourth largest island in the archipelago. One of it’s main attractions is the Timanfaya National Park which we got to visit (and which I’ll return to in a moment).
I learnt it’s climate is classified as ‘subtropical-desert climate’, which seems to mean (in basic terms) that ‘it gets pretty hot there and doesn’t rain much’ (certainly hardly ever in summer) and it’s very dry. I saw lots of people making the most of this and tanning; although you could tell the people that thought suntan cream was optional and were instead cooking. I’m quite olive-skinned when I get the sun but even I thought to be more careful that normal, those I was with had very pale skin and burnt even on cloudy days and had to be very careful in the sun.
What was very clear the second we touched down is that it’s a volcanic island which I thought was cool and made me instantly more interested in the place than I had been until then. Created from volcanoes Lanzarote is far from a simple barren landscape, instead it’s rocks have a vast array of different textures, from lava flows to strange shaped to subterranean caves.
We stayed at the end of the Calle Las Palmas road right by the Paseo Maritimo in Castillo del Aguila. We had a lovely little house with access to a swimming pool, the coast was 2 minutes away and a short walk further on was a lovely swimming beach. Having done a bit of Googling when I got back home I found out that the small castle-like structure nearby was the Castillo de las Coloradas which was apparently set up to defend the island from pirate attacks.
What I thought when I was there?
Wow! So much wow! As I’ve said previously you might assume a volcanic island would be barren and boring, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true you’re not going to see many animals or plants and the rocks and sea are the main source of colour it has a certain bleak beauty about it which is only highlighted from the odd speck of green and white coming from the carefully placed vineyards.
Because of the nature of volcanic rock you end up with all sorts of interesting shapes, colours and textures ranging from black thought to thick red-ochre. Images will speak more than a thousand words here I imagine so first take a moment to look at some of the pictures here (or for more go to my DA account).
For the trip to the National Park we had to go by coach and there weren’t many places you could get out and walk around as it’s a protected site. This was a shame; personally because I hate coach tours/guided tours with a passion but also because it was so flipping hot in that bus! Nevertheless I got to have a meal cooked by the heat of a volcano which isn’t something that happens everyday so that was quite cool (thought if I’m being brutally honest it tasted like a BBQ). I got to see more interesting rock formations and learnt a bit about how it was formed so not a wasted trip but deffo one you want to do with some friends you can have a chat with as you go round.
What impact did it leave on me/my characters? Did it inspire anything?
The interesting thing for me was that I went there with a part-written script in hand and now the two are so inexorably tied together even though the setting is nothing like Lanzarote.
I was writing for James at the time and his story is set in the cold, the rain and the snow, a far, far cry from Lanzarote, but because I spent quite a lot of my spare time proof-reading the script and because something about James felt like it was being reflected back at me in the vistas before me I feel like the two are connected.
James is a wild character with turmoil and trouble, he’s violent and dangerous and yet eventually finds some stillness (let’s say no more, spoilers!) but because of this and because of the peace I found in those vast expanses it was as if I could find a quiet place for James’ mind to go, a way of working out how he would change and grow.
I really wanted him to end up working his problems out in a place like Lanzarote (and still hope to use the location for another story further down the line) but that ended up not being possible as it just didn’t work for the story (location, timing, pacing etc.).
Still, thought the two are not immediately and obviously connected, they are in my mind and I’ve often gone back and looked at the photos and listened to the songs I was listening to at the time if I was struggling to write for him.
I hope you enjoyed the photos and finding out about how it inspired me.
What do you think of Lanzarote? Would you go? Where are you the most inspired, at peace or motivated? Let me know in the comments below.
I will see you next week for another post, until then I hope you have a great week!
See you soon!