View from Scarlet Mountain La Graciosa
After a spot of tweaking, tinkering and twiddling, the hired bikes were unanimously declared as ready for adventure. Four volcanoes, a thousand dunes, long golden sandy beaches and traffic free tracks beckoned.
Cycling across the sand was a tad tricky at first, but I quickly learned the technique and started to enjoy the view. A wide plain with low scrub and tumbleweed with the volcanoes dotted around. Lizards darted for cover as I whizzed past. I was hot and covered in dust when we arrived at the foot of Montaña Bermeja, the northernmost outpost of La Graciosa. The lowest of the four volcanoes, its name means “Scarlet Mountain”. The volcano is not scarlet, but a dark reddish brown terracotta.
I rested my bike on a specially built wooden stand at the foot of the volcano and stepped onto the red lappilli. From a distance, the ascent appeared relatively easy, but hiking over the lava scree was something like climbing a mountain of rice crispies. With each crunching step, a hollow formed as my foot sank in and slid backwards a little. The skyward passage was slow.
Two men wearing budgie smugglers were making there way towards the volcano from the beach below. One wore a straw hat and carried a small bottle of water, the other carried a white tee shirt. Hat man was rotund and not suited to the wearing of such skimpy swimwear. He had bronzed forearms and red upper arms. His legs were similarly patterned. His pale torso was covered with a coat of coarse black hair. Hat man’s choice of yellow togs did nothing for his multi tonal flesh. T-shirt man had the body of Adonis. His muscles rippled through his evenly tanned and smooth skin and his manhood bulged beneath the tight red trunks. I was glad I was wearing sunglasses.
The temperature soared as the sun climbed higher in the clear sky. The two men reached the summit first and sat at the highest point while we chose a space below. I sat on a rock and laid out our picnic of cheese rolls, cake and fruit.
I could see the neighbouring islands of Isla de Montaña Clara and Isla de Alegranza and the beach below. The Speedo men drank the last of their water and left almost as soon as they’d arrived. I was glad they left as I wanted the volcano for myself.
As they walked past us on their descent, I cast my eyes downward to avoid staring at the ‘package’ and realised that both men were barefoot. They hopped from foot to foot and made sucking sounds through their teeth as if in pain. Hat Man removed the straw hat from his head and placed it under his right foot. T-Shirt man wrapped his t-shirt around his right foot. They’d taken barely or five steps when they stopped. I almost choked on my cheese roll when I heard Hat man yelp like a dog. Hat Man changed the hat to his left foot and T-Shirt man did likewise with his t-shirt. They were making desperately slow progress as they slid, lost their balance and limped along. It took forever to eat my lunch as I couldn’t stop laughing at the constant chopping and changing of the hat and the t-shirt.
Eventually, we made our way down towards the beach and watched T-shirt Man struggle alone on the hillside. Hat Man made better progress, leaving his friend well behind as he stepped onto the beach. I half expected him to put on some shoes and bring shoes to his friend, but instead, he threw his tattered and broken straw hat in the bin, returned to his towel, took a swig of water and stretched out on the sands.
La Graciosa, was indeed correctly named.