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Manrique Tour

Yesterday we went on a coach tour to learn more about the places of the extraordinary Cesar Manrique.

The words ‘eco-friendly’ turn me off for me as it normally means someone is getting high and mighty about the environment.

However I admire a man such as Manrique, who imports into his art and into the country where he was born and for the most part lived, the joys of its indigenous nature.

The influence of Manrique is all pervasive and yesterday we explored it.

Somewhat irritatingly, especially for Bob whose room entry card failed to work and to see him pile into the receptionists was not a pretty sight, the bus had to stop ten times for pick-ups.

The group comprised of three Japanese ladies who were to take endless selfies, Germans and Brits.

Our guide was a Dutchman whose closely-shaved skull made him resemble Japp Stam. He was a considerable linguist and gave the commentary in three languages – Spanish, English and German.

Our first port of call was Manrique’s monument to the Peasants featuring a farmer, donkey and camel – though you would do well to work that out from the figures.

We then moved onto his house which he occupied for 20 years.

On returning to his native island from New York in 1966, where he was the guest of Nelson Rockefeller, he walked the volcanic paths of lava.

He noticed certain bubbles below its surface.

He acquired the land and built a house there.

The upper floor now the museum housed his bedroom and spare one, the lower floor built into the volcanic caves below the sitting room and studio.

You emerged into a swimming pool. It was quite beautiful.

We then moved onto another Manrique creation – the Cactus Garden. Cacti do nothing for me, a prickly arid plant, but the vast collection of them was impressive.

Next we had lunch at Las Cascajos. It was the dreaded buffet but this time rather tasty even if the local wine also served as paint stripper.

After the lunch we were asked to chooses whether we wanted to visit the Green caves, or Jameos de Agua (literally ‘water crabs’), another Manrique creation.

The Japanese group was confused by this binary choice and after much discussion and further debate amongst themselves opted for the water crab. So did we, put off by the long stair descent and ascent of the green caves. It was the right choice though one tourist with a walking stick found these stairs hard to negotiate.

Again Manrique has transformed what was a rubbish dump into a lagoon which attracted miniscule albino crabs, hence the name.

It was poor organisation to divide the party as the coach was thirty minutes late in picking us up.

We were treated to a Lanzarote sunset as the various passengers were dropped off. I found myself thinking that, if you put an artist in charge of designing your island, how much more he achieves than a town planner, self-important mayor or local politician.

Manrique has created a superb artistic environment incorporating nature. There is only one building, a hotel in the capital, above 2 storeys on Lanzarote.

The island seems litter free.

The roads are clear and well constructed. He left a considerable legacy when sadly he died in car accident, not 200 yards from his home, in 1992.

Bob’s mood was sufficiently restored to play one of his favourite games of ”buggering up the selfie” by dodging behind the Japs at the moment of photo-shot and then cutting back to repeat the process with much apologising.

We got back at 6-30pm and guess what? Bob’s entry card did not work.

About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts