An Article By Bernie Power with The Voice Fuerteventura
When the hire cars are zipping past me, I often think what a shame it is, as you miss so much when travelling by car.
Unfortunately, there is also nobody is around to give out much information, but there really is interesting history all around the island. Here are just a few fun facts about some of the places you can visit in the Northern part of the island.
If you go through Las Lajares on the way to the beautiful El Cotillo beaches, you pass through, what is now hardly recognisable, as a really old village. The name ‘Los Lajares’ means flagstones in Catalan and describes the solid bedrock of the place – which you would soon discover if you tried to dig a hole!
In the side streets you will see remnants of the village’s agricultural past. Everybody had to grow as much as they could, as there were many years of drought. Stone threshing circles and abandoned fields attest to the grain production and next to the pharmacy ‘farmacia’ is a round stone building that looks like a windmill with no blades. This is a Taro and was a two storey building used to store grain away from the damp and any wandering, hungry rats.
There are two windmills nearby in the next road, one of each kind. A large traditional mill sits opposite it’s younger single storey sister. Yes sister, as the small one is a Molina (female) and the big one is a Molino (male). The small ones are cheaper to build, easier to operate and take less work to maintain than the larger, male ones do. This is a great spot for a kodak moment as there is also a traditional church opposite. It is named St. Anthony of Padua and was built to the same style as many other churches which are much older, but this one was built in 1924. Interestingly, St. Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost things.
The Camel House
If you continue on your travels and on to El Cotillo, you go round a roundabout that almost sits on the original coastline. Everything North of this including Cotillo, Corralejo and the islet of Los Lobos was created in the eruptions, 9 to 10.000 years ago. Don’t go too fast, as if you keep an eye out you will soon pass a dilapidated house on your right, which is used these days as a photo shoot location. It has now been allowed to fall into disrepair but for many years was the centre of one of the main industries of the village. The house is known locally as ‘The Camel house’ and was where the many camels that were used as transportation and farming were bred.
The desert isolation of the island gave the animals the ability to work in extreme conditions and made them sought after by our African neighbours, especially for breeding purposes. They were a lot more comfortable to ride than donkeys and could take three passengers. They were used for threshing the corn in the circles, like I mentioned earlier, and had the added advantage over a donkey as they stopped to poop and not do it on the go, which meant you could keep your corn much cleaner.
Rent – A – Camel
For centuries, the whole area was a hive of activity. Farmers would buy a camel and when they didn’t need it, they could rent it through the camel house. Other farmers would club together and hire the camel and then get all their ploughing etc. done together. Even this year there has been very little rain (only 8 inches per year from Oct to March) so the camel was indispensable until quite recently. So when you are out exploring the north, don’t just zip by, stop and explore a little and imagine just what the industry was once like, in this now very quiet area.