We have lava at home in Uist too. You find it growing on the rocks near low tide. We cook it and make a rather salty paste a bit like boiled spinach. Mmm – if you like over-salted boiled spinach. The Welsh, rather ingeniously I think, call the cooked seaweed (in English) Lava Bread. Here in Lanzarote, the lava is found on the land as well as the sea. In the hot sunshine it must cook while still growing, turning very dry and hard. So no-one wants to eat it, even though it’s ready-made lava bread. You can find piles of the stuff, all of a tumble, across the landscape. In fact they even call them the lava fields.
Of course I’m making that up, but who knows, they might have here some kind mythical tale about all the lava. We have plenty of tales like that in Uist, though mostly about simple crofters outwitting the wicked lairds.
Live volcanoes are the stuff of myth and legend anyway, but factor in caldera from extinct volcanoes, hot springs, and there’s enough to keep generation after generation of shamans and old ladies telling stories. The same’s true of what lies below the surface of the earth too: all over the world, caves have been places where priests – perhaps with the help of halucogens – summon up the spirits of the elders. Now put together volcanoes and caves and what do you have? Lava tubes!
So, yes, today we’ve been down lava tubes again. This was at Jameos del Agua. Jameos means ‘opening’ ie collapsed roof inside lava tube. This tube starts at the Montana Coronado, just to the north of Maguez, and continues out to (or under) the sea. It’s very much a tourist attraction, with amazing artistic space of cave, plants, water. Plenty of spaces to just sit and relax and take in everything around you. 3 cafes and gift shop too. Had fun with mirrors in the ‘House of Volcanoes’: perhaps those halucogen-fuelled rituals of ancient times weren’t seeing their own elders – but all us stupid tourists in the future! Don’t you think, though, that the fact that these mirrors are here is somehow a manifestation of those ancient beliefs surviving into the modern world?
Believe it or not there’s WCs underground too, decorated with lovely ceramic pots and planting. Goodness, the photos we take when we’re on holiday!