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Topography of a Journey: The Sound of the Waves (#3)

I could live by the ocean and spend my days listening to the waves break on the shore. The sound would force me to forget the voice in my head that is forever counting down, watching the seconds of my life pass by. I could watch the boats sailing by with their white sails, their destination forever unknown. I could sit in the shade in the comfort of the warmth of the sun and contemplate the questions the universe throws our way until eternity sends me packing, or until life (or death) catches up with me.

The view from my balcony is striking. There is another island in the distance and if you look a little to the right you can see the horizon. You can almost feel eternity glaring back at you as you keep your eyes set into the distance.

There are at least two good words for the area where land meets the ocean in Icelandic. My favorite one is “fjara” which also happens to be the word for ebb. I associate it with a certain kind of landscape, not beach - we have a better word for beach - but kind of a rocky lava landscape with a certain kind of white gravel that basically looks like seashells have been grounded down, not to sand but into small bits nonetheless.

Visiting some parts of this island feels a little like coming home. That shoreline where the ocean was so wonderfully blue, while some parts of it was aquamarine or even turquoise, was such a place. The ocean around Iceland doesn’t have that exquisite color normally, but the shore - this shoreline was a real “fjara”.

We parked the car, took our lunch and walked down to the ocean. Sat down in the white gravel and ate our lunch while watching the seagulls resting on the lava rocks staring out into the distance as if they too were battling that existential voice inside their heads.

We had just climbed out of the earth. After having taken a journey through Cueva de los Verdes. The caves are old and made by a close by volcano and its lava over 3000 years ago. The experience of sitting in a natural auditorium was quite something and I only wish the guide had been quiet during that moment and let us enjoy the classic piece of music that was playing in the background. The lake inside the earth was so crystal clear that it looked more like you were looking down a precipice, looking at more cliffs and not a reflection in water. A mythical spring inside the earth, certainly filled with magic and with a promise of good health or at least extra stamina for those who visit? The caves took us up and down a strange path, sometimes we had to bend down to a child’s level to be able to go further into the grotto. It is not an ideal location for those suffering from claustrophobia, I can warn, but for the rest of us it was an interesting experience.

There was light in the cave, well placed here and there to light up the path just enough but to still keep things hidden and mysterious, it wasn’t overly illuminated except maybe by the tourists who insisted to keep their mobile lights on at all times. The music after the auditorium was a delightful addition to the tour and I was almost sad to see daylight again and to go from the comfortable coolness of the cave and out into the “blazing” sun again. October is a good month to travel in Lanzarote, nicely warm but not so warm that these excursions become excruciating but the grove you start your tour in gets very heated in the blazing noon sun.

It was intriguing to read that the caves are about 6 kilometres long in all. The tour was only about one kilometre and this piece of information fired up the imagination. Images from the movie THE DESCENT came to mind and I wondered what would happen if one of the rowdy boys in the group would get lost from the party (a thing that was genuinely difficult, if not downright impossible - though what do I know?). Thoughts of lava once running through this path creating these caverns brought more of a chill down my spine however, maybe because I know first hand what it can mean to live in a volcanic landscape.

After lunch we drove through Orzola, a small town by the sea. There didn’t seem to be many people around, just a few lost souls that zombie-like stared at our car passing by. Then we got closer to the sea however and passed what I assume was the only open restaurant in town. It was packed with people! Apparently all the tourists were there, and the towns inhabitants? Well, I guess many of them work there, those that don’t where possibly out to sea or having their siesta.

We weren’t hungry after our lunch so we decided to head out of the village and drive a small road, that turned out to be a gravel road, to “somewhere”. We didn’t know what was there, but realized that we’d get closer to the mountain and that the sea was an inevitable final destination.

It was the most pristine beach I think I’ve ever visited and I’ve seen a few despite my aversion to dipping myself in such waters. The sand was soft, and the water shallow and warm-ish. The cliffs to the side were the icing on the cake, towering over the beach with a little tip lonesomely sticking out of the ocean at the far end.

The picture I posted on social media claiming this to be what heaven looks like doesn’t do it justice. There weren’t many people there either, it wasn’t marked as a tourist spot (or a spot at all) and what we found there were a few souls soaking up the sun, some completely in the nude, others in their swim suit. It was relaxed and the kid and her dad changed into bathing clothes right away. I don’t bring such things with me as I don’t bathe in a pool or the ocean unless I’m under some form of duress but it was nice to just walk up and down the beach and soak the feet in the lukewarm water.

We don’t set out to see all the sights, don’t make a point of seeing everything there is to see. I know that the tourist attractions are usually see-worthy places but sometimes it’s best to let the nose lead the way, to not have a goal in mind but to just do what you feel like doing right there and then. Sometimes the things you don’t plan are the best experiences. The last time we were here we visited El Diablo (a crater) and the national park of Timanfaya and we got to ride a Dromedary. Now, like then, we rented a car for the duration and the island is so small you can get to the farthest end of it in an hour or so. It means you can see things and still be home for a short dip in the pool, if the kid insists. It has the making of a perfect day. I could live by the ocean and listen to the waves break on the rocks all day. I could spend my time looking towards the horizon, wondering what’s out there. Who is on the other side staring - perhaps longingly, perhaps not - this way? Are they wondering what they would find if they sailed this way? I could spend my time listening to the ocean while contemplating the crescent moon.

I could, but now honestly? I’m starting to long for home.

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