ARCO DE LAS PEÑITAS- AN “ENLIGHTENING” EXPERIENCE

A friend recently told me that you are close to enlightenment when animals start to appear in your life. I did not know this fun fact, but someone is certainly close to enlightenment after the experience my friends and I had this past weekend.

Living in Fuerte for almost 8 months now, I can’t believe I haven’t yet visited the iconic Arco de Las Peñitas. However, I’m glad I saved this experience as something to look forward to.

If you don ‘t know…Fuerteventura is the land of goats. The capital, Puerto del Rosario (Port of Rosario) used to be named Puerto de Cabras (Port of Goats) Honestly, I want to be reincarnated as a goat in Fuerteventura. They are the happiest and chillest creatures, spend all day in the sun, and give zero fs;  my spirit animal, truly. Whilst en route to Las Peñitas, a cohort of the aforementioned goats descended from the mountain we were driving on, plopping themselves right in the middle of the road. They leisurely made their way to the side of the road, but remained very close to our car in a staring-competition sort of way. 

Goats weren’t the only animals we encountered on our drive. We took a pit stop at the Mirador de Betancuria, which I have stopped at quite a few times, and we saw the most beautiful crows (sounds weird, I know…but hear me out). I’ve seen these crows every single time I’ve stopped at the overlook since I arrived here in the fall. I always see just two crows, and I’m convinced that only these two crows live on the island. Usually, crows give me the ick (I think of the time my childhood dog chomped down on one in our backyard). But let me tell you…these crows are different…man, they are pretty. The overlook is about a thirty minute drive from our final destination, but guess who was in the parking lot to greet us when we arrived?…yep, TWO black crows. 

Pretty Fuerteventura Crow

We were also greeted in the parking lot by a black lab, probably no older than 2 years old. She came hurtling towards us, and I embraced her with open arms (probably not the best tactic when an unfamiliar dog approaches you), but I just couldn’t resist. We named her Betty. Betty was not a stray. She had a collar, and we think she came from the stand alone house by the parking lot. We let her come along on our journey, or more accurately, she let us come along on hers. The Arco de Las Peñitas is situated in the Barranco de Las Peñitas, and it is not the easiest thing to find if you don’t know where to look. In fact, we took the wrong path on our way up to the arc. Betty, being the local she is, knew exactly where we wanted to go and guided us in the exact direction of the arc. When we took our little detour, Betty forged a different path and patiently waited for us in the correct spot as we realized our mistake. After Betty guided us to the part of the trail that was unclimbable for a canine, we said our goodbyes, and she set off in the direction of home. 

Betty 🙂

The Arco de Las Peñitas was as beautiful as I imagined, but I think my favorite part of the experience has to be all the unexpected animal interactions. 

JULIA

So… I had this idea for my obligatory Thanksgiving blog post… I planned to write about the people I have met in the Canary Islands that I am thankful for. Novel idea. I know. I started my entrevistas or interviews with my roommate, Julia, and I immediately realized that this plan was insufficient. I don’t know how I could possibly fit the stories of fascinating people, like Julia, all in one blog post. Thus, begins my interview series! Name TBD. If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comment section. Although I know I can not widdle down the story of any one individual to a meager blog post, I will do my best to introduce you to Julia and others with my limited resources and amateur interview skills.

First, I should tell you that in Spanish “Js” are pronounced like “Hs”, so instead of “Jul yah”, think “Hul yah”.

Julia is one of the first people I met here in the Canary Islands. She is 22 years old, and she is a naturally likable and friendly individual. Julia hails from Madrid but came to the Canary Islands to take her driving exam. She is a very introspective person who places meaningful connections with people over all else. I admire her calm demeanor and her unmatched optimism for life.

Tell me about your home

I like Madrid for the variety of open minded and friendly people. There are many places to go, old monuments, street art, and parties. Parties before COVID were really good. In Madrid you have lots of possibilities.

Tell me about your village

My village is where my family comes from. My grandmother, grandfather, and father come from a village called Rascafria, situated in the north of Madrid at the base of the mountains. In the winter, it is really cold, and I like to sit by the fire and relax. In the summer, the climate is pleasant. I spend time with my cousins and friends. We all know each other. The village is where I learned to rock climb. I enjoy riding my bike. There are natural swimming pools, and we have a lot of stray cats. The parties in the village are famous. The 15th of August is Fiesta Patronal. We have a whole week of parties with costume competitions, car racing, and a water party where kids play with soap and water. Rascafria has lots of animals, is agricultural, and we have a wood factory. The one thing I don’t like so much is the very traditional thinking. They are not very open minded. Some people stay in the village their whole life, but others leave and go to Madrid or other places to study. I know brothers; one who went to Madrid, and one who stayed home, and they think so differently. With COVID-19 and travel restrictions, more people than usual have been visiting Rascafria because it is within their zone of travel and they have nowhere else to go. They stay in hotels and rural houses. When 3, 4, 5, people from outside Rascafria arrive, you notice.

If you could do anything without limits, what would you do?

Travel around the world all the time. I want to have many houses…not houses..homes around the world. I also want to help other people. I want to have money and resources to help them, but I will never in my life be a politician. Volunteering and traveling. I want to learn about people and know cultures. I don’t mind where I go, as long as where I go is a learning place. I like traveling alone. It’s a good thing for you, and knowing yourself in many situations. I don’t care where I go.

What are you thankful for?

I am really thankful for my parents. They push me to do lots of things, without me knowing they are good things. For example, I didn’t know what to study. Instead of arguing with me, my mom told me to calm down, take my time, make my own decision. My mom is the first one who tells me to travel. She says do it without thinking of anything else. I am what I am because of them. I’m thankful for all of my friends, all of the people in my circle because they teach me lots of things. I am really thankful for myself. I am thankful for this house. I like good people in my life, and I think I have that.

If you could eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?

Pasta. You can mix it with lots of different things. If I was a sporty person, pasta would be really nice. I am not, but I’m still going to say pasta. I’m not going to get bored with pasta. My favorite food is cuban rice. It is the best, but I would get bored of that.

How has COVID-19 changed your outlook on life?

I became more mature. In quarantine, I spent a lot of time alone. I realized many things about myself. I realized how I am. I have lots of different feelings about people. I want to think that we are a good planet. But I don’t know. I don’t really know. I think COVID changed a lot of people. People feel COVID in different ways. We do not all have the same perspective about COVID. I think COVID is a good thing to unify us. I think if we do that , it’ll go better.

Anything to add?

Now a days, I’m in a really good mood with lots of ganas de aprender.

10 REASONS WHY RUNNING IS THE ABSOLUTE BEST

Don’t @ me

With so much change recently, running is a constant. It’s hard to explain just how much this sport means to me, unless you are a runner yourself. In this case, you probably understand. If not, try to conjure up an image of your favorite pastime. Think of the feeling you get when you go fishing, bowling, watch golf on tv, or do whatever it is you’re passionate about.

1. Running allows you to FREE YOUR MIND

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Whenever I have thoughts racing through my head (every day), I take to running to sort them out. I always come off a run feeling a bit lighter and with a sense of clarity. In this way, I keep unreasonable thoughts from running around my mind all day, ha.

2. Be the main character.

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When I’m running, I pretend I’m a movie character. As cliché as it may be, I really like the “I’m the main character” mindset that has surfaced recently on social media. I recommend keeping a “my life as a movie” soundtrack featuring key songs such as Electric Light Orchestra’s, Mr. Blue Sky. Why not pretend you are in a movie about to have your great adventure?

3. Supportive community of runners

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With a background of high school and collegiate running, I’ve experienced the community that the sport provides. Although running is considered individualistic, I have NEVER felt more of a team bond in any other sport. Even now, without a team behind me, I still consider fellow runners my teammates. Ya know when you pass another runner during a run and you give each other that ~look~ and you just feel that internal bond of “Yeah, you’re a badass? I’m a badass too. Keep up the badassery.” ? Love that moment.

4. Runners high

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There is nothing like that post-run feeling.

5. I like to eat and drink a lot. Need I say more?

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6. Bragging rights

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“Yeah I’m a runner.” For some reason, people are impressed when you say you are a runner. (hint: anyone can be a runner)

7. Unpredictability

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Some days, I feel winded after 2 miles, and the next day I bust out 8 miles like nobody’s business. Sometimes my watch stops in the middle of a run. Sometimes I get lost. Sometimes it starts raining. Spontaneity keeps life interesting, amirite?

8. Passing boys on runs 😉

9. No equipment necessary!

Expensive gym memberships or COVID concerns keeping you from working out? Fear not! All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other. *Warning: your feet will likely end up looking like this:

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10. You can do it ANYWHERE

My favorite running spot in Puerto :’)

Wherever you are, you can always run. It is an efficient way to explore new places and quicker than walking.

Anyway, those are just a few of the reasons why this sport brings a warm fuzzy feeling to my heart. I love running, yes I do, if I love running, so can you!

Un Saludo,

Mags