Phayo, Franche-Compte, Elounda, Jum

Manrique Eyes

Wispy early morning air softened our arrival on bare, volcanic Lanzarote
Early morning

which a few hours later, I was secretly starting to call another ol’ heap of rocks…. My gaze skimmed indifferently over black ash fields, past tortured twisted lava badlands and up treeless conical mountains, yearning for forest green….
Burned land

Were relentlessly dry blue skies clouding my view of an island famed for its artful landscapes? I badly needed César Manrique eyes!

We were the very first visitors of the day, at Cesar Manrique’s last home on the island. And because everything looks exactly like he left it on the day of the infamous, fatal car crash, there was an intriguing sense that Mr. Manrique would come bouncing back into the picture at any moment, glowing with energy and enthusiastically holding forth on the uniqueness, art, beauty and future of Lanzarote.
César Manrique was an artist, painter, sculptor, architect and ecologist, with a grand vision for Lanzarote: An island-wide art/nature-nature/art project that would integrate man-made art
(Manrique house, courtesy

with the island’s naturally artistic landscapes

In Manrique’s own words- total art. He’s said to have driven people crazy with his sweeping ideas and uncompromising views- preaching sustainable tourism from a little red bus with loudspeakers on the roof in the 60ies- long before anyone had even heard of the word. At the same time it seems he was revered, admired and even loved by almost everyone on the island- even his fiercest critics.

One has to teach how to look, he’s quoted as saying, and in that one short morning, he taught me. Panoramas, architecture, colours and textures began to reveal their intricacies and inherent harmony
Harmony in chaos

And there was clearly an artist lurking in many a farmer, long before Manrique convinced the powers that be that the landscapes were art!
Farmers art

Harmonic farmers view

The drawback of wide open eyes? The inability to overlook the sins of exploitation, greed and stupidity that always, (always?!), accompany touristic development. Still, there will only ever be a single building (an aberration!) higher than a palm tree (excepting church steeples), on Lanzarote-
Churches on high

a law Manrique worked hard for- and a small part of his legacy to the vision he called home.

Hasta la vista, Canary Islands. We feel lucky to have discovered some of your secret places and faces

Portugal here we come, back in full traveler mode…

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