Day 9: Sand Everywhere
Sunday, January 30, 2022 9:34 pm
Location: Fuerteventura: Morro Jable (216.5 km)

A long sandy day through the Fuerteventura desert brought us to Morro Jable, our final trail town in Fuerteventura.

Our stay at La Pared included a breakfast buffet, which was barely adequate. But at least there was a lot of what food there was, so we didn’t go away hungry. The breakfast, in combination with dinner last night and our room solidified my opinion of the resort as appearing fancy, but having no actual substance.

On our way out, CareFree and I made a quick stop at the resort’s mini-mart for bread for sandwiches for lunch, and continued our hike, which started with a short roadwalk to get out of town, leading us a short distance away from a beach. This gave us a quick glimpse of the ocean, the closest we’d been since leaving the port in Corralejo, and just close enough that we could actually see the ocean through the copious sand in the air from the ongoing calima.

The trail left the pavement and joined a road made of sand into a desert.

While Fuerteventura is mostly desert, we were now hiking through a stereotypical desert: few plants, lots of sun exposure, and sand everywhere. From here, most of the rest of the day would be sandy. And we knew it, and we were trying to hike a long day (32 km, 20 mi).

Fortunately here, the trail was largely rock with a thin layer of sand on top. But with dunes of sand blown around, there were beach-like sand deposits fairly frequently, usually in dips on the trail, and walking was a chore. The hazy ambiance from the calima did little to help matters: there was sand everywhere. Still, we did the only thing we could do, which was keep going further into the desert.

A Sandy Trail
A Sandy TrailThe trail follows a road in the sand straight off into the distance.

Much of the morning went through the Jandía Natural Park, where camping is prohibited. Slightly maddening were there many flattened-out areas adjacent to the road we passed which would have been perfect for camping.

It took us about three hours of hiking to finally reach the end of the desert, which was a welcome joy to our legs and feet, which were tired of slogging through the sand. Not that packed dirt roads were much of an improvement, but at least it was different, and both the firmer ground and slowly changing landscape made us feel like we were actually making progress. Another half hour on dirt and paved roads brought us to a bridge overpass, the first shade we’d seen all day. We stopped underneath for lunch.

This felt like the most remote stretch of trail in the Canaries so far; after leaving La Pared, we’d gone the whole morning and part of the afternoon without seeing any towns. We passed a few people in La Pared; a couple driving on the dirt road just past the end of the sand roads asked us about driving to (presumably) nearby beaches; and a few cyclists passed us while we were eating lunch. (There was a cycle path made out of what appeared to be an old road.)

A bit more hiking brought us to our nemesis for the afternoon: the beach.

Playa de Sotavento
Playa de Sotavento

There was relatively little hiking on the beach itself (thank goodness!). Instead, the trail was a little further inland, taking us up and down a series of rocky hills as we made our way southwest down the coast.

We passed a few parking lots, some filled to the brim with cars. It rather seemed like there were more cars than people on the beach.

Along the trail were the husks of two large buildings, abandoned during construction. Possibly they were intended to be hotels — further ahead we would pass by several large resorts on the beach — but there was no signage that we could see, either of the construction company or of the thing being built. Probably they had been abandoned for years at this point.

The trail took us near a green shack on the beach, a bar-restaurant, and we decided it was time for another soda-and-ice cream break.

Ice cream and soda on the beach is apparently really expensive. We paid 17 €, way more than even the fancy restaurant in Vega de Río Palmas two days ago. We needed the break, and the snacks, but not the exorbitant prices.

Playa Salvaje
Playa SalvajeWaves ripple in to Playa Salvaje on the southeastern coast of Fuerteventura.

After a few more ups and downs, the trail actually ran on the beach, climbing up a steep sandy slope. The path through was quite clear; we weren’t the first people to go through, but it was also tiring, more so mentally than physically.

We reached a split in the trail, where an alternate takes an inland (and on-road) route, while the main GR131 trail goes along the beach. The inland route is intended to be a high-tide route, but we (and CareFree in particular) were fairly tired at this point, and we also needed to be in Morro Jable by 6 — only an hour and a half away — to check into our hotel, and we were already behind schedule. Sand walking would only make it worse. The inland route would be a longer distance, but we felt it might be faster, so we went that way.

Some curvy roads later, we rejoined the main trail, which now followed a wide promenade, with a walking path and bike lanes, sandwiched between the town, on the north, and protected wetlands, to the south. We made good time, but the asphalt was hard on our weary feet, and we had to stop for a ten minute break part-way. I took my boots off to air my feet out; the amount of sand that had collected in them from my last break was astonishing.

As we got closer to the center of town, we passed a large open grassy field, if not the first we’ve seen on the islands, definitely the largest. It was decorated with a single palm tree, and the skeleton of a whale.

Whale Grass
Whale GrassA whale skeleton on the largest (and only) grass lawn we’ve seen so far.

Running late, we turned off the promenade a little early and headed straight to our hotel, getting to the Villa Mar Hotel shortly after 6. We arrived to find the front door locked and reception already closed. Fortunately, the receptionist was still there, closing up for the evening, and she was able to let us in and checked us in.

Sunset over Morro Jable
Sunset over Morro Jable

We went to a nearby mini-mart for supplies for dinner and tomorrow’s hike (opting to cook pasta in our room’s kitchenette rather than go out to a restaurant).

We had decided to book the room for only one night, but after our exhausting day today, decided to modify our plan tomorrow: rather than getting up early and rushing to hike the last stage on Fuerteventura, to the lighthouse at Punta de Jandia, so that we could catch the bus back in time for the evening ferry to Gran Canaria, we instead opted to book a second night, take the morning bus to the lighthouse and hike back, and then get the morning ferry the day after so we wouldn’t have any time pressure.

Despite having emptied my boots out of sand (or trying to, at least) during my breaks earlier in the day, I was still surprised at how much sand there was in my boots — and on my feet, through two layers of socks — when I took my boots off at the hotel room. I suspect I’m going to be finding sand for days to come.

CareFree got a shower. I started to get one, but the hot water was from a small tank and nearly used up, so I decided to shower after dinner. As we started to cook dinner, though, the power went out to our room!

We called the all-hours service number, and our receptionist arrived 20 minutes later with a building technician, who was able to get the power to come on; but the problem appeared to be partially somewhere else in the building (since all the circuit breakers in the room were reset and on). So, the receptionist gave us a key to the next-door room and told us to use it if the power went out again. Which it did, right before I was about to try for a shower again.

Our second room was a tiny bit smaller, but at least had well-behaved electricity.

Tomorrow: we finish hiking on Fuerteventura.