La Graciosa is only a few miles long, has 3 volcanoes, and excluding the small nudist colony at the top end, has one small town. This contains only a handful of houses, a few shops and bars and a tiny port with a daily ferry to Lanzarote. The only roads are sand and within a day it became clear that the gene pool was more paddling size than Olympic. The locals are identifiable from the few surfers, sailors and artists that stray this far up the island chain by their standard issue head-ware of the upside down flower pot straw hat. This is twinned with jelly shoes and usually a sprinkling of tight denim. This look is modeled by both the menfolk and their wives/sisters(?) and the absence of any work really going on makes you realise that these guys have no problem with doing things the way they want.
After the dry spell in Morocco we felt spending some quality time at the local bar would be a good place to get our bearings. From silver foxes (still in jelly shoes) to a token busty serving wench, the full cast of the island floats through to pass the time of day. The best night there was when a couple of French neighbours in the harbour heard Dan playing his fiddle on the back of the boat and came over with treble saxophone, accordion and a guitar wielding Argentinian. Unfortunately true to national stereotype we explained we were off to the pub, but suggested they come along for a 'Jam'. Now I should explain here that the thought of sitting with 4 bearded musicians in sandals and woven trousers tapping my foot along in an attempt to look like i'm down with the beats makes me shiver. I feared i would be exposed as a fraud as quickly as if I went to a 50 Cent concert in a linen suit and panama hat. However, I needn't have worried. When the music began, the whole of the island came out to watch. Like rabbits being tempted out of burrows the men folk came first before ringing their lady partners to come and listen. Soon we had half the town sat round clapping and drinking with us. It peaked when, egged on by the fact we drunk the bar out of Dorada beer, Dorada Especials and were running low on Tropicalo, a small man with a face like a weathered peanut whipped out his ukulele. He soon started bashing out the island classics with the others playing along with him. It was an amazing moment and even got one guy so excited he grabbed a guitar even though he couldn't play it and he just stood in with all the musicians waving it around. Returning to the boat at 5am we were invited by a separate group of mental Frenchman back to there boat for some food. With the beery breath of a horny Frenchman washing over us we began to feel like this may have been a loaded invitation. We politely explained we were going back to eat tepid baked beans and sliced white bread and this most British of gastronomic offerings seemed to make them back off somewhat.
But that night was nothing in comparison to some other gems of the isle. 'Madame Rosa's' internet cafe held a surprise when we found Madame Rosa was actually a large 'senor'. Then there is the local boy who rides around on a quad bike staring at us from around 5 yards away. But perhaps most of all we have been alternately scared and entertained by the feral man of La Graciosa.
A couple of days in, just a few minutes after the guy with his mouth hanging open had stopped watching us from his quad bike, we were confronted with someone altogether 'different'. It really shouldn't be alarming when a middle aged Spanish man with saggy boobs comes up to your table in an empty seaside bar. If he is only wearing a threadbare pair of shorts and a coral necklace, sure it might be a bit weird, but what the hey. If he proceeds to stare a you whilst panting and sniffing like a dog... OK, granted it's a little freaky. If then, whilst still holding your gaze with feverish canine attention, he proceeds to wipe out the inside of an ashtray with his hand, sniff it a few times and then with a grunt steal your recently finished pack of sour cream and onion Pringles... then and only then can you assume it is very, very odd. The whole episode only took about 30 seconds, but afterwards we were glad to add the 'Feral man of La Graciosa' to the growing cast of unusual characters we have encountered so far. Thinking we may have only caught a glimpse of this man who dwells in the interior of the island, we realised he just sits around for most of the day by the town beach in the middle of the old boats pretending to swim face down in the sand. It was becoming clear he is very much a known fixture of the town, but people just carry on around him. We thought this was great. We did slightly question it though when we walked past a couple of kids playing on the beach within a stones throw of feral man sat rocking on his bum with his old fella hanging out. It seems that the island has a self regulating way of dealing with things like this which is commendable... i think.
We head off tomorrow after working on the boat for the last week. We have a rough date of departing on the crossing of the 15th December which means Christmas and New Year at sea. We are in good stead though after Kat made an advent calendar for which we all contribute treats. This was going well with various sweets etc popping up, but took a turn for the worst when Dave opened today's to find a picture of a stick man involving himself with a sheep. As Dan was out last night with the horny French crew and has yet to return we are a little worried with his offering, but we're sure there is an explanation. At least i really hope there is.
Hope everyone is well in the run up to Christmas. Talk is increasingly turning to festive food on the boat and relying on our fishing skills for our 'turkey' means we are most likely to be snacking on an old mackerel head. Oh well, living the dream.