Tinajo

One of the major tourist haunts of the island is, without doubt, Lanzarotes National Park of Timanfaya (dealt with elsewhere in this guidebook). The Montanas del Fuego (Fire Mountains) and the surrounding Malpais (Badlands) of lava fields, are included, for the most part, within the borough of Tinajo. But Tinajo, perhaps the most Lanzarotean of all the island's towns, both for its architecture and its people, is by no means just an area of barren lunar landscape. A startling variety of agricultural products are grown within the borough, including tobacco, once on a much larger scale than today. Grapes and corn-on-the-cob, and as a local campesino said, 'bits of everything" grow in Tinajo. Tinajo has an attractive parish church with a pleasant main square, adjacent, a favourite of haunt of both the young and old of the town.

The municipality has a population of a little more than 3,000 including those who live in outlying farms and villages.

One such village is the delightful Mancha Blanca (meaning "White Stain"), on the road leading to Timanfaya. The village has lovely low white-washed houses, nestling among surrounding extinct volcanoes. And wild flowers splash the village roadsides with dabs of colour during the spring.

But Mancha Blanca's fame lies in its small church, the Virgin of the Volcanoes. The story goes that during the sixyear period of volcanic eruptions on Lanzarote which started in 1730, the desperate villagers of Mancha Blanca carried the image of the Virgin to a nearby volcano which was spewing out boiling hot molten lava. The image of the Virgin was set down nearby and within minutes the eruption had subsided. Around the same time, a young Tinajo boy was playing a little too close to a crater when suddenly the volcano erupted. The shuddering of the earth made the child tumble down the inner slopes. It is said that an "unknown person" immediatcly appeared wearing a cape and whisked the youngster to safety. It was never discovered who had rescued the boy, but many villagers still believe the Virgin of the Volcanoes was responsible. There is still today a great sense of devotion to the Virgin, witnessed particularly during the church's main festival in September when members of the faithful crawl on their hands and knees up to the altar in the church to pay homage to the "Mother of God".

The tiny fishing village of La Santa also comes within Tinajo's jurisdiction. Some of the most delicious fish on the island is caught in the waters off La Santa. Locals say its taste originates in the fact that the sea here is usually rougher and wilder than other parts of tile island and the fish are subsequently healthier and more flavoursome. A couple of kilometres from the village is La Santa Sport, a somewhat solitary holiday urbanization which is popular with sporting figures. Many Olympic athletes can train at La Santa in ideal conditions when European stadiums are rain-sodden or snow-bound.


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