It is one thing to see the wild goats from the car window, quite another to live with them whilst hiking through the canyons and mountains of their land.
“Do you hear bleating?” I asked my companion, “It sounds like goats.” I unzipped the tent, poking out my head. Coming down the hillside were families of goats. Looking up, there were more to come. Kids were skipping and bleating whilst parents looked at the tent in wander, directing their little ones away from this unusual structure.
Looking at the sky it was the darkest I’d seen it, the bright blue had been replaced with dark clouds.
There was a long walk ahead. Passing through the village of Betancuria I asked the locals their opinions. Was a storm threatening to ruin our day? One man threw his arms up, “This is Fuerteventura,” he said: “It never rains on our island”. Another lady warned us of flash floods along the canyons where we were heading. Some Welsh holiday makers sat with us, enjoying the local cheese as we built up our energy and our supplies. Asking questions their amazement showed at our choice of pastime.
Equipped with supplies of food and camping necessities, including a 1.5kg Lanzarote potato, a questionable decision to boost morale come night, we said farewell to Betancuria.
Winding upwards away from the village and the surrounding valley, I occasionally looked back at the views being left behind. Without a map, only a compass and the changing terrain would lead the way. The local goat farms would be the last sight of civilisation for a while.
We crossed the unseen threshold into goat’s land.
Coming across our first barricade, a herd of goats covered our path. Sticking together, they bleated as if to make us turn around. One female had strayed and needed to pass us. We held back, letting her join her group. They were satisfied for now, moving aside whilst still looking and bleating, confirming that they were not completely happy with our presence.
Scrambling down from hilltop to canyon bottom the journey to the coast was to be a rocky one. A few rain showers fell, so light we could almost count the drops. The January temperatures suited our adventure. The daytime sun heated the wind and sleeping bags would keep us warm at night.
A goat lay dead, caught in some random wire. I’d seen a television presenter eating raw goat testicles in a survival situation, thankfully not a requirement. We walked far and long, pushing forward around every curve, searching for signs of our destination. A little goat walked with us a while, leading the way until called away by its’ mother.
The ground was changing, the air smelled different, the sea was near.
A hillside filled with goats was almost identical to that at the beginning, as though dutiful guards were escorting us away. I started to count them, surprised by how many there were, until I was cautioned not to become sleepy by ‘counting goats’. The laughter lifted our spirits as our boots reached the sand.
What stood before us, completely unexpected was the Arc of Ajuy. This was to be our home for the night.
But our adventure did not end there. We took some time to sit and appreciate the view, delighted at how far we had travelled we talked of the ups and downs of the day and managed a small paddle in the rough water. As dusk threatened it soon to be dark we started to find a camp spot. Still with the warning of flash floods we avoided the area so many other campers had been clearly caught, the evidence of raised water levels and washed out equipment was enough to tell us that. So, we headed to higher ground.
Darkness came quicker than expected and on finding some even ground we put up the tent, not entirely sure of what surrounded us.
The wind was fierce that night and if it had not been for there being two people and the luggage in the tent, I feared we would end up in the sea. It was a true test to the strength of the tent and thankfully it was still sheltering us in the morning.
As the daylight announced the new day had come I remembered why there is no better feeling in a morning to opening the tent and looking out at the surroundings, there before me was the natural beauty of the arc, beach, sea and a family of goats.