Bad Start on the Orange Island

I’m fuming. Maybe it’s appropriate that there’s steam coming out of my ears as we’re on a volcanic island, but it’s a bad, bad start.

Apart from not being at the airport to meet us on arrival, the car hire firm has played a ‘read the small print’ card to extract an extra €120 over and above what we’ve already paid… because we don’t use a credit card. The word ‘ladrones’ is bandied about.

Plus the clouds are thick and pressing on our heads, it’s cold and we’ve been up since 4.30am.

The situation deteriorates.

I’m greeted at our rural hotel in the hills by three hounds on trampolines who seem to be competing against each other for the pleasure of eating my right hand as I try to unlock the gate to see if there are any human inhabitants about.

An elderly man appears. He knows nothing about a reservation. My mood darkens.

His wife appears on the roof terrace, fixing flags to a balustrade.

“The tall Englishman who was here a last month made the reservations,” I shout to her.

A light flickers in her eyes and then she joins the hounds in attacking me.

“He was Scottish, there’s a difference you know,” she lectures me. “Just like we are not Spanish, we are Canarios.”

It’s an ironic lecture that only serves to wind me up even more as I’m the Scottish one. I really don’t need to be told that there’s a difference between being English and Scottish.

This island will need to do a lot to charm me now.

But at least she remembers the reservation.

We’re allowed in, the dogs immediately turning gooey and friendly – anything for a pat on the head.

Our room is rustic with a four poster bed. I thaw.

But we have work to do. We change and head immediately onto the trail. Being outside helps with the thaw and the clouds inside my head dissipate almost as quickly as the ones in the sky.

Before long we’ve passed a sail-less windmill and are ascending into hills the colour of a Seville orange contrasting against an intense blue sky, a photoshopped sky. Shy spring flowers barely raise their heads from the low ground, sheltering from a wind that rarely leaves them alone.

The landscape unravels below us, hills rolling like soft waves to the far horizon; a glorious amber sea.

It is beautiful.

All is forgiven.

Above Antigua, Fuerteventura
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