Andrew and Sarah Anderson get active on the BN Members’ Holiday to Fuerteventura
"I'm going to be first in the water" says Jonathan as he rises and makes his way across the deck. ‘We'll see about that.’ thought Andrew. Being naked already, all there is to do is get up and leap off the back of "Love Boat II" into the clear blue waters off Isla Los Lobos. It's January 2018 but the water is at least as warm as the south of England on a hot August day. Captain David gives us chunks of bread to feed the waiting shoals of bream and they swim hungrily round the half-dozen naked swimmers on this BN member's holiday, bumping into us and snatching mouthfuls. The catamaran provides ample deck space for sunbathing and seats for conversing and making new friends as the plentiful Sangria flows.
Our space on this Tuesday trip was reserved at the welcome evening on the Saturday we arrived at Hotel Gran Natura in Fuerteventura. Arriving late afternoon, the blank aluminium door yielded to an oasis of nakedness within - an inviting vista of bold yellow and orange painted buildings, cactii and palm trees, and straight ahead the curving glass wall and comfy sofas of the reception area.
Later that evening as Chalfont Holidays/BN’s group leaders Andrew and Sheryn went through the week's activities in front of the assembled Gymnophiles, we heard the phrase "spaces are limited" and immediately started laying Euros on the table determined not to miss out. We needn't have worried - there was space on the catamaran for all who wanted it. We joined BN in July 2017 just before Nudefest and this was our first BN group holiday. According to the more experienced fellow travellers, Andrew and Sheryn's programme of events was unprecedented in completeness and preparedness. This initial work was followed up with flawless execution, helpfulness and availability to any member who needed, well, anything really.
Venturing out for a naked hike across the Parque Natural Corralejo on the first full day with a brace of Johns, Andrew got to see the subtle beauty of Fuerteventura's arid landscape. The Parque is directly accessible from the hotel with only a small road to cross, which is now much quieter thanks to the new FV-1 to Corralejo that swings further inland. What appears from the road to be uniform scrub actually comprises an amazing variety of plants. The horticultural guru in our party was keen to name every one we passed, so we got education as well as exercise. For example the delicate little white flowers growing at ground level native to just Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are called Androcymbium psammophilum psammophilum don't you know! Bigger plants are spaced out enough to allow easy passage, thankfully.
"Together please, 1, 2, 3, and sit!" Abdel the camel handler instructed us, so as not to unbalance the side-by-side saddle arrangement slung over the hump of the magnificent Arturo, lead camel in the train. "Hold tight" and Arturo hoists us aloft on improbably skinny legs. Next in line was Anna, carrying two German ladies, and finally Sandra with a sole passenger perched atop the hump. The camels were not part of the official programme, but maybe next time...?
A busload of us disembarked for a one hour visit to Lajares, en-route to El Cotillo. Lajares is a little village with a lot of craft, clothing and surf shops and we were all absolutely naked under our clothes (oh my!). We found a retro/vintage shop run by a friendly Welshman where we bought a pretty dress and a fabulous jacket. At the El Cotillo lagoons, Andrew Welch's hire car came in very handy for transporting the less mobile nudies from the beach to the restaurant. We sat in one of the many stone circles that you find dotted along Fuerteventura's beaches. Fuerteventura translates as "strong wind" and that wind is relentless. The locals have built circles out of the plentiful porous black volcanic rocks. Walls about 2ft high, diameters from 8 to 16ft these "castles" make cosy sunbathing spots out of the wind. It's a fun game to guess "textile or nudie" occupants as you pass each castle. We are pleased to report a healthy proportion of sensible (i.e. nude) everywhere we went.
Meanwhile John, John and Andrew's naked hike encounters the aforementioned black rocks mixed with the blown-in Saharan sand in a surprising variety of ways: lurking just beneath the surface to stub the toes of the be-sandalled, or strewn in tiny chunks over the sand to inconvenience all but the stoutest boots, or in heaps of massive boulders to scramble over with the occasional unexpected movement underfoot, and lastly, near the centre of the parque, completely submerged under towering sand dunes which are surprisingly firm to walk on, and a lot of fun to leap off and roll down the steep soft leeward sides of.
We didn't partake in the dune buggy safari (which by all accounts was good fun), opting instead for a day in Corralejo. Taxi is a little over €4 each way and they were happy to transport Sarah’s mobility scooter. If you are fit it's an easy walk into Corralejo: in fact Andrew and Sheryn's 7:30am running group run almost to the centre and back each day before breakfast. But mobility scooter battery range being what it is, taxi was the prudent choice. The promenade around the harbour was bustling even out of season, many restaurants and cafés vying for your trade. Impressive sand sculptures adorn the sheltered corners of the small beaches that are tucked between the ubiquitous black rocks. The first we came across was a dragon made by a British couple, finishing touches being applied at 11am the culmination of four hours work. Some days they can rework the previous day's sculpture - it depends how merciful the wind and tide have been. Shops are one row back from the prom. There's a lot of inexpensive souvenir tat but a few nicer shops too. We bought a beautiful statue in Galeria La Fuentita which is on Calle la Galera just before the pedestrian bit.
Back on the catamaran and the swimmers are back on board. People aboard other yachts, or the glass-bottomed ferry, or waiting on the pier for said ferry offer a source of amusement. It's the same routine all afternoon: we wave, they wave. They do a double take, exchange words with their neighbour, double take again and then laugh/wave enthusiastically/turn away according to their feelings about nudity. We spent many a mirthful moment musing on exactly what they were saying to each other.
January weather can be dicey in Fuerteventura. We got a decent roll, maybe not sevens but definitely not snake eyes. Only on the last day was the sun hiding, so we rented a motorbike and enjoyed the rolling vistas of this land the way only a bike can provide. 669 meters up, at Mirador De Morro Velosa we stopped for a hot drink because it's about four degrees colder up there compared to sea level. The view is stunning, you can see right across the island. Sheer drops alongside and hairpin bends on the road which snakes up and down this mountain are not for the faint hearted, especially two-up on an unfamiliar motorbike. Down the valley lies Betancuria, the old capital of the Canaries. A pretty village, very quiet off-season.
The Hotel Gran Natura's hot tub was welcome relief after we stripped off our biker gear. Dinner conversation that evening centred around airport transfers and the return to normality. Time to book another BN member's holiday methinks!