Local Voices

The following couple are the grandparents of a family friend and it was a privilege to have a glimpse into the hardships of their world.

Pedro Cabrero Curbelo (85) and his wife, Magdalena (84), were both born on Fuerteventura and lived through the island's endemic poverty before the arrival of tourism. 'There was no electricity or mains water until 1979 and this town (Giniginamar) only had four houses and a church,' explains Pedro.

'We had a pozo (well) but the water was very salty. In the old days a lot of people left for Venezuela to make their fortunes, because life was so hard here and the land supplied little food. I went to work in the southern Sahara in the sulphate mines for several years and when I returned, I married. It was still hard; there was only one doctor on the whole island. We lost two children and, if there was a death in the village, we had to carry the deceased over our shoulders to the cemetery, as there were virtually no surfaced roads.

'We started rearing goats to make cheese that was sold door to door. It was the only way to make a living here.'

Today the farm is thriving with around 600 goats and a flock of sheep. According to daughter Theresa, her mother is still up at 7am every morning to look after the goats. The milk is collected daily for transport to a cheese-making factory.

'Do you like cheese?' I ask innocently.

'No!' Pedro and Magdalena answer in unison, before bursting into gales of laughter.

Before crossing the ridge that forms the island's spine, it passes through the sleepy hamlets of Tetir and La Matilla. The tiny 1902 chapel in the latter is a good example of the simple bucolic buildings of the Canaries - functional, relatively unadorned and aesthetically pleasing.

About 7km south of La Matilla, along the FV-207, and 1km beyond the village of Tefía, is the Ecomuseo la Alcogida (% 928 85 14 00; adult/under 12yr €4.50/free; S10am-6pm Tue-Sat), a restored agricultural hamlet complete with furnished houses, outbuildings and domestic animals (though the chained-up dogs have a troubling un-eco feel). Overall, it's an interesting glimpse into the tough rural life of the not-too-distant past, with local artisans working in some of the settlement's buildings making lace and wicker baskets. There's a gift shop and an optional audio commentary in English (€3).

Follow the road out of Tefía and swing right (west) on the FV-211 for Los Molinos. On the way you can't miss the old windmill used to grind cereals for the production of gofio, sitting squat across from a distinctive white-domed observatory. Los Molinos itself is little more than a few simple houses overlooking a small, grey, stony beach with cliff trails to the east and plenty of goats, geese and stray cats. If you do stop here, make a point of having a seafood lunch at Restaurante Casa Pon (mains €6-10; S 11am-6pm) while gazing over Atlantic breakers.

Tindaya is a sprawlingvillage where much of the island's Majorero goat cheese is produced, although you wouldn't know it; there are no high-street delis selling the cheese here (in fact, there's no high street!). See the boxed text on p98 for more information on this renowned cheese.

Bus 7 from Puerto del Rosario to El Cotillo passes through all but Tefía and Casa de los Molinos three times daily. Bus 2 (€1.25, 20 minutes, twice daily), between Puerto del Rosario and Vega del Río de Palmas, passes by Tefía. There are no buses to Los Molinos.

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