A little bit of history...
A little bit of history...
Fuerteventura is 40 million years old, formed by volcanic erruptions which caused the island, like all the other Canary Islands, to rise from the Atlantic.
Europeans 're-discovered' these 'Fortunate Islands' in the first half of the XIVth century. They found living there a people who later came to be known as the Guanches, and who are still the object of great mystery. They had to have arrived by sea and they arrived with their domesticated animals: goats, sheep, pigs and dogs,wheat and barley.
The ancestors of the Guanches are thought to have arrived by sea, colonized the islands... and then 'forgot' how to sail! When the Europeans landed on the Canaries, they discovered a stone age culture based on shepherding, fruit gathering and a very limited agriculture. The islands were cut off one from the other as the natives did not know the art of navigation. They fished only in coastal tidal pools. This is one of the great enigmas of the Guanches. How was it possible for a race of people to reach the shores of these tiny islands by sea, live surrounded by ocean with - on several islands - enormous forests of tall trees for raw material and yet ignore the sea, living as it were with their back turned to it?
Several possible answers to this mystery have been offered. Perhaps the people of the Canaries were simple shepherds who had been transported to the islands by a sailing people and later forgotten and left to fate. Other explanations might be found in the extraordinary difficulty of navigating the oceans surrounding the Canaries due to the strong currents flowing to the West and the trade winds blowing as strongly almost year round.
Though most of their vocabulary had been forgotton, even in today's life some words can be tracked directly to aboriginal heritage, most visible in some of the islands' names. Guanche was the name by which the natives of Tenerife called themselves. Guan Chenech meant 'Man from Chenech', or man from Tenerife. With the passage of time, the term Guanche became identified with all the native peoples of the Canaries.
The names of the different islands and of their inhabitants (for those that are known) are as follows:
Tenerife: Chenech, Chinech or Achinech. It would seem that the natives of La Palma, seeing the snow-covered peak of the Teide on the horizon, called that island Ten-er-efez, 'White Mountain' (from Ten, teno, dun, duna = mountain, and er-efez = white). Achenech was inhabited by the Guan Chenech, the men from Chenech.
Fuerteventura: Maxorata, inhabited by the Majoreros or Maxos.
Gran Canaria: Tamaran, also called Canaria, was inhabited by the Canarii.
La Palma: Benahoare, pronounced 'Ben-Ajuar', and meaning 'from the tribe of Ahoare' (tribe of the African Atlas). Island inhabited by the Auaritas.
La Gomera: Gomera, inhabited by the Gomeros.
El Hierro: Hero, inhabited by the Bimbaches.
According to the tales of the European conquerors, the Guanches were a 'highly beautiful white race, tall, muscular, and with a great many blondes amongst their numbers' Their great height must be understood in relation to the average height of Europeans at that time. As for the presence of blondes, even today after many centuries of invasions and intermarriage, a heritage of blond hair and blue eyes is easily found among modern day Berbers of the Atlas region in Africa.
The Guanches preserved their dead as mummies.
My main tip is that a little spanish goes a long way! Any attempt at practising your spanish will be met with enthusiasm and help. On my first visit to Fuerteventura I was struggling with phrase books and sign language, and the encouragement I got from the locals spurred me to go back to college to study spanish. This has been a great help, as it has opened doors and allowed me a great insight to the culture and spirit of the island.
Tipping is usual in restaurants if you have received good service, usually 10%. I cant comment about taxis as I have never used them.
Haggling in markets is expected, but shops are usually fixed price, but in some shops for more expensive items you can but try!
Naturism is practised on most beaches, but is certainly not obligatory!