Before I moved to Lanzarote I lived in very big cities and very small villages. Always I felt a tiny part of an extreme. Be it the massiveness of New York and London or the intensity of a small neighborhood in the Cotswolds where everybody watched from the corner of curtains and tried very hard not to twitch.
Lanza is different and that’s why I came. We are a funny size. The local population is big enough to have working towns but the entirety still feels like a hamlet. We know each other slowly but warmly. It takes time for neighbours to enter the patio but the hola and the wave is immediate from day one.
It confused me at first why people didn’t rapidly respond to an open door. But of course it was just that I was initially a tourist. I’d be leaving soon, so why embrace. Weeks passed and months passed and suddenly I knew everyone. Canariian, Spanish, Venezuelan, Cuban, everyone came and merged and stayed.
Once you’re in here, you’re in. I don’t know what it’s like in the resorts but up in the mountains my neighbours bring food every week. It’s impossible to refuse it. The Shepard sits with my dog and he cuddles my cat. We whistle across fields to check we’re ok. The closeness is very real and honest and true.
I’m a gay man and it’s probably obvious. That made me nervous before, when joining a new town or meeting the people next door. I was beaten in London, sworn at in Cheltenham, judged as not gay enough in New York. Here they don’t care. It’s Pride week on Lanzarote and it really brought home how weird this place is. The not caring is awesome.
Proud to be Weird
Weird is good of course. Let’s be honest, the whole concept of Lanza is odd. We live on volcanos, the colour of our houses is controlled and we speak with an accent that seems strange in Madrid. Weird is awesome and bold and great. And nobody cares less who you marry here. That attention is on more important things like the quality of your salsa or the depth of your coffee.
New friends just didn’t notice that both of us were men. The bank automatically addressed us correctly. The octogenarian next door just calls us “his boys”. There’s a difference between tolerance and not even seeing the difference. And here it’s genuinely in the DNA of the place to love freely.
I actually forgot it was Pride this week. The island has more important things to do than arrange a parade. But I had seen a photo of the flag flying in our capital and asked my partner to stop outside the little town hall where we live to see if I could spot one. I was a little disappointed it wasn’t there until we turned the corner. Instead of just putting a token up on the wall they were flying the rainbow on the biggest pole in town right in the square.
That’s what it’s like here. We proud. We don’t care. We’re little and large and we will take you completely once you decide that you’re staying. It’s weird and probably how the big world should be. And it makes me feel whole.
Photo by Isi Parente.