Echoes of Another Universe: Exploring Fuerteventura’s Surreal Landscapes

Stepping beyond the confines of our hotel complex, I enter a realm akin to another universe. Stretching for miles on end is nothing but small, jagged volcanic rocks interspersed with pockets of sand. In the far distance, extinct volcanic cones loom over the landscape, their eruptions of 50,000 years past has shaped the island’s gradual expansion northwards.

Waking up at the break of dawn, around 7 am, and venturing beyond the fence, it feels like I have been transported to the dawn of time, accompanied by the strains of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” by Richard Strauss, echoing in the mind. 

As the sun ascends and temperatures rise, I meander further into the desert landscape, reminiscent of Travis Henderson in Paris, Texas, albeit sans the iconic red baseball cap shielding me from the relentless sun.

En route to the main town, a sight catches the eye—a large statue of a shark atop a pedestal, weathered and graffiti-strewn. Encircled by withered palm trees, cratered grounds, and debris-strewn pathways lies what remains of Parque Europa Baku—a once-grand theme park boasting live animal exhibits, a shark tank, a haunted hotel, bars, bingo halls, botanical gardens, and performance arenas. If The Walking Dead TV show were to chronicle Europe’s post-zombie apocalypse, this eerie landscape would serve as a hauntingly authentic set, sparing production costs.

Shuttered in the early 2010s, amidst allegations of mismanagement and fraudulent activities, the site stands as a testament to dashed dreams, much like the abandoned holiday apartment complexes scattered across the island.

Navigating through the remnants of the theme park, I notice boarded-up buildings, makeshift dwellings hinting at human habitation—some nestled deep within underground mazes, others at street level. These structures now house squatters, their lives interwoven with the decaying remnants of past entertainment.

Keeping the camera by one’s side, out of respect for the newfound residents, the once-thriving amusement park now transformed into a makeshift community. Amidst the ruins, I encounter Gabriel from Italy, who is happy to talk and be photographed as he hones his juggling and street performance skills, preparing for the upcoming tourist season.

Amidst the exploration, the journey culminates at the “hidden” beach, Playa Del Bajo, colloquially known as “Popcorn Beach” for its unusual white algae fossils resembling popcorn. Nestled between azure waves and jet-black rocks, the scene evokes imagery straight out of a sci-fi epic, a testament to the surreal allure of Fuerteventura’s landscapes.