I’m all for innovation. Finding ways round problems. Flexibility. Work rounds. Not being defeated by seemingly insurmountable problems. So I should approve of what they’ve done on the island of Fuerteventura.
Yes, just been there. Yes, it’s sunny, pleasant, not tacky, clean, long beaches, great cycle paths, well organised. But it’s also very windy – hence the name Fuerteventura – fortunate/strong wind. (Which reminds me of a previous post.) Good for the spectacular kite surfers and their less stirring paddle surfing mates. But it may also explain why I’ve returned the same hue I was beforehand, and with a stinking cold.
The island is noted for its goats. It’s only recently that the 70,000 human residents outstripped the bovine population. But they seem to have a problem with celebrating the island’s goatishness.
The capital and main port is called Puerto del Rosario – Port of the Roses. Pretty name but also deceptive. Not merely for concealing the usual conglomeration of cranes, warehouses and urban sprawl. But because it’s a rebranding. The original name was Puerto de Cabras – goat harbour.
It only takes a brief look at the barren landscape around to suspect that no roses were ever exported through that port. Lots of goats. They’re easy to spot by the side of the road – though what they eat I don’t know. Stones? Gravel? There must be some grass tucked away.
All those goats give rise to two problems.
Over wrought intense Catholic guilt infused teenagers are advised not to dwell on the imagery within James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen Dedalus could have been looking through his mind’s eye on Fuerteventura:
Creatures were in the field: one, three, six: creatures were moving in the field, hither and thither. Goatish creatures with human faces, hornybrowed, lightly bearded and grey as india-rubber. The malice of evil glittered in their hard eyes, as they moved hither and thither, trailing their long tails behind them. A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces. One was clasping about his ribs a torn flannel waistcoat, another complained monotonously as his beard stuck in the tufted weeds. Soft language issued from their spittleless lips as they swished in slow circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds, dragging their long tails amid the rattling canisters. They moved in slow circles, circling closer and closer to enclose, to enclose, soft language issuing from their lips, their long swishing tails besmeared with stale shite, thrusting upwards their terrific faces
He flung the blankets from him madly to free his face and neck. That was his hell. God had allowed him to see the hell reserved for his sins: stinking, bestial, malignant, a hell of lecherous goatish fiends. For him! For him!
Hey, don’t belittle this aspect. There are direct flights from Ireland. (And all sorts of places, but no decent link to Morocco just 50km away.)
And the other goat-related niggle is the likelihood of driving into them on the roads. So with the combination of the Joyce-burdened, motorised transport and massive goat proliferation – you’d think they erect a few warning signs.
And they do. They’re all over the place. Beware of the cow. The deer. More than one type of dog – often something that looks like an Alsatian.
But if you go looking for deer you’ll be sorely disappointed. There aren’t any. No cows either. It feels like a scam of breathtaking audacity. “Buy tickets for our wildlife tour… Oh, sorry, we must have just missed spotting the majestic stags rutting… Must have spooked them. Er… and that’ll be why we haven’t seen any of the Lesser-Spotted Canarian Cow either.” But there are signs depicting them everywhere, so they must exist, huh?
So what they’ve done, in the absence of any Beware of the Goat signs, is to use deer, dog and cattle-related ones instead. Sure it’s innovative and imaginative.
But why so many goats, isn’t it time they invested in a few hundred goat signs instead? Or at least painted horns on the dogs?
Or perhaps the rest of the world could learn from the Fuerteventura approach to signage. Ireland could commission a set of Honest Politician Ahead signs. (We could probably shift a few of those elsewhere too.) There could be a lucrative line in mythical beast roadsigns.
In the meantime, here’s something else goat-related.