Property Rights – Who has the right to live on Fuerteventura?

We are in Fuerteventura (the center of nudism – but before you get interested I only said that to get Google’s attention, & my clothes have been firmly secured to my body) having a week winter break – you would be very happy here, trust me.

Its nice to have a winter break to stop the long nights getting to you. The Hotel is lovely – & we had a long 6 hr walk yesterday – it’s how I like it not too hot, but still sunny. Last night we had front row seats for “The 4 Tops” some nice old 70s music – I had forgotten how good they were. We got up & danced & then I got up on stage to dance with them. My wife said that I upstaged them – but they didn’t seem to mind too much. Anyway – I seem to have become a bit of a celebrity in the hotel, several people have approached me & one is suggesting a petition to get me in Jon Seargent’s place in Strictly Come Dancing.

Today we hired bikes & cycled along a track that runs along the North coast from Corralejo West towards El Cotillo. From a property perspective it gave interesting lessons & thoughts about the evolution of property ownership in society & history.

El Cotillo

Initially the track ran past a few homes that couldn’t be described as more than shacks – generally made from driftwood, pallets, anything else washed up, obviously lacking power & water. One had a whole gang of young men practicing their Stilt-walking & Juggling (very impressive they were too!) outside a rusted & long dead Mercedes Mobile Home. Presumably the occupants don’t own the land, don’t pay taxes, & live outside recognised “society”. They have the joy of an independent life & are beholden to no one but their god.

View Cycle to Majanicho in a larger map

The next shack had dogs locked in large cages outside, ropes marking the limits of the property, & a semblance of order cleanliness & care. Further along the coast was a home which was well painted, had TV aerials & so presumably a generator somewhere, chickens ran wild, a dog stood guard, the shack faced onto a perfect natural harbour, with its own private beach. A stack of sunbeds showed that the owners boasted a level of lifestyle that we all aspire to. Next we came across a shanty town – about 20 dwellings in similar style (cobbled together from detritus or caravans) but arranged with a street. I scolded the Mrs. for running the red traffic light! (joke). Some of the houses/caravans had set up large plastic containers which held water on piles of rocks, piped by hosepipes to their home.

Finally we came to Majanicho – the third millennium’s Iron Age Village, & obviously of enough significance to feature on the map. I suspect that again the occupiers have no property right, & have just built a home in a suitable place. But what a lovely lifestyle, every home boasted a BBQ, table A perfect natural harbour had 3 tiny fishing boats moored, & a beach of perfect white sand meant that just had to halt & take in the sun. Each of the houses was well maintained & painted, though most of the structures resembled those kit concrete garages that used to be sold in the 1970s – again there were about 20 homes arranged in a crescent around the beach & harbour – several with generators & TV aerials, but now things turned surreal.

El Majanicho

El Majanicho

Glancing up onto the hillside one could see a tarmaced road & street lighting. Streetlighting? – we are standing in a beautiful community devoid of modern life, & certainly no mains electricity, yet 50 yards away there is a modern road with street lighting!

We cycled up the hill to investigate, finding the going made easier by the aforementioned tarmac road which stretches into the distance & over the horizon of the Caldera Hondo. There we found a modern version of the triumphal arch announcing to the world “Origio Mare” and all along the hillside we can see hundreds & thousands of villas – a modern town, but somehow devoid of life. We cycled through the arch & down the town ring road, up into the center of town. Line after line of identical, beautiful villas, all with roof terraces, clustered around communal swimming pools & tennis courts, each one neatly numbered with an immaculate garden. But just like some strange 1960s Science Fiction film it seemed that the Triffids had come & devoured the occupants. The house numbering went up to at least 1150 – so that town should have had at least 4000 occupants, but in fact it had less than Majanicho – it didn’t even have a dog.

An investigation on the internet reveals that the development has been going for 5 years and has had it’s fair share of controversy. Websites imply that people have been buying places there for 4 years, I don’t know about that, all I can say is – trust me, I cycled round the place today, it is dead, no one lives there. Zero people, zero cars parked, nobody, nothing, nada. I promise.

What madness is it that builds a town & then doesn’t inhabit it? I haven’t investigated yet, but I suspect when I do I will find the dead hand of an EC grant, or the cruel blow of the Credit Crunch behind those 1200 empty homes.


It leaves me wondering which life is more logical – the life of the free spirit who makes his home on land that no one else is claiming, out of the flotsam & jetsam rejected by the world, or the power of science & engineering which can build a town of modern comfort & technology, & then shut it up in mothballs.

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2 Responses to “Property Rights – Who has the right to live on Fuerteventura?”

  1. Sam says:

    Great post – reminds me of that parable of the businessman and the fisherman:

    The Fisherman’s Parable

    An American businessman was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them. The Mexican replied only a little while. The American then asked why didn’t he stay out longer and catch more fish?

    The Mexican said he had enough to support his family’s immediate needs.

    The American then asked, but what do you do with the rest of your time?

    The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, senor.”

    The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution.

    You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

    The Mexican fisherman asked, “But senor, how long will this all take?”

    To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

    “But what then, senor?”

    The American laughed and said “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

    “Millions, senor? Then what?”

    The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

  2. Tina Johns says:

    I think they’ve finally got it sorted now :)

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