The newcomer arrives in the centre, walking along the capital’s coastline to suddenly, in the middle of a modern and busy avenue, be met with the majestic Casa Amarillo, a monument to days gone by. Days that were perhaps better, or perhaps just further away.
The Cabildo Viejo, as it is known by the locals, after its restoration, became Lanzarote’s current Data Centre, or it could be said, a treasure trove where the island’s past is kept safe. It is the beating heart of the memories of its people and its changing reality. Far away from the public eye, the island leaders wanted to open it up to exhibit a few small traces of that past. Bit by bit, tourists who did not know much about the island’s history, could begin to picture it and recreate it in all its details.
That’s why it opens its doors every day to show the meticulously-made exhibitions, depicting the reality of the island through a prism of colours. At first, the past of the island was raw and tough and this is reflected in the photographs of the great photographer and Lanzarote native Jacinto Alonso Martin, “Lanzarote through glass.”
The newcomer remains, an indiscreet ‘voyeur’, looking through the glass at the lives of others of a different time. The memories of others. The memories of people who were here before the newcomer came to enjoy it.
The old islanders look at the newcomer apprehensively; these folk are the guardians of an ancient culture, tireless fighters against poverty and destitution on an island that was once relegated to surviving on whatever the sea and countryside could provide. It was never much. Their gaunt faces stuffed into their souls, as those images also show, sometimes festive, sometimes heartbroken; at times it is a mirror held up to the gut-wrenching poverty, at odds with the wild beauty of an island destined to be so much more.
Then, the visitor, who is now used to long stays on the island, heads back towards Arrecife. He finds himself back at the Casa Amarilla, where he comes across a new exhibition advertised on its doors, “Celluloid landscape. Film shot on Lanzarote” and Raquel Welch looking spectacular in a suggestive bikini, inviting him in. To take a new look into the island’s past. A time that was more glamorous and loaded with stars, heartthrobs and glittering stars. Seductive smiles, endless legs, low-cut necklines, promises of celluloid from the mouths of Rachel Welch, Rita Hayworth, Omar Shariff, Alain Delon, Dennis Quaid and Penélope Cruz… from the creative minds of Pedro Almodóvar, Juan Antonio Bardem, Werner Herzog and Wolfgang Petersen.
The visitor heads out again, along the beautiful capital coastline, leaving the Casa Amarilla behind, vowing to come back next year to discover more secrets that this island has to hide, by returning every year, he gradually becomes part of its very existence.