This was a trip with many loose ends, but there was a desire to tie them up. We had no outlined script, nor a return ticket, but we knew that the journey would take us from one end of the archipelago to the other, from Lanzarote to El Hierro, passing through its islets. It would all take place over the course of forty days and that a caravan was going to be our home.
By the way, both Dani and I are from the Canary Islands. From Tenerife and Gran Canaria. We met some years ago in continental Spain. We had each left our land to set out on new paths that eventually crossed. It is so true that saying stating that setting out on a journey to see the world is a way to appreciate your homeland, connected to your childhood, full of both good and bad memories.
The idea of returning your homeland as a traveller to re-discover it set the ground for spontaneous things to take place, and this happened to us throughout the whole experience, things that you would never pay attention to in your everyday life there.
Something in our minds changed. Our perception was no longer the same ever since we stepped foot again on our islands, this time as travellers.
In Lanzarote, we were lucky to meet a special person who set the pace of our trip, Javi Polo. We set an appointment to meet him in a small fish bar. From the very first moment he treated us as though we were lifelong friends. He constantly asked us what we wanted to film about. Dani and I looked at each other with excited expressions… We wanted to record everything! See everything! Spend a few days on each island, enjoy the time as much as possible! Javi had a napkin with several contacts and routes in Lanzarote written on it. He provided us with many alternatives and, most importantly, understood our idea despite the fact that it we did not have a clear plan, that we were moulding it as we go.
This is how it all started. The days went by and we started to get increasingly hooked. Visits from here to there, sunrise to sunrise, we would wake up in the caravan, the morning sun beating down against its metal roof. The heat itself woke you up. Coffee, tobacco for Dani, and a notebook to prepare for the next destination. It became an appealing routine, because you never knew what was going to happen next. And thus we moved from island to island. The method: a ferryboat, we would get on with the caravan at night using a back ramp, park it and get onto the ship.
This way, we would be at another island when we woke up. Sometimes, although I do not recommend it, we would not get out of the caravan because we were too tired. We had a bed there! Why getting out to sit on some smelly armchair? But this would take its toll: one night while asleep, I suddenly started coughing like crazy, all the smoke from the caravan’s boilers was coming inside. There was no refrigeration system at all and we went through a tough time. It was a hard lesson to learn, but as they say, live and learn.
Life in the caravan sometimes made things a little complicated for us. We had great times in it. When we could not stand it any longer, we would decide where we would park it for the evening and you could sleep here or there, wherever you wanted, everything was possible. That incredible feeling of being already parked and waiting for the night to fall and the next day to arrive. The collection of stories and the people we had met grew as we moved from island to island. We gathered more paintings, more stories, more images on each island. The rolls of film were filling up the refrigerator. The intrigue surrounding what would come out of those rolls was insane; it was going to be our small heritage, the memory that came closest to reality. I still think about what things would be like had the pictures failed us. It was a lot, too much, in a short period of time, many names, and many anecdotes. All that would have been difficult to retain if we had no way of freezing those moments on film.
They all seem like yesterday. An undefined yesterday. To this day we continue asking ourselves who the people are and what meaning the locations we see in our images have.
Words & Photography. Octavio Barrera
Artworks. Octavio Barrera
“A journey to our homeland”
A short film by Dani Millán for Eldorado
Extract from the documentary ‘Maresía’.
The short film, the documentary and this story are presented in the framework of ‘Proyecto Islas Canarias‘,
co-founded by the two travelers Dani and Octavio. Follow their new-born Instagram @proyectoislascanarias!