Carl and Gerlinde (installation #50)

Carl always knew that he would never ever spend a single day, not even a few hours or minutes and seconds vacationing on the Canary Islands – and definitely never on Lanzarote!

After all, what business did he have in this pitch black lava excrement where absolutely nothing reasonable grew, yet where ever new overfed hordes of tourists from Germany and England bent their backs in ecstasy whenever they saw a small green blade of grass making its slow way from the cold magma towards the heavens after no more than two hundred and fifty years. Said blade of grass was certain to speed towards the sun during the next few centuries at a growth rate of at least nine-tenth of a millimetre per decade …

Well, what else was that blade of grass supposed to do, since there was no ground water at all in this holiday resort? And the ah-so-life-giving rain, too, only deigned to fall in minimum amounts on a maximum of eighteen days each year. Which is why even the twenty-five million years old volcanic cones next to the magma deserts also managed no more than a quasi-whispered shimmer of green on the sparse volcano sides. After all, there was no other volcanic region in the whole world where similar masses of tourists have ever experienced fewer drops of rain, and would continue to witness as little rain in the future – as on Lanzarote!

No – it was definitely not a place Carl wanted to see first-hand. Not at all!

His sitting in a Condor machine to Lanzarote with Gerlinde nevertheless was more a blunder than anything else and perhaps exclusively due to the fact that, after the last agonizing forty-three weeks at work, he needed a few days away from the firm and away from Gerlinde’s constant Canary Vacation pestering. Nothing more needed to be said on it! Except that the Iberostar Hotel with a view of the ocean that Gerlinde had booked, at first sight and if you made a few concessions, did not seem to look all that bad, did it?

Mind you, all this ocean in front of your nose tended to get a little boring after no more than five days, regardless of said ocean being really wonderfully blue and showing it, too. The water then again looked grey and grey-blue with white foam crowns and, of course, totally pitch dark at night unless a sliver of moon was mirrored in a strange way therein. But this baroque game of colours still could not contribute towards a drastic change in Carl’s emotionally unbalanced frame of mind, because when all was said and done, it came down to simply being water, water, and again water – instead of a mountainous landscape with glaciers, ravines and aeries. That much remained facts, even if Gerlinde was not prepared to admit it and immediately countered all his grumbling about the ocean with a pout as big as a huge wave.

And as far as this aforementioned ocean was concerned – there was no way you could avoid it on Lanzarote, not even on the endless boardwalk!

No, it was absolutely impossible!

Because if Carl moved from south-west to north-east next to his Gerlinde, he had it on his right side – and vice versa: when he moved from north-east to south-west, it was, naturally, on the left side: the ocean! And whenever he sipped his elaborately served and beautifully warmed brandy ’Carlos I’ in one of the millions of pubs along this boardwalk, it was not to his left or to his right, but, of course, right in front of his nose. And the same was true when he ate his ’shrimps with garlic’. And when he ate pizza with Cortado, it was no different – except if he quickly disappeared to the toilet. There was no other way to avoid the ocean.…

And, naturally, this ever-present ocean was also constantly accompanied by a just as ever-present wind. In fact, more often than not is was quite a storm that raised Carl’s hair to point south-east whenever he had forgotten his baseball cap. In the afternoon, the same wind was camouflaged as tepid ’Calima’ and had come all the way from the one-hundred-and-forty-six kilometres away Africa to direct his no-longer-abundant hair towards the west. Quasi as a free extra, it also filled both his nostrils with the most fine-grain Sahara sand. The same was true for Gerlinde’s golden nostrils.

It goes without saying that the ocean also had a word or two of splashing to contribute when they ate their lunch: the battle was far from won when Carl and Gerlinde, after having waited ninety minutes before a table near the ocean that had then been cleaned by a diligent waiter and set with cutlery and the menu by another before a third one took their order of ’Cervezas’ and the next waiter that of the actual food, finally sat down. After all, the suddenly occurring change of waiters around noon naturally necessitated a totally new ordering process of the desired garlic shrimps and sardines.

But then: so what? After all, Carl and his beloved Gerlinde were on vacation and they had this absolutely heavenly view of a very blue ocean that, even far out on the horizon, never seemed to lose its blueness…

But when, at long last, the ordered Sardines arrived thirty more minutes later, which was considerably after Gerlinde’s sizzling ’garlic shrimps in the pan’, they looked surprisingly good even to Gerlinde’s sceptical Carl. Unfortunately, they also seemed to look good to the not-at-all bashful seagull that sat on the dangerously close boardwalk fence. Said seagull was even quicker to grab his second sardine with its beak than Carl had been to pick up the first one on his fork.

Carl was quite perplexed when he gazed after the bird as it hastily flew out onto the damned ocean with its pickings. Since Garlinde, full of laughter, did the same, he at least managed to alleviate his unfortunate situation by pinching a few of her garlic shrimps unnoticed and accompanying them with some of her Cerveza.

Of course, this fight about food continued in the evening when they sat at dinner: in the dining room, however, it was not the seagulls who emptied the half-empty plates for Carl and Gerlinde but the overeager army of diligent service persons who apparently were paid at piece rate. What else could have caused them to take the plates of their guests away so dextrously that said guests frequently rammed their forks into the table by mistake whenever they tried to pick up the last remnants of meat or baked paprika? And it was quite normal that tables were cleaned and newly laid three times during a single breakfast – and all this while Carl and Gerlinde kept getting new breakfast eggs, small bowls of marmalade, butter, croissants, poppy seed rolls, fried bacon, cans of tea, coffee and orange juice!

It was really bad news – almost as bad as the damned tv program, where, due to the hell of a time shift, Carl missed all news about Donald Trump and Recep Erdogan, and often even the national soccer league and the ’Tatort’ that, after all, for practically all Germans – except Gerlinde – had replaced the church visit when it came to marking a Sunday – which was even worse. …

But the worst of all was this terrible fuss they made about that strange César Manrique’ on Lanzarote!

Apparently, he had lived exclusively in magma bubbles and implemented an entire concert hall for an audience of six hundred into his bubble, along with a discotheque in his subterranean dungeon where, next to the dance floor, white, fingernail-sized, almost blind albino crabs crawled in a totally clear pool of water. Normally, those crabs only existed a thousand metres below in the ocean, but here and now in this pool, they spent all their lives eating the algae that grew there on these few square metres of lava. Mind you, they did it day after day, week after week, year after year in total darkness – what a terrible life this must be, thought Carl, who felt a cold chill go down his spine whenever he thought about it. Compared to such a life, his life with Gerlinde – even here on Lanzarote – was actually a gift of God, wasn’t it?

KH
(Translated by EG)

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