Monday, 9 February 2015

Keep the faith!

I've just got back from Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands, often highlighted as being one of the most clothes-free friendly islands in the world. I would now agree wholeheartedly having visited the three best beaches on the island: Corralejo dunes, El Cotillo and (pictured below) Sotavento. I'm definitely sold on the island both for the people and the places.

Unfortunately this time for the most part the weather was cloudy and windy; not the best from the point-of-view of being comfortable without clothes. We did get one 4 hour slot of blue skies at Sotavento beach though so it was at last nice enough to sit, swim and wander without being dressed. It was here that I saw how wonderful Fuerteventura is for clothes-freedom...but also something that made me think long about how us Brits go about it.

Fuerteventura is special for a reason. Unlike almost everywhere else in Europe and including the other Canary Islands, there are no boundaries to being clothes-free. All beaches are clothes-optional. Our hotel owners even remarked how Corralejo itself had been fine for clothes-freedom. The freedom to be naked is enshrined in the Spanish constitution. Additionally the island has a long and peaceful relationship with 'naturists' and a strong reputation for tolerance. It has historically been one of the most popular islands with German tourists which was likely how the reputation had been won.

I was puzzled then by comments written by Brits on a popular online forum about the island. As commercialism increases and more holiday makers are attracted to the island, it's easy to see why some people loving their clothes-freedom might be worried about further development: new beach infrastructure such as water-sports schools and beach bars opening. However what struck me was the degree to which some naturists are so incredibly defeatist about it! Phrases such as being "forced down the beach", considering some beaches as becoming "no-go areas", lamenting the areas that are now "too textile". British naturism is all about fences...and it extends to putting up fences in our own minds!

At Sotavento, I noticed quickly that as well as the beach being quieter than normal, everyone was dressed. There were quite a number of windsurfers and kite surfers taking advantage of the stiff breeze, but I guess the rather yuck weather for the majority of the week had put people off. The sun coming out appeared to be a remarkable stroke of luck and brilliantly timed just as we parked up. Having read up on the island, I quickly decided that having worn a jumper for most of the previous days, there was no chance that I was going to pass up the opportunity to strip off and enjoy the beach. And here's the thing...once I did so...other people stripped off too!!

The point of the blog is this...Keep the faith people! Stop feeling so negative. Some naturists have an inferiority complex to the point where beaches becoming closed to clothes-freedom will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you are in a place where nudity is allowed, accepted, and historically normal...GO NAKED. Don't wait to see someone else strip off first. Don't assume that just because a kite surfer walks past that he's going to laugh in your face. Of course he won't. Fuerteventura is an amazing island with beaches I want to go back to time and again. Please let's not lose the island's fabulous clothes-free reputation just because more clothed people have come to the beach. Don't move up the beach. Don't go somewhere else. Don't wear a costume just because you feel 'forced' too. Sit in the middle and strip off! And of course, here's the clincher....they will likely be wanting to try it too and will likely take your lead!


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