On Sunday 19th September at 3:15 a new volcano in Cumbrevieja, La Palma erupted. We were minding our own business watching the number of government vehicles coming out of the ferry and asking ourselves why. Then Ben gave us the news.
We knew that there had been a lot of volcanic activity there and a week (or so) earlier they changed the green code to an amber one. Just the week before we were visiting that area and some friends of ours were on the volcano walking trail. We had shown Karin and Eric Mirador del Llano del Jable (where the volcano is) when they called us the week before.
Waking Up to a black Mistress
There were numerous times we woke up to a grey or black Mistress. The 1st time I slept with all the windows open – because it’s warm in La Palma - and all the volcanic ash came in my room. After that experience and a (very angry mother) I made sure to close all the windows tightly every night.
Then a week after the 1st explosion we woke up with a completely black Mistress. It turned out that Mr Volcano threw ash up up to 1500m (5000ft) and the wind at that altitude was directly to Santa Cruz de La Palma. We stayed in the boat all day as ash was constantly falling down except for mum who walked Millie for 5 minutes. We washed her and the next day Mistress was black again. The process of washing her was repeated and then my mum and I went out to walk Millie. So I went out with a bandanna on my nose as ash was everywhere (in hair, mouth and nose) so you had to cover your mouth and nose. It was like a black sand storm.
The Story of the Locals
Imagine heaven turning into hell. That’s exactly what happened on La Isla Bonita. The western part of the island was one of the prettiest with a beautiful beach and marina in Puerto Tazacorte, astonishing views in El Paso and forests of banana/plantana plantations all around you. All the houses outside of the towns looked like paradises – full of vegetation some of them even having pools. They were massive dwellings with great views and beautiful gardens with stone fences. You could see that they were very cared for.
Now imagine you owning one of those houses. One day you have a beautiful home in a paradise, the next day your home is covered by volcanic lava that cooled down to form a black, ugly bed of stones. Or even worse, imagine relaying on your plantation, one day to wake the next day without any bananas to sell to the European continent. Many people lost everything.
I’ve heard the story of this one lady that had an hour to evacuate her home and say goodbye to her home. She had helped other people to evacuate their homes before and had to stay 4 days confined to her home watching the eruption. Her son also lost his home. Or this other story with a family of 4 generations, who had houses next to each other in the same town and they lost all their houses.
Imagine that many of these people will suffer of trauma or depression after they lost all their earnings, belongings and homes because of the volcano. Where do all those people go? La Palma is a small island and the eastern part doesn’t have the infrastructure for that many people. They have nowhere to call home.
Now I get the English saying I grew up with: don’t keep all of your eggs in one basket. If you do, the basket might fall and you’ll have no eggs left.