Friday, 23 May 2014

The divine and devil in ‘El Pico del Teide’

For the third time I visited ‘el Teide’, the most important volcano on the ocean island Tenerife. This May I came from the south of the island, which is said to have  been a desert for millennia.  Again El Pico del Teide —the Teide Peak— impressed me with its bare moon-like landscape. The soil seems fresh erupted ‘black lava’ of hard rock fragments; on other places it is covered with gentle hills of cream coloured sand dust, which actually is volcanic ash.  Like what came down from Iceland some years ago, remember? Nothing grows on it. Its earth seems as dead as the native aboriginal people the Guanches, who lived on the islands until the Spanish conquerors arrived at the end of the 15th century. The Guanches believed in the mythology of the Teide and many legends survived, telling us of its divine legacy. It was thought the Teide held the most devilish forces in its crater. Personally I can understand some of that, as a decade ago our suspicious German workshop leader felt drawn to jump into the crater, believing we all would be saved by extraterrestrials. Tenerife is known for its UFO connection. So glad the jump was prevented by the local police!

Nowadays the island lives off the more attractive energies of tourism and the banana export. You see their polytunnels everywhere. Like the native Canary Pine tree the residents have adapted to live off what the land can offer — or they moved away. The abundantly growing pine tree is fire resistant, from blackened trunks they simply rise again into the green. They possess an amazing water-collecting system in their leaves to survive the long periods of drought. It only rains 14 days a year. What a difference with Scotland! We enjoyed the sunshine and warm breezes that cooled down the island. Thank you,  beautiful island of Tenerife!

© text and photo: Adriana Sjan Bijman 

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