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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Garachico at the gates of hell

Volcán de Trevejo or Arenas Negras.

By Jesús Villanueva Jiménez (Published in the Revista NT de Binter in its May 2019 issue).

The Villa de Garachico slept at dawn on May 5, 1706. Although not all the locals did so. In the monastery of the Immaculate Conception, the nuns went to Matins. Bernardo finished arranging the load in the cart, while the two mules appreciated the fresh hay that their master had given them; the arriero (muleteer) wanted to leave for San Cristóbal de La Laguna as soon as the sun appeared. Gonzalo, his wife Rosario and their son Manuel worked in the bakery, already at full capacity. Mercedes was breastfeeding her newborn daughter, while Antonio, the husband, who like her had not slept, ate a bowl of gofio and milk, without hurry, to then go to the dock, the most important on the island, where he worked as a dock worker. That morning barrels of wine were due to embark in a galleon that had arrived at port two days ago, and that would leave on course to the Nueva España (New Spain), as soon as its hold was full of the precious merchandise.

There was silence in Garachico, when suddenly, those who got up early felt the ground tremble under their feet. Instantly, another tremor even stronger, a shake that made the furniture wobble and a hoarse roar that came from the top of Montaña Negra, to the south, behind the back of the town. In the convent of the Immaculate Conception, the nuns suddenly silenced the prayer, shuddering, all looking at the mother superior. Bernardo's mules tensed their muscles, kicking the floor, emitting a moan between their braying and the neighing. Mercedes had palpitations, the baby was removed from the breast and cried disconsolately at the sudden reaction of her mother. The people of Garachico rushed into the street, looking towards the mountain that sheltered the town, and, as terrified as they were dazed, watched the sky turn red, heard the thunder of the earth and the ground shudder again. Shouting, some pointed to a trail of lava, red as iron in the forge, poking up the edge of the summit. There was no time to lose, but now the glow of the fire that threatened from the bowels of the earth the lives of the inhabitants of the prosperous locality of Tenerife.

From the 5th to the 14th of May 1706 the Trevejo volcano was vomiting lava. Over the town ran a torrent of incandescent matter that split into two main arms, reducing to ashes everything in its path. A lava arm buried the pier; the other burned the parish church, the convent of San Francisco, the monastery of Santa Clara and the whole street above, where the most sumptuous buildings were. Miraculously, the incandescent river skirted the convent of the Immaculate Conception, freeing it from succumbing under the coals of hell. Men, women, children and the elderly fled to Icod, on foot, on horseback, in carriages, with the most precious or necessary belongings. Thank God, there were no fatalities, but buried by the lava port, the vineyards and half a village, Garachico was plunged into ruin.

Garachico a las puertas del infierno Via: GARACHICO JOYA DE TENERIFE



Volcano Chinyero and Montaña Negro

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