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Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Goodbye to the port of the North

Depiction of the eruption of 1706

The eruption of the Garachico or Arenas Negras volcano on May 5, 1706 was the volcanic phenomenon with the greatest economic and social impact that occurred on the island of Tenerife, which devastated El Tanque and part of the town and port of Garachico. It affected houses, palaces, convents, and even the church of Santa Ana, but the municipality's greatest source of wealth, its port, was razed and buried by lava flows, profoundly changing the socio-economic development of the region and of the island of Tenerife. 

With the ship still moored to the Garachico dock, Manuel said goodbye to Carmita and their little daughter. He was still worried about the tremors and shaking he felt that night but the tasks of stowing the ship took that disturbing thought out of his head.

He jumped up on the board that led him to the brig "William & Mary", chartered, as always, by Gilbert Smith, the Irish merchant who bought all the Malvasia produced from Garachico to Punta de Teno. Smith lived in El Guincho and was a very dear person because it was not known how he always needed to buy more and more wines that he sent to London and other ports in Europe.

Many of those vineyards belonged to several of Juan's cousins ​​and some of his friends who did not even understand the English language that Manuel learned on each trip and with which he hesitated so much. But he was always happy knowing that he helped everyone by selling it and supporting many families in the area.

In addition, this particular trip made him very excited because the Irishman allowed him to bring new belongings for his new house. He had already thought of a sideboard, a large bed, and beautiful satin curtains. That and some little surprise for Carmita, of which she did not know anything.

Manuel was making his second trip of the year to London that day and it mattered little to him that Spain was at war because he had already emerged victorious from a privateer brawl. Brave and proud he said goodbye from the dock of the small cove that sheltered them from the impetuous sea of ​​the north of Tenerife.

Half an hour later the ship left the dock and a roar was heard that alerted all the crew. Even more so when some stones were detached from the cliffs near the pier and hit the sea.

In view of the threat, Captain Barkin ordered all the sails to be deployed and the William & Mary headed north out of the waves that beat at the mouth of the dock.

Manuel remembered again the night tremor and the roar of the mountain. Restless and with a cold sweat he toiled with the rigging that that afternoon gave him a lot of trouble. Thinking of his daughter and the new crib he was planning to bring, he continued for a couple of hours struggling with the rigging.

Two hours later, with the island still on the horizon, thunder was heard that alerted everyone, who ran towards the stern of the ship. It came from the island and after the thunderous noise they saw the red glow that illuminated the profile of the island. Then more explosions and red and yellow tongues that illuminated Garachico.

Manuel and other crew members asked Captain Barkin to return to see what was happening. The Irishman refused and after a brawl, his official ordered north, arguing that it was fireworks.

Hours later the red light went out on the horizon. Manuel did not sleep wondering what those noises and explosions could be. On that trip he did not sleep and nightmares haunted him. Despite them he arrived in London and bought what was promised for his family.

He did not know then that in Garachico there was no longer a house or family, which he only understood three months later when he returned to the island.

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