A kind of feigned calm affects La Laguna, in the municipality of Los Llanos, divided in two since the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on September 19. The church bells, located right in the cut towards ground zero, seem to augur a bad omen. With his hand on his chest and his eyes full of tears, Jorge González, a palm tree from this neighborhood, watches with his neighbors the advance of the lava rivers towards his town. A five-minute drive from the police lockdown is her home, which she has lived in for 56 years and the one she inherited from her mother. “More than an inheritance, that house is my legacy”, Jorge confesses.
The partial collapse of one of the faces of the cone of the La Palma volcano causes runoffs in various directions
Like Jorge, the lagoons who still sleep at home fear the fate of their neighbors. During the night of this Friday, October 8, part of the volcanic cone collapsed, according to one of the members of the Volcanological Institute of the Canary Islands (Involcan), Itahiza Domínguez. This partial fall has meant that the streams jump in all directions. New areas, within ground zero, have been destroyed. In front of the Central bar, a typical local of the town, six neighbors crowd on the sidewalk talking about the possible destinations of the lava. There one of them confesses that he does not intend to cry if the volcano takes his house in Todoque. “I see so much pain around me that I do not cry, even if he takes her away, I do not cry.”
The streets are full of ash, a frequent image on La Palma in the last three weeks. The church square has an offering drawn on the ground and amid the chaos a family takes to the streets after celebrating the christening of their 2-year-old daughter. “We chose this day because it was the date we were assigned and we couldn’t wait,” justifies the baby’s grandmother. Her father helps the woman down the steps, while holding the white baptism candle with the other hand. Four older women also leave mass, commenting on the channels of the volcano among themselves.
In the police cordon, Víctor is with a car waiting to collect the belongings that he has left in his rental home. The 19-year-old palmero has found time after spending all week working from dawn to dusk picking bananas. Victor was studying a degree in Physical Education at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), but dropped out during the pandemic to earn money working in the fruit sector. Now, escorted by agents of the Port Police, he takes everything he can out of his house. Victor throws everything between the trunk and the back of his car. Clothes, food, documentation and a blender were the belongings that he had to rescue from his home.
Seven days ago, the La Palma and Gran Canaria firefighters, together with Civil Guard agents, emptied the La Laguna gas station, right in the gap between evicted and not evicted as a preventive measure.
In the areas around the La Laguna neighborhood, residents have been taking turns for three weeks to get access to pick up what they can. Others, conditioned by the criteria of the volcano, take photographs, cars or trophies from home as souvenirs before the possible arrival of the laundry. Meanwhile, vans leave and pick-ups full of mattresses or refrigerators, an image repeated in the last twenty days, Miguel talks by phone with the University of Toledo about some of his daughter’s documents. Out there, between the present of some and the future of others, time continues to pass.