We walked through the center of Santa Cruz de La Palma.
A Mass ends inside the church of El Salvador and believers return to the dim light of the gray day and a healthy secular coexistence.
Francis – the guide we have during some tours around the island confirms the religiosity of the palmeros and also his love for the good life, preferably outdoors: “We here in La Palma are probably among the most Latin American Europeans there are.
We have the second best tobacco in the world, after Cuba, of course. We are also big fans of “pure” smoking and parsley, from rumba and other Caribbean rhythms.
In La Palma there are no clubs. There is street music and, most of the time, live.”
For those visiting the westernmost part of the Canary Islands for the first time, it is difficult to say which of the two aspects occupies most of the residents' minds.
Anyway, the palmeros they have good reasons to give themselves to the faith of heart and soul.
O volcanism Potentially Blasting the Island of La Palma
According to a considerable part of the scientific community, they live half-walls with a gigantic time bomb whose detonation period has not yet been deciphered.
The next day dawns even more leaden but the rain doesn't disturb the way to the La Caldera de Taburiente National Park.
We go through a tunnel dug into the mountain that Francis assures us that the natives treat by del Tiempo: “It's just that when we enter from the other side and the weather is bad, it's almost guaranteed that, on the opposite, it will be good.”
We gradually climb the slope until we reach a section covered with lush pine trees, which the sunlight saturates with an eccentric yellowish-green.
From there, we can see the supreme contours of the caldera of the great volcano of La Palma, traversed by a caravan of clouds that the prevailing winds manage to force into the crater.
Bearing in mind the ecstatic beauty and natural peace that is experienced, we wonder how the palmeros to the unexpected media and globalized alarmism around its mother island.
The Great Leap of Expected Eruptions to an Apocalyptic Tsunami
After the Southwest Asian tsunami of December 25, 2004, the media rushed to find possible successors.
The BBC, in particular, released the documentary “Megatsunami, Wave of Destruction” based on the theory arrived at by Stephen N. Ward and Simon Day.
The duo developed a computer simulation of the effects of an eventual collapse of the western slope of the Cumbre Vieja volcano (1949 m) over the Atlantic Ocean, triggered by a large eruption.
The simulation estimated that the debacle would generate huge waves.
They could have, in origin, 900 meters high.
After three hours, they would reach the Iberian Peninsula – to the north – with about 5 meters, but after more than six hours of crossing, they would still reach the Caribbean islands, several of them as volcanic or more.
They would also hit the opposite coasts of North and South America, with between 10 to 15 meters where they would cause overwhelming destruction.
Since 2005, the media has made the most of the audience-raising potential and turned this scientific study into a mega-eruption of sensationalism.
More and more channels, magazines and websites used the duo theory to develop documentaries and articles.
Almost always committed to easy hysteria, with the North Americans leading this carnival, promoters of Hollywood images of giant waves swallowing the inevitable island of Manhattan.
The Cumbre Vieja Time Bomb Volcano and its Various Craters
The Cumbre Vieja remained undaunted and serene. On September 19, 2021, it erupted again and on October 10 (revision date for this text) it remained so.
From intermediate altitudes as we walked, we ascend towards Roque de Los Muchachos, at 2426 meters.
There, we are on one of the highest points in the Canary Islands and in the whole of Macaronesia, which, for this reason, has hosted one of the best space observatories in the northern hemisphere, alongside that of Mount Mauna Kea, neighbor of the Kilauea volcano that generates most of the Big Island lava rivers.
A cloud cover below prevents us from seeing the scenery of La Palma, Tenerife and the supreme volcano El Teide.
With no alternatives, we head north and approach the western coast, which we have covered almost the entire length.
Through picturesque villages but also through lava fields until we approach the exact area of La Palma, which can yield at any time and which caused all the commotion.
We pass the colorful houses of Los Canários and Fuencaliente.
Shortly thereafter, we are ascending to a new crater, this time that of the San Antonio volcano, one of several that appear on the long slope of the Cumbre Vieja.
The cone is black, covered with a land of lava overlaid by old eruptions.
In contrast, fearless pine trees sprout from the bottom of its crater.
By itself, the scenery is worthy of amazement but it doesn't stop there.
An Installation of Homesick Furniture near the San Antonio Summit
We walk along a narrow path that goes around the crater and we come across some art installation that someone had temporarily left exposed on the ground.
A center of the room from the 50s – or, whatever, the 60s – stood out from the dominant blackness.
It was composed of a sofa, a lampshade, a rug, an old wooden radio and, on top of it, a TV made of the same material and from the same period.
Mystery thickens, like the mist that hovers in the distance over the sea in case of collapse, the receiver of the vast slope below us and the culprit of the Atlantic Apocalypse that would follow.
In the past, other landslides could have generated enormous destruction had it not been for the area in which they were found to be virtually uninhabited.
On July 9, 1958, one of Alaska's frequent high-intensity earthquakes caused the landslide of a slope in Lituya Bay.
The 30 million km3 of land released created a wave that reached 500 meters in height.
The Dreaded Collapse of the South Coast of La Palma and the Controversial and Dreaded Cataclysm
However, if that happened, the release of the Cumbre Vieja would release 500 million km3.
The resulting wave would disperse over an area incomparably wider than that of the Alaskan Bay.
To the south, we see Teneguia, another sub-volcano of the Cumbre Vieja, let's call it that – the last non-submarine in La Palma to erupt, in 1971, with one of the volcanic activities the thinnest and shortest ever recorded in the Canary Islands.
Lately, it has been the nearby volcano El Hierro to take the lead. Since mid-2011, it has suffered nearly 10.000 earthquakes caused by magma activity at the island's base.
Some have approached 4.5 on the Richter scale, figures that have already forced authorities to ban fishing around and even divert traffic from more sensitive parts of El Hierro.
The media wasted no time.
In recent months, they have again raised awareness of the imminent risk of the collapse of the Cumbre Vieja and of a tsunami, caused by an eruption due to the widespread intense activity of one – or several – of the El Hierro volcanoes, just 128 km away.
From there, from the top of San Antonio, the only thing we saw plummeting into the sea was the almost scarlet sun that the Atlantic swallowed without any oscillation.
At that moment, we had more to worry about than the mere destruction of the civilization we knew. Night fell and the cold began to bother us.
Finally, in the second half of September 2021, the Cumbre Vieja erupted and, to date, has generated a destructive lava flow that has razed hundreds of homes.
Nature is capricious. We wait and see.