During my visit to the Spanish Island of Lanzarote, I took a day out from travelling the coast to go inland and see the national park. Though I knew that Timanfaya was the site of a six-year series of volcanic eruptions starting almost three-hundred years ago, I was shocked to see exactly the toll it had taken on the countryside.
For miles around the site of the eruption stretches a frozen sea of churning black stone and lava rock. Like the surface of a rippling lake that has been shattered from below. Not much but lichen and the occasional hardy shrub grows there, the other life is mainly comprised of insects that scuttle between the fissures in the rock. The only relief from this black expanse is a single road that cuts through the park.
But it’s oddly beautiful.
Though it’s a testament to the destructive power of nature, it is also a testament to new life. It is an area that helped me imagine what the beginnings of life might have been like. Eventually, the lichen and small animals will give way to a soil, grasses, bushes. Eventually, this area won’t be a scene of devastation but an area bustling with nature.
At the end of the tour of the national park I had food that was cooked by the heat of the still active volcano, which tasted great, although a volcano bbq takes a lot longer to cook something that you would think.
It wasn’t until we were on the way home that we passed the village of Yaiza, a small town right on the edge of the fields of lava rock. I mean right on the edge. Where the lava ends, Yaiza begins. And this is where we were told the story of The Priest of Yaiza by the tour guide.
According to the guide, the Priest of Yaiza was a man named Father Andrés Lorenzo Curbelo, and he was the man who recorded the eruptions as they happened. This much we know is true.
Then we get to the legend.
The Priest of Yaiza, steadfast in his religion and worried about his beautiful little village, decided to make his way up towards the erupting volcanoes. Just remember that these volcanoes were shooting out lava bombs the size of smart cars and a gargantuan amount of lava. Once he reached the edge of one of the volcanoes he lay prostrate and prayed for the volcano to leave his village and the people who live there.
He returned to the volcano every night for a month and prayed for the volcano not to destroy his village. And when the lava eventually reached his village, it stopped. And that is all there is to the story
And that is all there is to the story, but it is an interesting little tale from an interesting little place. It is almost believable that this one man’s faith stopped the tide of lava, especially when you see just how close to the village it stopped.
So I think I’ll end this with Cinquain that I thought of whilst I was on the coach:
At the black peak
Kneeling before brimstone
Not wondering ‘is faith enough?’
Thanks for reading!