Last week I returned from a trip to the south coast via the Valley of Santiago del Teide; the place where the Tenerife fires at the beginning of August, finally burnt out. It was frightening to see how close the fire actually came to the town; the earth around its outskirts charred and burnt. Worse was the small town of Valle de Arriba, which looked as though it had been completely encircled by the fire. It was quite amazing to see green oases completely surrounded by evidence of the fire, testament to the random course the fire took.
The area isn’t a stranger to the threat of being engulfed by the force of nature. A hundred years ago lava from the Chinyero volcano eruption lapped at the doors of Las Manchas and Valle de Arriba, and the villages were only saved by the intervention of a procession carrying a statue of Santa Ana to the edge of the lava flowed which duly slowed and stopped. My guess, looking at how close the fire came to some of the villages in the valley, that the saint is going to be credited with another miracle.
Despite the villages escaping relatively unscathed, the surrounding forests didn’t fare quite as well; some of the hills look as though they’ve received nature’s version of chemotherapy, the few remaining trees looking sparse and weak. However, there is hope; on many of the pines at the top of the valley I could see fresh green growth amongst the bare brown branches. They’re resilient these Canarian pines.
The worst area that I saw was the area around the Erjos pools, a favourite with walkers, which has been devastated by the fire, even though the countryside a couple of hundred yards farther on was completely untouched by the blaze. In fact any visitors travelling between Erjos and Icod de los Vinos wouldn’t be able to tell that there had been a fire.
Above Icod, I could see the path the fire took. A broad band of copper coloured pines stretches across the hillside back towards the source of the fire at Los Realejos. To anyone who didn’t know better, it might look like a forest with its autumn colours on display, but of course, we don’t have autumnal colours here.
I couldn’t tell from the road, but my hope is that these pines will be like the ones near Santiago; that there’s still life in the trees.