A large group of decorated boats of all sizes -fishing boats, yachts, barges, the El Rayo Navy patrol boat, boats, Fred's two catamarans. Olsen, the Armas …- waits at the entrance of the pier of San Sebastian de La Gomera while the chácaras and drums begin to sound, the "¡Viva la Virgen!" and some gomero whistle. It is such a crowd – more than 10,000 people – that the end closest to the pier of Playa de la Villa is covered by a fog of black sand. Then, at 17:42, the fishing boat La Gaviota, in which the Morenita de Puntallana goes, resumes the march towards the shore, leaving behind the rest of the boats, while a group of bathers splashes joy.
The passion is explained partly because everyone has been waiting for five years. But especially for the devotion that the gomeros have to their patron, the Virgin of Guadalupe. In a few places such a small image – just 25 centimeters high – arouses such admiration. "I've been coming since I was born, 53 years ago, to La Bajada, and when I see her in the distance, I get excited … Imagine when I have her near … She is the patron saint of my Island. Dolores Darias Herrera, dressed in a typical gala dress from La Gomera -characteristic for her long blue skirt- and which has been waiting for this moment since early summer on the Isla Colombina. She is accompanied by her daughter Bernarda Arteaga Darias, also wearing a typical costume made by her mother and similarly bristling with the event
The chácaras, the drums and the flying ones that explode at the top of the mountain become a roar when the Virgin of Guadalupe steps on the shore. It is one of the most significant moments of the Lustral Festivities, a tradition that is believed to date back to 1872.
It is also not entirely clear why Guadalupe. The most accepted theory relates this choice to the good relations between the first count of La Gomera, Guillén Peraza de Alaya and Bobadilla, and the monastery of Guadalupe in Cáceres (Extremadura), where an image of the Virgin of Guadalupe is also venerated with tradition own. It was precisely Peraza de Alaya who built the home of the Virgin and from where she started yesterday, as every five years, the image on the biggest day of the Lustral Festivities. Located in the Natural Reserve of Puntallana, the hermitage is the only construction of this coastal area of great scenic wealth that offers one of the best views of the Teide. Until Puntallana only the most devoted go, yesterday no more than a hundred, who have to cross a winding and elongated road to the cliff to reach a dusty road that most make walking. That on the ground. Because at 15:30 hours, at sea, the large group of boats and wait in front of the small muellito to embark and accompany the patron to the capital, all full of faithful engaged in clothing the Morenita de Puntallana throughout the tour sailor.
Possibly the most devoted of all is Pedro Antonio Rodríguez. He is the steward of the Brotherhood of the Virgin of Guadalupe and has been pampered every day for 30 years. "My love for her has no borders, since I was born, by inheritance of the family, I am a total devotee," he says in the midst of the latest preparations. On Sunday he went to the hermitage at 7:00 in the morning and left at 22:00. Yesterday he left earlier because they came to look for the Virgin. Of course, Pedro Antonio Rodríguez had everything prepared. "I have been days of intense preparations, taking care that everything is clean, putting the flags, adapting the hermitage, finishing the decoration … The truth is that I am exhausted but I did not hear it, because of it I am capable of anything," he says. pride.
A party sings the He says you're going to La Gomera in the surroundings of the hermitage while another faithful follower of Guadalupe prepares the drum to give him his best sounds. He is Eduardo Duque, a very popular young man on the Isla Colombina for his defense of musical traditions. Verseador, repentista, professor in the Insular Classroom of Folklore of chácara and drum, Duque explains that it is a doubly exciting day "for the own religious dimension and for all the cultural wealth that is behind this celebration". "I can not help thinking about the number of generations that have built this tradition of venerating the Virgin of Guadalupe, I just feel like one of the many people who make this ritual possible in five years," he says.
It is not surprising that in San Sebastian these days there are more than 15,000 people, almost twice those who live on a regular basis: 8,700. The president of the Cabildo, Casimiro Curbelo, says that for weeks "there is not a single room left" of the approximately 8,500 that La Gomera has.