La Laguna does not give up

The neighborhood of La Laguna suffers the fury of the lava flows from the Tajogaite volcano, abandoned to its fate after the evacuation of its 1,600 residents. They don’t give up. They defend the opportunity to rebuild their neighborhood from the ashes, they defend the return to the usual places to strengthen their roots with a territory that has seen them grow.

Marcelino Rodríguez is a neighborhood benchmark. Through the social and cultural work that he directs from the Velia Instruction and Recreation Society, whose premises have already succumbed to lava, he has formed a close and committed personality. His house still stands, “you get used to the idea.” “We are ready, you know the outcome and that’s it,” he reflects and that is why he prefers that the advance of the lava achieve its devastation “the sooner the better”.

Marcelino Rodríguez has seen that half of his neighborhood has disappeared. Everything that has been lost “is material,” although he regrets that inside those houses “there is something that is memory.” He refers to the fact that both La Laguna, and the now-defunct Todoque, “are not dormitory neighborhoods where you go to work and go back to sleep.” “This is not a rural neighborhood or dormitory, here we have raised our lives,” says Marcelino Rodríguez excitedly. And it appeals to its roots in a territory from which “it is difficult for us to leave.” “If we leave, we will build the little house next door”, since it is not only the memory of one person, “it is about many generations left behind.” And he underlines it: “those walls are important.”

Marcelino Rodríguez is moved and says that, although “now we are all crying for everyone,” when it is his house’s turn to succumb to the lava, he will cry with his family. A different case is when the school is destroyed. “All of us who were there will cry, when the church falls the same thing will happen to us because we pray together and get baptized in it, and the same thing happens with the square because we were partying there,” Marcelino said.

The same occurs with the Velia Society, founded in 1932, in the middle of the Republic, “with the efforts of many people,” says this resident of La Laguna. It was a true advance for the time, in which men and women shared the direction and management of cultural and social activity. He regrets that “the building is leaving”, although they have had time to withdraw its material history and documentation. Despite the destruction, “the society will continue to exist,” defends one of its leaders.

Marcelino Rodríguez also appeals to the need for them to “talk about us.” “More should speak so that they do not forget us and that resources arrive,” he insists and shows his rejection of those who, ignoring the insular reality, argue that “about volcanoes we should not live here.” And before these arguments, the voice of the neighbors is forceful. “We have lived here since before the Conquest,” Marcelino defends himself. “Nobody can come to value our history.” But he also remembers that “it is not yet the day after”, since the emergency has not ended, he recognizes that he would like to stay in La Laguna. He proposes that the neighborhood grow northward, because “we need a place to put up a sign with the name of the neighborhood.”

“Later on we will be able to think of another center, with a small square and a church with San Isidro,” the patron saint of La Laguna, and where they are allowed to re-plant their roots and create “that more or less equal environment.”

«We have to continue»

Through tears, Marcelino Rodríguez regrets that they will no longer go “to church, or to the pharmacy, nor will we see the children pass by to go to school. We will no longer buy the cylinder at the gas station. We won’t see people having breakfast at the Central Bar. It was his life and there is the life of generations of palm trees that preceded him. “And we will see it elsewhere because we have to continue living,” he consoles himself.

Javier González is a neighbor and a young businessman. A few years ago he decided to invest the savings earned from his work in the banana plantations in the creation of an audiovisual company. With “brutal efforts” to move it forward, he stumbled on the volcano. Weeks ago he began to remove the audiovisual material from the warehouse located on the slopes of La Laguna Mountain. “I saw it coming,” laments Javier González. “Since the lava reached the Callejón de la Gata Industrial Park, it was clear to me that it was going to reach my ship.” And, as a connoisseur of the terrain, he assures that “lava is not like water and its behavior is not the same.” It does not follow the channels of the ravines in the area.

Still with some humor, waiting to know if the advance of the lava affects his property, he admits that he has moments of “down” and, instead, others in which his heart is going to “go out”. “We have to look to the future,” he overcomes.

In monitoring the effects of the washings, he verifies that it is precisely at the height of his company where the lava, which runs parallel to the Tazacorte road, taking half the neighborhood of La Laguna ahead, will collide with the slope of the mountain. He has “assumed” that the lava will not flow south. “He is going to find the fastest way out, which is to the north,” he laments, since he points to a large unevenness in the terrain at the back of the mountain and will continue towards the sea. Javier González assume that he is going to lose the place, but he is calm since all «the material is out». Now it is already looking for a new location where it can continue developing its business activity, although “we are going to fight so that the roots of the neighborhood do not disappear.”

It is difficult for Javier González to think that nothing will be the same. “It touches a lot what is happening because it is our people,” he says. It is a hard feeling to face. Losing the traditions of seeing the same people, in the same places and doing the same old things.

Clara González is another neighbor who had her house at the Cruz Chica crossroads. That space no longer exists and neither does the house. It is under meters of lava that devastated the area at dawn this Thursday. “You never get to value what you have until you lose it, but I do,” Clara González is excited. And it is that he values ​​his house “a lot”, each one of its corners, “what was lived in it at all times.” She grew up on it, and she’s proud. “La Laguna has been, is and will continue to be the place where I want to write my future,” he says. with a memory to his great friends. “Those you knew on the bus when you went to school when you were 13 years old and whom, over time, every pilgrimage you would find all of them in the square,” he recalls.

«We ate paella sitting on the wall of the Velia Society. That was happiness », she highlights excitedly. “I will no longer decorate the house with his mother at Christmas, nor will I park the car on the islet at the crossroads, without being fined.” You will always remember your garden that your mother cared for lovingly. He will return in dreams since in his memory he “will always be”. Although they have been under the lava.


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