The third isolation of La Palma by the volcano


La Palma trees and palm trees, both exiled and distributed in other lands and settled on their island, keep hundreds of frustrated flights in your vital luggage. Every winter they can return home for Christmas, or not, and if, in addition to the vagaries of the wind, the detour passes through the airport that gives its name to the detours, that’s another story, as they say in Irma la Douce.

But it is not the same to be stranded on the beautiful island than to remain trapped in the clock of the volcano. And is that the closure of airspace at La Palma airport, the third that has been decreed since the beginning of the eruption of the volcano in Cumbre Vieja as a result of the ash clouds, adds another multilateral upheaval to the island’s upset routine.

The suspension of departure and arrival flights, with the only alternative being the transfer by sea, not only alters the logistics of the shifts and relays of many emergency, security, administration or media professionals who work in the center of the disaster. , but also extends the anxiety of staying in that loop of explosions and ash that marks the hours on the west coast of La Palma.

Last weekend, the prelude to the first month of the eruption that takes place this Tuesday, the meeting of the haze and the ashes in the atmosphere once again paralyzed the air connections with La Palma, which were resumed yesterday morning after almost three days of inoperability, but with flight delays of up to four hours and, finally, another closure. In a certain way, the bubble of isolation and helplessness in the terminal is almost a transcript of the time stopped on the island, which gradually exhausts the forces without being able to overcome the destructive power of life as we knew it a month ago.

Air connections were resumed yesterday morning after almost three days of non-operation, but with delays of up to four hours


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“They have already canceled two flights to Malaga via Gran Canaria together with this one,” an Andalusian researcher shouted yesterday after four days on La Palma, to whom she traveled on her own on her days off to “disconnect and document the volcano, which it is a historical phenomenon ». His flight was not canceled, but delayed a couple of hours, a worker told him.

“I know they are all very nervous, but we are not to blame,” they cried from the counter; to which the passengers replied: “Neither do we.” The truth is that none of them had it. For their part, two Englishmen with a flight to Madrid decided to drown out the wait with beers in plastic cups shouting “Cheers!” His plane was the first to leave the island at around 11:30 a.m. and, before boarding, they toasted again.

Wind

The island of La Palma dawned again yesterday, dusty with layers of sand and lapilli, especially on the west slope that forms the zero eruption zone. This volume of pyroclastic material moved from the opposite side during the early hours of Monday due to the change in the direction of the wind, which cleared the airport area to re-cover the affected neighborhoods of Los Llanos de Aridane, El Paso and Tazacorte.

The cleaners worked against the clock, once again, to condition the runways so that the planes could land and take off without the risk of slipping. Even so, many had already given up and joined those who, throughout the weekend, chose to buy boat tickets so as not to miss their jobs in any case.

After the first departure to Madrid, the rest of the wait in the boarding area corresponded to passengers from flights between islands. In addition to professionals from the Military Emergency Unit (UME) or the Emergency and Rescue Group (GES), family and friends abounded who traveled to La Palma to support their loved ones. “I came to be with my parents in these difficult moments of pain and uncertainty,” revealed Inma, a teacher, a native of El Paso, who lives in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

«The hardest thing is what is already happening. And the worst thing is that, being there or here, it can still get worse. And the only thing we can do is accompany »


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“But this is going to take a long time and I also need to be at home with my family,” he adds. And it is that accompanying also has a very high price of “exhaustion and anguish.” “We need to rest,” said a line of passengers at boarding gate number 6. “I know I’ll be back soon,” said a photographer who also volunteered to help out at the Severo Rodríguez de Los Llanos sports center, moved. “And hopefully when I return I can only portray life after the volcano.”

The question that hung in the air, before the megaphones began to announce the departures to Gran Canaria and Tenerife North, was: is it harder, at this point, to return or stay? “Both things are difficult,” Inma replies. «The hardest thing is what is already happening. And that, being there or here, it can get even worse. And that the only thing the rest of us can do is this: accompany ».

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