A WhatsApp group called Postcard punks (in honor of the song Very punk of the Alava group La Polla Records), made up of a score of childhood friends, has become a blog of the misfortune that plagues La Palma. It is the forum of a gang of adults who life has led through different paths and professions, but who, thanks to technology, have managed to stay together after more than 30 years of friendship. As happens in so many groups of friends, this channel was used to share personal news, links or memes. Until the 19 of September.
That day, the eruption of the volcano in Cumbre Vieja disrupted the lives of the palm trees. Also those of the members of this chat, whose activity ended up monopolized by the advance of the laundry: the anguish, the uncertainty, the loss of properties of some of them and of mutual friends … This is the story in real time, a Through a selection of voice notes and text messages poured into the group, converted into a living record of the drama that spreads in the form of incandescent lava over the day-to-day lives of the more than 80. 000 inhabitants of the island.
The audios and texts, collected and arranged by one of its members, the filmmaker Jose Víctor Fuentes, not only serve as a map of the eruption: they will be the basis of Ashes , a film that Fuentes hopes to be able to offer to audiovisual platforms and with which he will try to raise funds for solidarity purposes.
Héctor Lorenzo, photographer and public official. 19 of September, 10. 57. Center of the Llanos de Aridane: I just noticed a tremor right now.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’ , Endesa technician. 19 of September, 10. 59, Callejón de la Gata: Good morning. Yes, around here too. Two minutes ago I was standing here in the kitchen and even the house creaked. So… Coming, coming!
Just over four hours after this message, at 15 . 10, the La Palma volcano erupts. Authorities evict 5. people from the closest neighborhoods, especially El Paraíso , that during the 24 following hours it would be partially destroyed. The evacuation is extended to neighborhoods in Los Llanos de Aridane, the most populated municipality on the island, such as Callejón de la Gata. La Palma roars and spits fire incessantly. Gusi, with his wife and two children, was among the evacuees. He packed his Volkswagen van as much as he could and moved into an apartment left by his brother. Gone are the children’s toys, among other beloved belongings, and the large cauldron that friends used for parties.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’. 19 of September, 18. 47 . Urban area of Los Llanos de Aridane: Well, guys, I’m here again. They kicked us out ago 15 minutes . The Civil Guard was clearing the street. In La Laguna there are checkpoints, and they are no longer letting people pass to Todoque [este barrio fue desalojado el 21 de septiembre y la lava entró por sus calles el 22]. And I think Puerto Naos [localidad en el municipio de Los Llanos de Aridane] and all that either, obviously. There is already [lava] in the middle of the houses of El Paraíso. By the Rajada Mountain, on the north side, the lava also fell. I think you will reach the main road in 15 … well, half an hour or the same hour. But there are already houses that are being eaten. And it will continue down. At night we will see the llamas and see where it walks. Nothing, praying that nothing happens at home. Not anyone. That nothing happens to anyone out there, by any house. But hey, we’ll see. Come on. I’m still with this …
Efrén Pérez, hotelier. 20 September 1. 47. Downtown Tazacorte: Damn, I’m on the roof of the house watching this and it’s amazing. Man, I know it’s a bitch for a lot of people, but it’s amazing, it’s amazing what I’m seeing. The sound … I hear it from here. It is incredible, incredible … It is that a column of fire is coming up, you can see the lava coming down … my mother! Amazing. I am very sorry for those whom it may affect. Land, houses … but … damn. Impressive.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’. 20 of September, 10. 28. Urban area of Los Llanos de Aridane: Nothing, whatever they find out there. Or Pancho [un amigo del grupo, agente de la Guardia Civil], if you are, or if you ask a colleague if he has climbed or is patrolling the Callejón de la Gata … On the way, not the polygon. That if they go up there and see the houses … to see if they see the lava nearby, or far away. If you tell me something, I appreciate it.
Antonio Hernández ‘Totono’, photographer and commercial. 20 of September, 11 . 59. Triana neighborhood, Los Llanos de Aridane: Come on. Force, friend, you’ll see that everything goes well. Calm and see … What are you going to do? At the moment nothing can be done. Let that walk to see where it falls. Well, you know that here in Triana we are close. Anything give me a touch, okay? Come on, a kiss. Take care, bye.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’. 20 of September, 16. 44. Apartment in Triana, Los Llanos de Aridane: Hi guys. Nothing, Alexis Tijana just called right now, who is with Cabildo issues and that, and it gave me good joy. He passed [se refiere a Tijana], went up the street and in principle everything is fine. That there is nothing on the street, no lava, that you can see that everything is behind it. And that, in principle, much has to be filled to raise that level and get into our street.
Francisco Luis Yanes ‘Fran’, commercial. 20 of September, 19. 08. Urban area of Los Llanos de Aridane: Good afternoon, to say something. Does anyone know about Pitera [Carlos Pitera, miembro del grupo], what am I calling you to see at the end of the farm, if I had to remove things from there or not? I’m calling you and I get the answering machine. I have no idea where they are or how they are doing or anything.
Two days pass. In this time, the volcano has continued on its way and already destroys some 200 buildings. On the night of 21 September opens a new mouth that forces the preventive eviction of between 150 and 200 residents of the Tacande neighborhood (El Paso).
Francisco Luis Yanes ‘Fran’. 22 of September, 15. 05 . Urban area of Los Llanos de Aridane: Hi guys. I don’t know if they heard that loud pop. I was watching Canarian television, and even that boy, the journalist, was scared. I was interviewing a volcanologist and he said no, that when he gives those blows it does not mean that he is going stronger, but that the … this … what is it called? … the mouth is obstructed. And that’s why he gives those pops. And regarding the ashes, it was what Juan Luis [Juan Luis Martín, otro miembro del grupo] said. He said don’t get it wet, because that sticks like cement and eventually the drain or whatever. So that they take it into account. Let them sweep him up, or sweep him up, very carefully and with protection because he is screwed. Have a good night. And no scares.
Héctor Lorenzo. 22 of September, 15. 52. House in Los Llanos de Aridane: And then there is another reality. That many housing settlements that were there, I don’t know … 40 or 50 years, made by old men from there from Todoque in their day, with a half-bad daughter written, maybe with a small deed, maybe neither elevated to public nor anything, with a total lack of property records regarding added works … The typical thing: that they had the little house and they made another room behind it, or another room on top … That they were cheating the legislation and they had it that way. Well, all those people now … And come on, obviously no homeowners insurance. Those who will get paid first are those with the most modern and most supervised dwellings. That the help of the Consortium [de Compensación de Seguros] will come to them in proportion to what they have built and have registered, that they had it as is. And then, all the other cases that can be given to you: land that was not in their name that belongs to the father or an aunt that they had, I don’t know where, that they did not deed but they did know it was theirs and such. That is now going to be chaos. Nobody is going to recover and nobody is going to replace what was lost. That’s clear.
Francisco Luis Yanes ‘Fran’. 22 of September, 18. 15. House in the center of Los Llanos de Aridane: I did hear that people from [el Camino] Gámez [localidad de El Paso] and Tacande [El Paso], the municipalities were telling people to get out of the houses. But I do not know. You have to stay calm and be attentive to the official media. Because I’ve already heard so many things that if you listen to everything people say, you go crazy, don’t snooze and I don’t know. Let’s see, let’s see …
Héctor Lorenzo. 22 of September, 18. 26. House in the center of Los Llanos de Aridane: There are a lot of things circulating out there. Everyone is taking photos … You have to be careful with the information, the only thing it does is get nervous and transfer that nervousness at home to the children and everything. You have to see where the information comes from. Don’t go crazy, damn it, one is going to get crazy on the nerves here. The information will be given by the media that are trained and have the veracity to transfer it. This one that everyone is here to have a good time … That if today a WhatsApp, “is that they told me”, “is that they told me” … Damn, you have to be careful, boy.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’. 23 of September, 09. 14. Apartment in Triana, Los Llanos de Aridane. Loosening does not look like it will loosen in several days. Good morning, first of all. What is true is that a little higher up it is so wide that it has already overflowed above it. Not from the sides, but up the Callejón de la Gata. You can see the lava above, it looks like a wall falling. But hey, let’s see how long it lasts and what this mountain wants to throw out, that it does not overflow and that it continues to widen. Although we cannot say that.
Lorimer Monteith, professional diver. 23 of September. 14. 05. House in Puerto de Tazacorte: Where you can see that laundry is just the house of Santi, a colleague of mine. You will know it. Unbelievable, man, he already took it all, man. OMG …
Relative stability settles on the island during the following week. During this time, the lava has followed a single river that ends up emptying into the sea on the day 28. This relative calm in the eruption is cut short on Friday night 30 of September and the early morning of day 1: two new washes separated from each other by just 15 meters emerge from the Cumbre Vieja volcano. The lava they emit is very liquid and is gaining ground in a western direction, at which time it is destroying new buildings.
Antonio Hernández ‘Totono’. October 1st, 12. 12. House in Triana, Los Llanos de Aridane: Fuck, male. Go fucking without living this. Well, it is already being seen and on top of that it is screwing up houses, male. In the Callejón de la Gata, you will tell me … Well, nothing, well that. To be pending … To follow.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’. October 1st, 22. 37. Apartment in Triana, Los Llanos de Aridane: Thank you for the images [del exterior de su casa] . Yes, I was there this afternoon. And well, on the outside it is made a shit, but what difference does it make. There are days when someone has gone home to party and it has been similar. Well, among all the we will check if this happens and does not go to more, and we will celebrate together. Come on, thank you all. A kiss.
The hopes of Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi’ were seen truncated past 10 October. A day earlier, the northern part of the volcanic cone had given way and poured large amounts of lava that flowed rapidly downhill to 1. 150 degree temperature. Its virulence wiped out most of the few buildings that remained standing in Todoque and, a day later, it ended up passing over his house in Callejón de la Gata.
The laundry has buried the past of Gusi , but it has not been able to with its future and, much less, with its palm tree resistance.
Víctor Cabrera ‘Gusi ‘. 10 October, 11. 24 h. Apartment in Triana: It could not be. After 21 days of anguish came nature and put an end to this life project. Touch start another. Thanks for being there. Friends can not take it any volcano.