July 4, 2022

Tremors in Tradition: Volcano Survivors Shaken but Determined to Rebuild

When the La Palma volcano erupted on October 27, 2011, it left destruction in its wake. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes and villages to escape the lava flow. But many have come back to try and rebuild what they can of their lives.

In the heart of a lush green forest in La Palma, Canary Islands, there is a sacred place that was never touched by the lava. A small area of land where nature has been allowed to take over and grow with no interference from man. The place has been known for centuries as The Enchanted One, but it is not very well known by the islanders, it is simply something that has been passed down from generation to generation.

It was not always so. Once upon a time there was a Spanish nobleman who fell in love with this little patch of land hidden away among the trees and plants. He hiked to this spot every day just to be near it and stare at it, he would sit and meditate among the plants and flowers that grew there. One day he fell asleep and found himself in a very peaceful place surrounded by lots of people who seemed to be waiting for him; they were all dressed in white robes, like angels. They told him not to worry about anything and that he had nothing to fear and that they were there to help him. They told him it was time to go home, but he could come back here whenever he wanted.

When he came back down from the hill there were all these flowers and plants growing in this place where nothing had ever grown before; not only that, (this is the bit I love best) he found a plant growing in the shape of a heart! He picked it up and carried it home with him.

Since then this little patch of forest has been kept safe from those who would harm or destroy it; those that live around here say that if you go into the forest to cut down any trees or plants, as soon as your hand comes near any of the plants in this place, your hand starts to burn and you are unable to move it. People have tried but they cannot take away even one little leaf or flower from this forest.

People say that when the Earth is at its most troubled times, The Enchanted One will come out into the world, appearing where mankind needs it most. The scientists across the world are scratching their heads, trying to work out how the island of La Palma will react when the next big earthquake hits it. Will it crumble down into the sea or will it stay in one piece? It is a very nervous time for everyone living on this beautiful island watching and waiting for that fateful day.

One man who has dedicated his life to seeing that this little piece of magic is kept safe and protected for all time, is Juan Carlos Ruiz Santiago. He knows he can’t stop the earthquakes, but what he does want to do, is show the world how special this patch of land really is. The Enchanted One.

Juan Carlos Ruiz Santiago lives in a little house hidden away just outside the forest, his home is full of trees and plants from around the world. He has been buying them from all over the world for years now to add to his garden, which he wants to be the biggest collection in the world. Today his house is a Mecca for botanists and people who absolutely love plants. It is also a sanctuary for all the creatures that share this planet with us.

One of his biggest dreams was to open up the forest to the public, he wanted them to see what was in there and how beautiful it really was. He had done so much work around here planting new flowers and trees; he had built paths and bridges, so everyone could get in there easily. He wanted the children to learn how to look after this place so they would have something really special when they were older; he felt it was very important for their future.