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Under Teide´s shadow

Mount Teide serenely admires the changes that life draws around its dominion.

From high above the top, the volcanic gaze quietly descends through the Valley of La Orotava, breaks through the steep hill of Tigaiga in Los Realejos, and stops to rest in its black sandy beaches, where it looks at the deep Atlantic from where it was born. When it gets dark, a shimmering starry sky lights up the limits of the impregnable Teide. The trade winds extend their everlasting blanket over the pine woods, and the blue chaffinch birds wrap themselves up with it. A gentle layer of dew covers the centenarian dragon trees from the middle mountain region, and ignites the history of the times that flows through their ancient sap. The kestrels look for their nest among the spurge plants, and take advantage of the maze-like pentagonal stems to stop their among between them. Even the tabaiba shrubs form the coast – home of birds and lizards- benefit from the evening dew to freshen up after the hottest hours of the daylight.
teide-dia teide-noche
The people who live under the great volcano’s shadow believe that those who reach the top can touch the stars. Every night, the celestial bodies appear big and clear, like diamonds over a nocturnal brooch, and their glow bathes the streets of every town and village. At dawn, a thick sea of clouds, white and cotton-like as a donkey’s belly, spreads across Taoro’s Valley perfuming every town with the fragrance of retama plants and salt.

Volcano and fire

The origin story goes that the Teide volcano arose magnificently from the depths of the sea by the power of Guayota, the demon that dwells within it.

Achamán y el demonio

The Guanches, the first inhabitants of the island, were scared that one day Guayota would come out and burn everything on his path with his incandescent lava. To prevent this, they pleaded for mercy Achamán, the supreme god, who defeated the demon and trapped him inside the Teide.

Ahuyentando a Guayota

Legend says that from that day on, when the volcano threatened to erupt, the people of the island could feel that Guayota was trying to get out again, so they would light bonfires around the volcano to scare him. If he was able to escape from his burning prison, he would find fire and he would think he was in hell. Thus, he would back away without causing them any harm.

Cruces y Fuegos de Mayo

Some people believe that when the Los Realejos Feast of the Holy Cross and Fireworks arrives, Guayota does not dare to come out of his prison because of the impressive firework displays that happen on the third night of the month. Maybe he fears that the fire and noise is coming from Achamán’s rage and that his volcanic strength would not be enough to defeat him.
Echeyde, as the Guanches used to call the Teide volcano, has been an historic symbol of union and identity for all the inhabitants of the island. Even those who once left, feel the influence of the volcano in their hearts, like the memory of a beloved father who brightens their origins anywhere they are. The foreigners who also decide to settle in the island soon feel the call from Teide, and they surrender before its mighty beauty with utmost respect. In one way or another, Mount Teide is a sacred place, the representation of the good and dangerous, protection and threat. It is an axis mundi from which the four cardinal points leave, but also where they meet again. And it is there, in front of father Teide where our story begins, the history of Los Realejos people and their ancestral festivities.

Teide's children, the inhabitants of Los Realejos

The descendants of Guanches settled all over the island, mixing themselves later with the Spanish colonists after the conquest of the Canaries. The ones from the north are hopelessly linked to Teide’s demanding and benign influence, which equally infuses bravery and prudence.

The abrupt terrain, high and steep in Los Realejos, is not a limiting factor for its inhabitants’ determination. Over volcanic rock, and under the shade of the forest’s crown, they plough the land with such tenacity, that the most varied plantations of cereals, vegetables, root vegetables and fruits grow from it.

The colour green dominates the hilltop and so does the marine thyme shrub on the coast. Exotic flowers in greenhouses compete against wild flowers, which stand out for their fragrance, in gardens and footpaths. Thermophile forests coexist with Laurisilva trees on imposing slopes, like lookouts, which slope down to the town’s five coves. It is there where the undisturbed lagarto (lizard) tizón lives, and it is there where the pardelas (shearwater birds) hide to build their nests, in the same place where one of the most ancient festivals of Los Realejos is born: Las Cruces y Fuegos de Mayo.