Monday, 9 May 2011

1001 Ways to Use a Volcano

I wrote in a previous blog that I think that the Lanzarotians must be a most resilient, inventive and creative people.  The Canary Islands erupted from the sea millions of years ago. 
Lanzarote's dramatic, mountainous landscape is the result of a fractured Earth spewing molten rock from it's core   The most recent eruptions devastated the agricultural heart of the island between 1730 and 1736.  Clearly never subjugated by the earth's power, the island's people have used the results of these cataclysmic events resourcefully to keep themselves safe, fed, refreshed and artistically enriched. 

Entrance to La Cueva de los Verdes, Monte Corona in the background
Lighting the way through the grottoes 
We visited the Cuevos de Los Verdes, which are impressive grottoes connected by lava tunnels deep below the earth's surface.  The multi-lingual Lanzarotian guide explained that the tunnels were formed between three and five thousand years ago when Monte Corona erupted and lava streamed the 6km to the sea.  The surface cooled, but lava still flowed beneath the earth's crust.  Gas bubbles exploded, forming huge cathedral like caves.  We walked the 2km now open to the public.  This is fairly easy to walk, although there are steep steps in parts.  The tunnels and caves are lit to show the grottoes and underground lake to advantage. 

The guide explained that the tunnel stretches all the way to Monte Corona, and within the remaining 4kms there is a laboratory where vulcanologists monitor seismic activity around the Canary Islands. 

He told us that when the Lanzarote was a frequent 'stop over' for pirates and slave traders, the inhabitants used to hide in the caves until the coast was clear.  It is easy to imagine people being able to live quite comfortably.  The caves are dry and temperate.  You feel a flow of fresh air, and there is fresh water filtered by the rocks above. 

Is this auditorium the deepest in the world?
Most amazingly there is a huge auditorium, where concerts are frequently performed.  There were no productions during our stay, but the acoustics must be wonderful in this huge cavern.

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