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The name given to La Palma by its original inhabitants was Benahoare (My Land). That primitive people formed a society of collectors and shepherds organising his territory in several regions, with a governor (the Mencey) for each one. The name of one of these regions was Aceró (The Invulnerable Emplacement), and Tanasú was its Mencey when the Spaniards came to the doors of Aceró in September, 1492 after having already conquered the rest of the island. The emplacement they were trying to win was, actually, the Caldera de Taburiente.
Captain Alonso Fernández de Lugo could not get Aceró in the battle, so that he decided to change the strategy. By means of a native who agreed to collaborate, he offered a negotiation and asked Tanasú to meet in a place outside Aceró. In order to bring his people to the end of such a nightmare, Tanasú accepted the risk and went to the meeting, but Fernandez de Lugo imprisoned him and set him in a ship with destination to Castile. Tanasú denied eating during the travel as a protest to the betrayal committed by the captain, and he had already died when the ship reached the coast of Spain. Might be the hunger strike was invented by the last Mencey of Aceró, five hundred years ago, in response to the "christian" message coming from whom the History qualified later as the Catholic Kings.
The most pertinent translation of the word caldera for the subject of this article would be pot. Actually, the Caldera de Taburiente looks like a huge and deep three-quarters of a pot provided of a single and narrow exit toward the West. Its orography is so wild that a few islanders could resist inside the attack of a group of well-trained warriors, equiped with the best weapons of his time, holding just sticks and stones and tons of courage in defending their women and children. The Invulnerable Emplacement was shown actually vulnerable only by means of a dirty treason, just one more, nevertheless, in the long tradition of treacheries of our empire-builders.
Its difficult to make a rational description of what the Caldera is or looks like, but a division in three parts may help understanding. In the bottom, water collected from rainfalls forms a stream of very variable flow that leaves toward the ocean by a creek named Barranco de Las Angustias (Anguish Creek). Its one of the very few places displaying water on surface permanently in the Canary Islands, and it collects also all the detritus pulled-off by erosion from the inner walls of the pot along thousands of years. We are speaking, therefore, about a long, narrow and stony alley where many blocks of volcanic stone are pretty taller than a man. Temperature keeps there always warm and the flora corresponds to that of a warm place, looking very similar to what is found in the desert lowlands from the South of La Palma (see next article).
Above that bottom, walls are carpeted by a forest of pines until some thousand and five hundred meters of altitude, which means pretty more than one thousand above it. The species responsible for that forest is the Canary Islands Pine (Pinus canariensis), which is endemic of the archipelago and is strongly resistant to fire. That would be the second part of the Caldera in our simplification of reality.
The forest of pines ends where the walls of the pot become so sloppy that ground cannot keep stable the roots of the trees. These naked walls extend until the edge of the old crater, which reaches its maximal altitude at the Roque de los Muchachos (the Rock of Boys, 2396m a.s.l.). This is a kingdom of ancient lava, of nude stone displaying all the variety of blacks, reds and yellows resulting from the chemical composition of each layer and from the different ways of oxidation of the metals it contains. Weather approaches at that tops the high mountain climate, and the flora consists of the local, rare species adapted to it. In such a privileged balcony open to the ocean and to the sky, the traveler finds in addition, to his very surprise and enjoyment, the amazing structures of a collection of telescopes constituting one of the best astronomic observatories in the World.
This would be, in a few and simple words, the Caldera de Taburiente, a unique natural environment protected by the Spanish government under the declaration of National Park in October, 1954.
article published 10/28/2012