The beautiful hamlet was devastated and left in a sad and sorry state. But in the midst of the scorched terraces were the most incredible looking palm trees. Their emerald fronds had somehow escaped the flames but their trunks were burnt ebony. It might sound odd, but they were unnervingly exquisite; as though they had belonged to another planet.
I’d forgotten that something as destructive as a forest fire could occasionally leave surprises in its wake until last week when we went to Erjos to check out the damage to a walking route for Inntravel.
Tragically, the area around the Erjos Pools took the brunt of the fire once again and is heartbreaking to view. Who knows if the pools will recover a second time? The landscape around Erjos itself is shocking. We saw how close the flames were to the village as it happened. But to see the scorched earth leading right up almost to the doorsteps of some houses rammed home how nightmarish an experience it must have been.
And yet amidst the scenes of nature’s wrath (aided and abetted by man’s stupidity, whatever the actual cause) were visions that stopped us in our tracks because of their anarchic yet surprisingly fascinating beauty.
Parts of the forest looked autumnal; there were trees with colours you simply don’t see on Tenerife. Their copper leaves might have been as a result of the fire, but it added another dimension to the views and the forest near Erjos still exudes a pleasant smoky aroma; not unlike a smoke-house.
There is also a contrast of colours, with blackened trees standing out sharply against a canvas of burnt sienna and forest green.
In other parts, petrified trees with naked branches lend the terrain a quality that has somewhat of a grim fairy tale aspect about it.
In the valley below the village, the flora has been left unnaturally fiery in appearance. This vista simply stunned me – being both sad and sensational at the same time.
The greatest contrasts came when the scorched leaves were backed by slopes of ashen grey which looked as though their colours had been totally desaturated.
But the scene which held the biggest impact and surprised the most was this one. Only a few weeks after being ravaged, these terraces were testament to nature’s resilience. Despite Tenerife suffering from a drought stretching back months, fresh growth more than a foot high stood defiant against the carnage.
In the heart of darkness there lies hope.