The Adeje councillor for heritage, Desiderio Afonso Ruiz has uncovered, through interviews with some of the borough’s older residents, a relatively unknown story from the 1950s regarding a flash flood during the Feast of San Sebastián, celebrated on January 20th. As has always been the tradition, and continues today, hundreds of pilgrims walk with the statue from Adeje to La Caleta, through fields and barrancos.
“At that time the day of San Sebastián dawned bright and sunny, with people, animals, and carts taking part in the pilgrimage, when suddenly, around about midday, the skies clouded over and it began to rain with a fierce intensity. The barranco became a river, and many of the pilgrims were caught unawares. One family were trapped on what had become an island in the middle of the barranco, and the level of the water had risen so quickly there was no way to save them. The Guardia Civil tried to throw them a rope to help pull them out but were unable to reach the family. The water was also rushing down the barranco with such force that people were shouting out to the saint himself to intercede to save the family. …According to the story, when the picture of the saint arrived at the edge of the river, the waters calmed, “miraculously” and with the aid of a human chain, formed by the men of the party, including Don Antonio the shepherd, the family were saved. Since that day they say that San Sebastián calms the waters”.
Councillor Desiderio has investigated the story, and says that as there is no written account of the events that took place, we need to rely on oral sources. This story has passed, he says, from generation to generation. He took time to speak to a number of the borough’s older residents who have told him that they saw the event first hand, and others who weren’t present but who heard about the event the day it happened.
He says we cannot be sure of the exact year of the flood, and that almost everyone he spoke to had a different date in their memory, from 1950 to 1933…”so”, he says “we believe it happened during the first half of the 1950s”.
Desiderio has thanked those who took the time to tell him the tale, and includes Ana María Afonso Quintero, Pilar Afonso Pláceres, Maria del Carmen Rodriguez Quintero, Maria Luisa Vargas, José Francisco García, Ofelia Díaz Rivero, Antonio Rodríguez Rodríguez, Manuel Jesús Ramos Hernández and Francisco Lima Trujillo.