Guilda and La Gomera

Historian Juan Bethencourt Alfonso, in his work Historia del Pueblo Guanche (A history of the Guanche Town), has retrieved a myth from oral tradition that links Adeje with the island of La Gomera.

The myth concerns Guilda, a young noblewoman of Archaha, in the kingdom of Adeje. On the eve of her marriage, her fiancé died, and a short time later Guilda discovered that she was with child. Desperate, because according to the local law she would be cast, alive, into the sea, she entrusted herself to a fisherman servant, and they agreed that her only chance of salvation was to steal away to the island of La Gomera on a small raft. On a night of favourable weather she embarked, in great secrecy, from Troya beach. She promised the servant that she would light a bonfire when she arrived safely – they believed that the island of La Gomera to be uninhabited since the catastrophe, given that they never saw any fires lit over there. And for the first time the following night a fire could be seen lit on the island, confirming that she had arrived safely. The following year she returned to Tenerife on another raft, with her husband, to see her family. There ensued great celebrations and she was forgiven as she had been saved from a watery grave.

What is so curious about this Tenerife story is that it can be seen in parallel with a myth from La Gomera, more specifically from Playa de La Guancha near San Sebastián. The story goes that in remote times a young girl arrived on her own by boat, from Tenerife. So astonished were the people that she was brought before the local king, and she told her tale, explaining the misfortune that caused her to flee Tenerife, and that she had expected to find La Gomera uninhabited. She said this was so as no-one had ever seen fires lit on the island. But they didn’t, it transpired, know how. So she taught them how to light fire by rubbing two sticks together and so grateful were the indigenous people and the king that he took her for his wife and the child in her womb as his own. And after some time they returned to visit Tenerife…