The history of the municipality of Tías began with the volcanic eruptions of the 18th Century. These eruptions not only buried 13 of Lanzarote’s towns, but also a number of fields that were used to farm the island’s typical cereals. On an island already arid by nature, the population grew gradually weaker as a result of long periods of drought and several pirate attacks, which led to almost apocalyptic consequences. Many tried to flee the island, an audacious act that was punished with death by the Spanish Crown as it fought not to lose Lanzarote as a strategic military base.
Many of the inhabitants of the towns that were ruined escaped to nearby villages with few occupants. By this time, the area was already known as Tías and was considered the poorest region in Lanzarote until the arrival of tourism. As well as breeding pigs and goats, the fields were used to grow legumes, onions, tomatoes and grapes. It was not long before the farmers realised that the tragic volcanic eruptions had in fact blessed the soil: the porous volcanic ash captures and retains humidity, which slowly feeds the roots of the plants and, during the day, it creates a protective layer over the earth, preventing evaporation. In the second half of the 18th century, the soap obtained from the barrilla plant, or prickly saltwort, was exported even as far as England from the small dock of Puerto del Carmen. The next few centuries brought few changes to Lanzarote. But at the end of the 60’s, yet another period of drought forced the women and children to take care of the land while the men spent months out at sea fishing. The gradual inflow of tourism brought on by the opening of the hotels Los Fariones and San Antonio, as the only accommodation available, gave the islanders hope for a brighter future..
The inhabitants of the Canary Islands have kept personal traditions and customs that last through the ages and that has given places to a particular culture. In every village of the municipality of Tías you can find traces of its past connected with the land and the sea. Connected with the endless days of hard work and the fight of the man to survive in an arid and complex surrounding with scare natural resources. These difficulties has moulded their personality that is marked by a great religious conviction and an unshakeable faith that is evident in their churches, religious festivities, in its folklore and its particular myths and legends.
It is a game of accuracy throw that is included in the facility of the game of the bocce ball and its rules are similar to boules. It is played on a bounded rectangle of sand, that traditionally used to be just next to the bars and canteens. You will see lot of them around the island: by the sea and in the squares of the villages. If you want to see how they play to it, go to the Varadero, the port of Puerto del Carmen. There, locals meet almost every day to show their skill in hard-fought rounds that last till night.
Traditional Wrestling from The Canary Islands
The Canarian wrestling is the vernacular sport of the Canary Islands and it is practiced in the eight islands since the 15th century. The rules are easy: two rivals face each other in a circular sand surface with the only goal to knock down the other. They always use more their skill and their ingenuity than the brute strength. It highlights the beauty of their techniques, called “mañas” and the nobility of their spirit. The best fighters are called “pollos”.
Whereas before consisted of designing tools to the domestic tasks, now has acquired a traditional craftwork value. We are talking about the making of tablecloths, decorative embroidery textiles and lace; or the large basquet made of palm trees leaves to kept fresh food, or also the making of vessels to the kitchen. Tías has today some string instrument artisans, luthiers that design and make timples, mandolin, oboes and guitars with a highly appreciated meticulous and mathematical technique. Tías is also a place where you find weavers, that make sashes, pashminas, rucksacks to go to the remora (pilgrimage) and traditional costumes made in loom. Nowadays, they use cotton, sheep wool, linen and synthetic fabrics. In the past, they used camel wood. There is also numerous workers dedicated to the creative and contemporary crafts.
Although the gastronomy of Lanzarote is seems to be simple, it has create dishes with mixing the local products that the scarce rain or the sea provided. The basic ingredients of the local gastronomy are the potatoes, the sweet potatoes, meals (pork, goat, rabbit and chicken), legumes (lentils, peas, beans, chickpeas and chicharro), seasonal vegetables and fish. Everything to create different dishes like vegetable soup, sancocho (a dish of fish, potatos, sweet potato and gofio), puchero (stew) and soups (of potatos with noodles, of corn, of fish, etc.) But the mojo sauce is with no doubt the essential in dishes like sancocho and it it the best complement to other dishes.
Although the word folklore include the group of traditions, legends, beliefs, costumes and popular proverbs in this case we will pay attention to the music. Some experts say that the musical folklore of the island is the result of the mix of different musics: the native percussionist music, the sounds of the peninsular Spanish that came to the island during the conquest and the colonization, and later the Caribbean chords brought by the Canadian emigrants. The rich and varied folklore of the Canary Islands is the combination of the first mix of culture, that we should add the influences created by the Genoese, Jewish, Flemish and British merchants, and also, the human flow between the Canary Islands and America. During the 19th and the 20th century is possible to feel the influence of different places like Central Europe and Latin America. From this time we have the waltzes, the poleas, the mazurcas or the berlinas. All these song has the musical accompaniment of string instruments (guitar, timple, laud or violins, among other ones) and today are part of the traditional music. From Latin America came the Havanas, the tenth (décimas), the punto cubano, boleros, etc. Over time those styles mixed with the Canarian music and then became part of our culture.