LA PALMA (Reuters) – Juergen Doelz and his girlfriend Jacqueline Rehm were selling their small sailboat on the Spanish island of La Palma when Volcano Cambre Vieja erupted, forcing them to flee their home and board a boat.
Doelz, 66, and Rehm, 49, who are from Germany, were trying to sell a boat to save money after losing their jobs at a car rental company due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On 19 September, when the volcano began spewing fiery lava just 4 km from their home in Todok, the couple had returned from a trip with a potential buyer. But the sale failed because the vessel was “not sporty enough,” Doelz told Reuters of the boat, which was docked in the port of Tzacourt.
A few hours later, he was kicked out of the rented house, which had a vineyard and terrace facing the sea, and had to leave most of his belongings behind.
“Luckily, we still had the boat… and we’ve been living on this boat ever since. It’s small, but that’s okay,” said Doyles, who has retired.
The lava streams in La Palma ravaged more than 600 hectares of land and destroyed some 1,600 structures. About 6,000 people have been evacuated from their homes on the island of about 83,000 inhabitants.
“We came here (La Palma) two and a half years ago and half a year later we found our dream home. It’s hard to lose after two years,” Doelz said.
Although the lava has not yet reached their home, they believe it is only a matter of time before the flow has destroyed the homes of their Swiss neighbors and the eruption shows no signs of easing.
“We’ll be on the boat until we know what to do next. Should we stay here or maybe move to another island like Tenerife? No idea, I don’t know. It’s written in the stars,” Rehm explained.
(Additional reporting by Graham Keely, Emma Pinedo and Jesus Aguado)