Living in Lava

Despite regular eruptions, a village in Cape Verde continues to rebuild beneath a volcano, integrating the lava inside their homes.

Fogo, Cape Verde – When the volcano on Fogo, one of the 10 islands that comprise the West African nation of Cape Verde, last erupted in 2014, the lava buried homes and flooded roads. It also swallowed schools and tore through precious fields of grapes and figs.

Instead of moving, the residents of Cha das Caldeiras, a village that sits inside a crater and at the foot of the active volcano, counted down the days until they could return and rebuild – just as they always do.

Though the volcano has erupted six times over the past 200 years, the crater is their home, they say. They do not know any other way of life, nor do they want to.

Cha, as the village is known locally, is ripe for farming a variety of crops, which residents export to other islands. Locals also make good money from catering to the thousands of tourists who visit each year to ascend the 2,900-metre (9,514 feet) peak – so good that it is worth the time and money it costs to rebuild every couple of decades.

“I was born here. My land is here. My village is here,” said Ramiro Montrond, who has run a wine tasting bar in Cha for more than 40 years. “My whole life is here.”

Published in Al Jazeera English:

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