Rediscovering the Canaries, Chapter III


Rediscovering the Canaries by Octavio Barrera and Dani Millan, Chapter III

Canarias Province is divided between two capitals: Santa Cruz de Tenerife, which represents the western islands, and Las Palmas, the eastern islands. The contrast among them is truly incredible. We already knew the eastern front, but new things always show up underneath the rocks. The islands of La Gomera and El Hierro were the ones we were yet to visit, and the last stops in our adventure.

Traveling, getting to know people and places, learning. Without responsibilities that went beyond taking a good picture or framing correctly a great scene and not wasting any more money than that we had in our pockets. Everything else was just amazing. Although everything, we must say, was extremely difficult.


I have great memories from La Gomera. We hit the nail on the head with a contact there who helped us understand the rhythm of that small island. Everything seemed to be stopped, nobody was in a rush. Everything looked marvellous and so it was.In my notebook, his name was written as ‘Pablo La Gomera:’ that is how it stayed forever. We never knew his last name. He was a key person during our stay. We told him we had already recorded many images of volcanic landscapes and desert scenes, and the first thing out of his mouth was: “These are the western islands. You are going to get tired of all the green here”. He told us he had a friend who worked at the national park and asked her if she could lead us there.

Amparo, his friend, was surprised when she saw us arrive the next morning. She was told it was for a film, and I guess she was expecting to see a huge troupe. As she opens the door, here is two young men with a camera each and no backpack: “Is it just the two of you?” The poor woman had misunderstood Pablo, or he had exaggerated so that she would accept the challenge. We will never know. On the way she told us that she was used to guiding large TV reporting crews immersed in the deepest parts of the park and surrounded by laurel forest and other native species. She was happy to be able to wander with us along the paths that she always had to bypass, the larger groups with lots of equipment get tired.


We arrived at a part of the park that was, according to her, rather untouched, where from a distance you could see a small, somewhat unique construction. I asked her about it and she told us that throughout the island there tended to be this type of rural construction in the middle of the forest or on top of the cliffs. I discovered that given the fact that it is a rather steep island, in the time of the Guanches, the first indigenous people of the Canary Islands, people inhabited caves or this type of constructions. Since moving around the island was quite limited, people communicated using a language of whistling.


  • Archipiecture

These constructions sometimes leave a lot to be desired. In the end, they just meet a need and are a part of our landscape. This is what really catches my attention. From that point on we started to call it archipiecture and every time we saw a somewhat strange building, we would try to stop to look at it more carefully. It actually turned into some kind of a game. We would be traveling in a caravan and once we would see one of these buildings we would go, “Dani, stop! Archipiecture!”

Houses made directly with volcanic rock are pure art: finding the rocks one by one, they would go on to become a small living space. We encountered a few of these in El Hierro. It was interesting to see them up close. Piled up rocks, porous and rough at the same time, camouflaged with its surroundings by their black colour with red hues. Suddenly there was a perfectly square window. And out of the irregularly shaped walls would emerge a perfect hole. Some had sloped roofs to drain the rare rain, whereas others were flat to save the rainwater with hoses that led to some collection drums so that it could be used to water plants.

Each individual behind these works has had to engineer them, think about their own concept of a house, needs and abilities, the surroundings and the climate, the heat and the seasons: all this to be able to build, with minimal resources, their own palace.

Words & Photography. Octavio Barrera
Artworks. Octavio Barrera


“A journey to our homeland”
A short film by Dani Millán for Eldorado
Extract from the documentary ‘Maresía’.

The short film, the documentary and this story are presented in the framework of ‘Proyecto Islas Canarias‘,
co-founded by the two travelers Dani and Octavio. Follow their new-born Instagram @proyectoislascanarias!

Octavio Barrera

Octavio Barrera

Product designer
Octavio is a Canary-born product designer. In order to pursue his design career, he moved to Barcelona, a city which matched his main interests, skateboarding, and a creative culture. He is currently mixing skating days with product design and creative direction in his studio-atelier. In January 2014 he co-founded the independent collective Proyecto Islas Canarias as a starting point for the development of explorative projects focused on the Canary culture.
Dani Millan

Dani Millan

Dani is a filmmaker from the Canary Islands and he is currently based in Barcelona. Along with his studies in Cinematography and his passion for skateboarding, he started working and producing films for many brands from this area of endeavour. Together with Octavio he founded the Proyecto Islas Canarias and he just developed his first documentary film, 'Maresía'.
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