Manolo Villalba is one of the last artisans "lanzeros" in Canary Islands
"I think that what we have"
some in the genes“
"Canaries are shrewd and vivid, they run and jump in the middle of inaccessible rocks and dangerous precipices, with the lightness of goats, "exceeding at all it credible..." That has written of the jump of the shepherd in the year 1455 Alvise da Cada Mosto in the "book gives first navigatione per l´Oceano". Until today Canaries jump with Lance as before the shepherds by gullies, and one of them is Manolo Villalba. This is one of the very few craftsmen of the archipelago who know still the art of the artisan manufacture of Spears. The visit to his workshop in El Paso, Manolo, us has something of the poles and of the jumped in Canary...
Manolo Villalba is well known in La Palma - primarily by leader of the Group Rock´n´Roll Tihuya Cats. Only few people know that also dedicated much of his time to the artisanal production of lances for of the Canarian shepherd jump. The, craftsman's 47 years, makes the Spears to the way traditional with the same tools and materials as their ancestors. Manolo us says that today is one of the last "craftsmen Lancers" in Canary Islands:
Learned do Spears's fashion craft makes, More or less, each 25 years, older craftsmen, But today many of them have disappeared and others have many years and now does not work. By my Carpenter training I learned fast operation of the production of lances, because I know working wood using traditional methods. And by my training of blacksmith can manufacture also the tips of the Spears, the Spike.
Lanza, garrote, Astia, Tin, great Pampa-Finch or asta are the different names of the Spears in the islands of Canary. But the basic construction is always the same. According to Manolo the "ingredients" are very important:
The wood is usually pine, It may be the Canary Island pine, Honduran pine, American, and some types of pine European serve also. Very important is that the grain of the wood is as straight and narrow as possible. Spears to jump must be very special wood - stable and flexible, because it plays one her life jumping.
However would have been many accidents in the history of the jump of the Pastor?, Since the Guanche shepherds from the Canary Islands to initiate this practice to save and save the goats in the ravines and mountains? Only few have fallen, says Manolo:
If do a calculation of all the people during all the history that have used the launches and which have had an accident leaves one percent, no more. Before there was more, logical, by that formerly was its work and were all those days, then there was more risk. But now happens much because the Canarios have practiced normally from very small, Me too. Normally almost all Islanders know to use more or less a spear, because since always in the Islands the people has had a launches small for walking, to go to find the grass, to go to take care of the goats, to fetch almonds, always with a shorter or longer spear. But more specifically the cabreros, because it is people that more going to the mountain. It is our culture and I think that we have a little also in genetics, because the majority of the Palm tree population is of Aboriginal origin (laughs). It's really funny: The people of Canary learn the jump of the Pastor before the people of the Peninsula or Europe.
Today you can "study" the Salto del Pastor e.g. in classes offered by the Federation of the jump of the Pastor Canary. Manolo says that the basics can be learned in about a week, but to be really a jumper experienced will need years:
If your practices much, know as have that put the body when jump and the pressure that have to do with the hands, so does not hurt. Normally a launches have to be a metro more long that the person, It is normal to start to jump with a spear of three meters, for an adult, that goes for almost all. Of course when more high do it launches more high you can jump. I do the Spears size and volume of the person. Man, I've seen jumping 7 meters with a launching of 3,60 m...
Despite cliffs so huge the jumping not want a competition. I.e. that it Federation of the jump of the Pastor Canary, you only want to maintain the tradition of the jump in its essence. Manolo underlines that the objective not is of racing:
The people that are in this world of the jump of Pastor not want that this will convert in a sport as football or athletics. Keep a little in the essence of our ancestors and is a sport of tradition, that the people it practice only because you like make it and not by competing with other people.
By that the jumping of the archipelago is found occasionally. Is interesting, because the jumped Canary it has developed very different on each island, the cause is that before there were many possibilities of communication. Manolo has a little:
Each island has its peculiarity as the form of the iron tip, thickness, the length or shape of jump. During the meetings a route is done from the cliff to the village where the meeting will be. Then usually do a lunch and a round table where jumping youth and adults share their experiences.
During these talks Professional also is speaks of the prices of the Spears. Manolo is an understood:
A small Spear of 1,80 to 2 meters, a bordona, can exit from 60 EUR, More or less, the more big of 3 meters come out more or less from 110 to 170 EUR. How much more great that more expensive, mostly because is always difficult to find the wood adequate. Spears of pine Canary are exceptionally more expensive because is protected. But sometimes there are Sockets, and it can follow a permission of the environment to search a tree that serve. But in general my prices try that not are very high especially because it most of my customers are pastors and people that uses it launches for its work and not can spend is much money. In the other islands is paid by a launches until 350 Euro...
Because Manolo is one of the last craftsmen "lanzeros" in the Canary Islands, the has many orders, but he could not accept all because you want to reserve much of their time to the music and the restoration of antique furniture - It has specialized for the wood's tea. To people that want to know to this Carpenter, Herrero and musician we recommend to attend one of the concerts of Tihuya Cats which held in 2016 its tenth anniversary. The publishing of the Palm 24-Journal gives them thanks to the man "multidisciplinary" of he step to have time for an interview!
More information of the jump of the Pastor:
Von La Palma 24