Travelling from Spain to Portugal

For more photos on this chapter, including some fantastically coloured autumnal pictures of olive groves and vineyards, click here.

For the first time on our journey, we have to cover some distance in the space of a few days to get to Benfeita in Portugal, where we have been invited to teach a weekend of Tango. Travelling feels different when you have to get from A to B, rather than just stopping off when you like for as long as you like.

Strangely enough, as soon as we have a particular destination in mind, we seem to lose our way. Road signs seem to contradict each other, and we get stuck several times every day, trying to find our way out of yet another large town.

On the evening of the first day, we arrive in Ourense in the pouring rain. We find a car park near the thermal pools by the river, and after some searching we find a lovely spot; the Termas de Outariz, or more specifically the Pozos do Muiños. Unfortunately we are not allowed to take photographs, so you will just have to imagine what it’s like, sitting in a very hot thermal spring outside in the dark and rain, with the very fast flowing, swollen river just the other side of the pool. You can practically reach over the side and touch it! We are alone in the pools, except for one young couple. You can feel the hot water rising from below, in between the big flagstones that make the pool. When you get out, it’s nice and warm underfoot too. It was lovely!

We stay the night in that car park and bathe once more in the morning. The whole valley is clouded in mist from the hot springs.

The next night, we stop in the middle of nowhere, after a long day of driving through fine drizzle. This is our first night in Portugal. The following morning, we have a spectacle right outside our door: one man loads a tractor onto the back of a trailer, all on his own! Considering that in Spain, 7 men had trouble getting a turtle off a beach, this is a pretty impressive contrast!

After breakfast, we go for a little walk. The landscape is vastly different from anything we have seen in Spain. It reminds me of the higher parts of Dartmoor actually.

P1060007

On the way up to the trig point, we come across a group of hunters and their dogs. 20 minutes later, we see a dog on his own scrambling through the bracken. Thinking it’s one of the hunter’s dogs, we take it with us and go looking for the hunters. The dog seems to be blind on one eye and quite deaf too, and strangely bumbling into things – very friendly to us though as it happily snuggles into Frank’s warm coat. It turns out the dog doesn’t belong to the hunters – it’s a stray! One man tells us that there are many stray dogs in the area, some much bigger than this one. We climb up into the van and drive away, heavy-hearted to leave the dog behind, but knowing that we cannot deal with every stray we meet…

This feels like a lesson we need to learn.

The next evening, having made good progress through Portugal despite getting lost in various towns and tiny little roads through the middle of beautiful nowhere, we stop for the night at the Monastery of San Joaõ de Tarouca.

We wake to find out that, once again, we have randomly stopped somewhere in an extraordinary location: cobblestone roads and little streams everywhere, dropping down a steep valley into a very fast-flowing river. There is a beautiful church, which is still in use but the monastery itself is in ruins, the monks having been expelled centuries ago. At the time, the land was annexed by the government, which subsequently sold it to local people who wanted to use it, and then recently bought it back again.

20141121_120607

The ancient monastery gardens are now being re-cultivated on organic principles, as part of a project run by an association. They have only been on the land for 2 years and it’s impressive what they have done in such a short time. Daniela, a young, dynamic woman, gives us a tour of the large herb garden and shows us the terraces yet to be reclaimed from bracken and brambles.

20141121_114751

It is an extraordinarily beautiful place and the enthusiasm is practically oozing out of her. They want to research which vines the monks originally grew along the long south-facing wall at the upper end of the garden. They want to bring back the importance of the elderberry in the valley, which due to the amount of sun it receives has an unusually high content of sugar in the berries, which they are already exporting to Germany. They have an organic shop, which sells their produce as well as other local artifacts. They plan to export their medicinal herbs, develop a range of  natural cosmetics and forge links with organisations such as WOOFing etc. to share the beauty of the place with as many people as possible. They already have international links with people who would like to run projects on the site, such as wine making. They also want to restore the two chapels in the garden.

With all these ideas, it’s surprising to learn that there are only 6 people working there at the moment, with just 3 of them actually working the land. Daniela heaves a sigh as she looks across all the uncultivated areas – this will take us 5 more years, she says. It would be very impressive if they could realize even half of their plans in that time!

They are working together with (and getting financial support from) the local government, and the garden looks set to receive a lot of visitors in future.

It is fantastic to see such positive energy, to see this place, which had obviously been fast asleep under the brambles for many years, come to life again. I hope we can come back in a few years and see how the project has unfolded.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a place to get in touch with the earth, to do some good work with a group of enthusiastic people, to be part of an exciting project, why not go and spend some time in a monastery garden in this charming little village of San Joaõ de Tarouca?

Click here to get to the association’s  website. The monastery garden has organic certification. They also have a facebook page about the association, as well as a page about elderberry production, and a web page about their hotel.

For more photos on this chapter, including some fantastically coloured autumnal pictures of olive groves and vineyards, click here


Posted in Uncategorizedwith 4 comments.

A Lesson in Galician Philosophy

For more photos of this chapter, click here

 

praiadovilar.jpg

After so many days in a rainy city, a sunny day by the sea feels like such a gift!

We have arrived at Praia do Vilar, part of a 4km long beach south west of Santiago de Compostela. As we are about to go down to the beach, an emergency vehicle stops by and the man coming out of it tells us they’d received a call from someone about a dead turtle that had been washed up on the shore. Of course we follow him! Sure enough there it is – it is a leatherback turtle and it is HUGE!

20141117_110251

We loll on the beach, we soak up the sun, we collect pine cones and drift wood for our stove, we walk on the wooden board walks that lead across the dunes and through the pine forests… we don’t go swimming, as the beach is too dangerous for that; you can see that there are strong currents by the way the waves come in and the sand piles up in great irregular heaps. There are rocks out there that break the water too.

We get talking to Constantino whose job it is to pick up plastic from the beach and he takes us to the eco-centre nearby. We meet Xoán who seems to be in charge of the tourist centre, a very friendly man full of information about Galicia. We start asking him all sorts of questions, from the name of the turtle and how they will get it off the beach, to questions about Galician architecture. We find out that the strange house we saw in Toxosouto was a Pombar, a dovecote! Apparently, they used to eat the young doves.

Xoán laughs about our experiences with farmers and hunters who claim not to know whether we can park up near their house for the night. He says it’s very typical for a Galician to be non-committal. He once asked a group of workers if he could borrow an axe. The response he got was ¿a ver?, hands up in the air, shrugging their shoulders.

A Galician does not like to make decisions like this, he says. The Galician Horreo is a typical expression of trying to hedge one’s bets: on one end it is topped with a Christian cross, on the other end it still has the pagan pinacle, a symbol of fertility, just in case one or the other religion doesn’t work. Apparently the Galician humour is close to English humour – Black Adder has been dubbed and is very popular. The mind boggles!

There is a saying here that God is good but the devil is not bad.

 

In the afternoon, we drive to a nearby town to connect to the internet. This town seems to have a connection with the English, but something got lost in translation… Shops are called Me Two (clothes for men), Womens’ecrets (a beauty shop) and The Children Garden (a café). We meet a very helpful man at a cobblers/keycutters who manages to cut us a copy of the key for our water tank. As it is not exactly the right key, he comes halfway across town to personally try the key in the lock, and when it fits, he gives it to me as a present. When I suggest putting a link to his shop in our blog, he says he’s too shy to be mentioned by name, so here is a thank you to the anonymous key cutter from Ribeira :-)

 

Returning to the beach, we can see the stars for the first time in weeks!

The next morning the turtle gets dragged off the beach rather unceremoniously but involving lots of people and not much strategy :-(    It is looking rather worse for wear too, having been dinner for the seagulls for the past few days. A scientist comes to take a sample from the shoulder of the turtle (this is to ascertain its provenance), and then the turtle has one glorious flying moment before it is carted off to the marine lab in A Coruña.

20141118_092919

 

Before we leave the beach for Ourense, we meet up with Constantino the beach comber and his soon-to-be-wife Patricia for a cup of hot chocolate (you can get this really yummy hot chocolate in Spain, the kind that is more like hot chocolate pudding).  Constantino is dreaming of having a campervan, so he was keen for Patricia to see our Emma. We spent the morning sprucing her up, sweeping and ordering everything and hanging nice curtains over our disorderly shelves :-)

I had actually already noticed Patricia the day before, when she walked past us on her way to the beach, and I thought to myself there is a strong spirit, an interesting person.

Patricia was happy to meet us to chat, a chance to improve her English, and as she is pregnant and a teacher, we talk a lot about children and education. She feels quite passionate about her daughter’s future; she wants her to be raised outside of religion (there’s a tricky situation with both sides of the family waiting to erupt), she wants her to be rooted in Galician and Spanish culture and language but also to travel and experience many other cultures and learn other languages from native speakers. Speaking other languages will open her horizons. Patricia would prefer not to send her child to a regular school in Spain. She speaks very passionately, and all the while she is talking about her daughter’s future, I can’t help feeling that this is as much about her own life as her daughter’s. I hope that she can fulfill her dreams, not just for her child but also for herself.

It’s that time in life, when we get pregnant, that we consider everything in our lives and want everything to be so much better for our children than we had it ourselves. I think of the dreams and visions I had for my children and how many of them I/we managed to realise… and which dreams fell by the wayside, and why.

All this water around you really makes you introspective! The rain, the sea, and then hot springs in Ourense… but more of those in another posting!

 

 


Posted in Uncategorizedwith 1 comment.

Two riddles

1) What do you think this is?

20141115_134209

20141115_134027

 

2) On our way to the beach we stop off by Toxosouto, a monastery near St. Xuan, and in the woods nearby we find this building (click the link for the video clip below). What do you think it was for? It is about 4mtrs in diameter, 3 mtrs high, no roof but may once have had one. The walls are solid outside but inside, floor to (non-existent) ceiling, it has holes in the wall, or shall we say many stone shelves. There is only one small entrance (don’t be fooled by perspective, the entrance is about 1.40 high).

Video clip

Any ideas, answers, please feel free to comment. you can either comment below, or you can click on the little crosses by the side of each paragraph and leave your comments there.

 

happy guessing!

 


Posted in Uncategorizedwith 4 comments.

Yago

As the Autumn International Rugby games are nearing, Frank is getting progressively twitchy about having some way of listening to them, if not actually watching them…

He’s been hankering after a radio to make sure he doesn’t miss them entirely, but it’s not easy to find a radio that runs on 12 Volt and has short and long wave.

Although we’ve come across a few fans on our journey (Ruben the shopkeeper in Lalin, Nacho the policeman in Grado), Rugby isn’t exactly big in Spain. It’s not easy to find an Irish bar, and if you do, chances are they show the Irish game instead of the Welsh.

So…

On our way to the Tango club, we spotted a radio shop. Ruth didn’t think they would have what we were looking for but nevertheless called in the next day to find that the owner seemed to know a lot about radios and was determined to find the right thing for us. So yesterday we called in together and after looking at various ways of powering a radio from Emma’s cigarette lighter he asked us to follow us into his inner sanctum. There were two comfy chairs facing a large screen and the most extraordinary array of amps and speakers. They ranged from tinny little 6 inch speakers to what looked like a miniature organ bristling with pipes. Yago informed us that they were definitely not for sale. He ushered us to the comfy chairs and proceeded to give us a full demonstration, starting with Orff’s Carmina Burana. The sound was incredible, even compared to the best speakers currently on the market, which were standing alongside: it was as if we were sat in the middle of a full orchestra. It turns out that they had been designed and made by his father who had also created this very room as the first dedicated sound chamber in Spain. Yago’s whole family was involved in sound: there was a kind of tape recorder too, using very fine wire, which his uncle had invented. The whole experience was like being in a mini museum dedicated to sound.

20141114_120645

We felt privileged to have been invited in and were quite surprised when he told us that he regularly invited teenagers in to show them what they were missing by just listening to poor quality sound from their I-phones etc.

It was at this point that Ruth asked if he had any Tango music. When he put on his mother’s favourite track, Yira Yira, we gave him a quick turn on his carpet. When we finished, he held out his wrist to show us the goose bumps. He was truly moved and it was a lovely way of giving him something, in return for sharing his passion for sound.

All the more incredible was that he gave us his full attention for a good half hour, whilst shooing away his shop assistants and potential clients, in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be able to sell us anything.

When we finally left the shop he said he would do his best to come up with something after the weekend. We are looking forward to meeting him again to see if he’s found anything.

For photos for this chapter, click here and scroll down to the bottom of the album.

To read up about Yago and the history of his family of inventors, go to his website: http://www.portelas.es/historia/

(if you don’t read spanish, try googletranslate)


Posted in Uncategorizedwith no comments yet.

360 Asturias

Finally we have managed to upload the video clip we took of the Camino Real de la Mesa, so here it is!

Enjoy!

We miss the sun… We’ve had several weeks of rain now, with many thunderstorms…

Off to the sea today and then southwards tomorrow.


Posted in Uncategorizedwith no comments yet.

City of gifts and surprise encounters – Santiago de Compostela

For photos of this chapter, including a little 360 degree clip from the top of a hill near by an old windmill,  click here

Arriving late on a Sunday evening, we find a lovely empty car park right near the centre of the city by a tennis court. We stroll through the old part on our first night – lovely! The grand architecture is predominantly religious and you get lost in the narrow streets, which criss-cross the city centre; everywhere is pedestrianised and there is a sense of quiet and calm, with whole families out on their ‘paseos’.

Early the next morning, we are woken by a flurry of cars parking all around us – within 10 minutes, every available space is taken – people have parked like on a ferry! They all must know each other and leave work at the same time. There is no way we could get out of this car park if we tried! So we settle in instead and light a nice fire. I practice the bandoneon and Frank cooks up a lovely meal – when suddenly a fire engine pulls up with much noise and blue lights flashing. They stop on the outside of the car park (they wouldn’t have been able to get in anyway!), they don’t even bother to get out, just look at our van with its happily smoking chimney and they drive off. One minute later, a police car pulls up. They come and knock on our door. We are worried that they might fine us for a fake call-out of the fire brigade, but they just check that all is ok and go off again. Phew! We really need a notice on the outside of our van telling people it’s ok when it’s smoking…

We had met the bandoneonista Alejandro Szabo in a little village 20km outside of Santiago, where he and his band had a performance some days ago. I was impressed by his playing – technically perfect and very expressive – and I had arranged to have a lesson with him. Alejandro teaches to my liking: giving me a lot of advice for the tone quality of playing, rather than getting stuck in one piece. Just like in dancing, it is far more useful to work on the principles than learning a figure. While Alejandro is teaching me, his wife Emilce is having a massage treatment from Frank in our Emma. When she comes back, she gives us both a haircut in exchange :-) (Emilce having been a professional hair-dresser for 20 years!)

We don’t want to be hemmed in again in the car park, so the following morning we leave at 5am to find another location in town. We just randomly drive up the hill and park where we find a place and go back to sleep…. The next time we poke our head out the door, we find out that we have parked up outside a circus school!

images.jpg

This is perfect timing. Frank and I’ve been talking about stopping somewhere for a week or so to put in some serious Tango practice. Ask the universe and you shall be given!

 

The circus school is run by an association. There is a calm atmosphere of working and a lovely way of sharing the space – everyone getting on with their practice, classes happening in one part of the building, jugglers practicing in the other corner, someone on a ladder, others doing acrobalance… in some way, the atmosphere is a bit like during private lessons at the Tango Mango – very conducive to learning when everyone else is immersed in study.

 

We also meet the local Tango community who run a little club in the bottom part of town, we introduce ourselves with a free practica which leads to some people booking private lessons. I don’t know what the local teaching style is but it must be quite different from ours, as the people comment that they have never heard what I tell them – especially the women.

 

I seem to have been supercharged with energy in the last four days. I’m not sure what it is, maybe I have now fully recovered from the really hard work before leaving the UK, maybe it’s the fantastic food that Frank keeps creating from great local ingredients, maybe it’s all that fresh air, or the Kombucha that Rawley from Coed Hills gave us and that produces a lovely fresh and sparkling, possibly slightly alcoholic beverage (the Kombucha is growing – we have already left a piece with Mada and one with Rubén), maybe it’s the Aloe Vera juice we’re currently drinking every morning. In any case, I’m feeling very healthy, alive and awake.

 

Frank is missing the countryside this afternoon. It is true, the city has a very different feel to it, and it is easier for us to find what we need in a more rural setting: a stream to swim in, firewood, local food, a place to park by some trees etc.

Later, we take a little stroll out the back road on which we are parked. It turns out that we are actually right on the edge of the city and that there is piece of woodland with Chestnut and Eucalyptus trees 100 mtrs from our Emma! Today has been very windy, so we even find some blow-dried firewood for kindling! On the way back, we find some wild fennel too, and some mint. Perfect for our fish meal tonight!

Ask and you shall be given.

 

One afternoon we go on a hunt for a launderette. Someone told us it’s out at Monte do Gozo, which is the reception point for the pilgrims’ arrival in Santiago, just outside the city. We find a huge centre, with many bungalows for the pilgrims, with cafes and bars, a playground etc., but all is closed for the winter. While looking for the launderette we find a huge Fly Agaric, the size of one of Frank’s berets!

20141112_143718

And after a bit of driving around, we also find the launderette, which is open despite everything else around it being closed.

Frank spends the afternoon in the launderette checking his emails and watching the washing while I practice the bandoneon… it is so lovely to have dry and clean washing. Actually it does rain more here than in England: apparently Santiago de Compostela is the city with the second highest rainfall in Europe, after some city in Norway.

 

You can find both Alejandro Szabo and CircoNove on facebook if you want to get in touch with them.


Posted in Uncategorizedwith 3 comments.

Dreams

So many conversations with people who we meet circle around this topic. Somehow it’s a bit dangerous for people to think themselves into our position. There is a pull towards the freedom they perceive in a journey like this, but then their real world calls them back, with all its obligations, commitments and its comforts. It is always an opening into them telling us about their lives: the newly married couple where the wife is the main carer for her previous life partner who had had a heart attack over 20 years ago and needs the level of care of a 1-2 year old child. The car park attendant with a family with teenage children who would love to go travelling but at the same time is scared to take the step. The sixty year old doctor who is an avid mycologist and who is counting the days to his retirement so he can go traveling. The Dutch couple from Venezuela who cannot settle again in Holland but needs to go where they find a Latin culture, somewhere where they can make their dreams a reality. The melancholic Spanish woman who has been on her own for over 20 years and whose dream it is to own a mobile home like ours. The colourful lady whose partner cannot fully commit himself to the relationship, who would love to go on a year long trip with him. The teacher on the point of retiring who feels young in her heart but her health and her husband are keeping her from following her dream.

 

I have always thought of this journey as a rite of passage, a journey I would take when my children have grown up and left home. It was always meant to be an outer as well as an inner journey for me.

We find that we are not just travelling in our waking lives, but also when we sleep – our nights are filled with vivid dreams. We are travelling in two parallel universes: Every night, I have at least three if not more significant dreams.

I dream a lot of my children, but also of my parents, especially my mother, whom I haven’t dreamt of for years. In the first dreams she was terminally ill, and there was a sense that I should put my journey on hold to spend time with her. She’s been getting better with every dream though, and last night she wasn’t ill at all, just a bit tired of having to organize a big family gathering. My father has figured too, and again, it started with him being very ill and old, and he’s getting progressively younger with every dream.

We live stories in our waking lives, but also in our dreams. In each case, we are given an opportunity to grab life with both hands. That seems to be the one important thing – to live everything to the full.

It’s my father’s birthday tomorrow, so I’ll add a picture of him, three weeks short of his death two years ago. Was habe ich doch für ein glückliches Leben gehabt (I’ve had such a happy life!) he kept saying, right up to the end of his days. This is someone who went through the war, managed to study when it was even hard to just find  food in Germany, built a family home, lost a child,  went through his fair share of toil and trouble, lost his wife 6 years ago, had a stroke – and yet he was full of sunshine.

P1020772


Posted in Uncategorizedwith no comments yet.

Rain

For photos of this post, click here

I don’t think there’s more rain here than in England, but somehow you are closer to the elements when you are in a van and hear its drumming above your head. We also have a rogue leak somewhere that lets in water every now and then, depending on the strength of the rain and on the angle the van is standing. Just when you think it’s raining hard, it gets even harder, so loud you have to start shouting at each other in the van to make yourself heard. We’ve had a number of thunderstorms too.

Having felt restless and tried to get away from the rain on the first couple of days, we are now settling in to face it. The focus changes: more bandoneòn practice (yipeeh!), more wood fires inside, making shelves, reading and writing. Frank is making amazing meals with all the wonderful local produce that we pick up. We manage to find local organic producers in the most unlikely places. Yesterday, we were parked up for the night in Lalín, a small town on the way to Valgas where we are heading to go to a Tango concert. In the morning, Frank found an indoor market with an organic supplier.

P1050954  P1050958

Rubén, a lovely young man who runs the shop on behalf of a group of producers in the region turns out to be a rugby fan and player too. Here is an article in spanish about the shop, with further photos too.

We find a very well appointed sports centre in Lalín, all paid for by the council, with swimming pool, sauna, gym, numerous classes, indoor tennis. After a number of days of rain and not being near lakes, mountain streams or the sea, we are very happy to get thoroughly clean again!

We catch the sun when it does pop out. We had some nice moments in Lugo, a town with a perfectly intact roman wall surrounding the old centre. There is a big rampart on the wall, so you can walk all around the city  centre. If you look closely at the photo below, you can see the wall continuing behind us for a long way before it turns a corner and disappears from sight.

We meet a couple from Barcelona who get very inspired by the idea of a year long trip – well the woman does. The man says, now look what you have done, you’ve created a big problem for me! We stand and chat for a while, philosophizing about the world we are in and about the passing of time, until we separate after exchanging contacts and a promise to get in touch when we come to Barcelona. They’ll show us the Gothic Barrio in exchange for a Tango lesson.

P1050949

Lugo seems to be partially abandoned – so many houses are empty and falling down. We wonder if this is due to the crisis or due to their system of inheritance in which houses end up belonging to so many people that no-one can sell them, so they just fall to ruin. The people who walk around in Lugo seem to be quite well-heeled and the shops that are open (many abandoned shops fronts!) are predominantly fancy clothes shops and cafes. Maybe it’s quite a touristic town in the summer.

Every evening, the caravan park gets a visit from a couple in their sixties, who almost militarily walk up and down the car park. She seems to have to complete a number of laps before she drags her recalcitrant husband home, who meanwhile has been standing in the shadows smoking, waiting for her to finish her nightly exercise. We join her on her laps and as we get talking to her, we find out that she is a nursery teacher who can’t walk in the normal places in town for fear of being stopped every ten paces by at least three generations of townsfolk she has taught. As she is diabetic and her profession doesn’t allow her much exercise, she uses this empty car park as her exercise ground. Her husband on the other hand can’t walk because he has arthritic feet. She takes delight in rattling off the foreign number plates of the motor homes visiting this car park. One more year until she retires… It is her dream to have a campervan and go off. Her husband lets out a disgruntled noise at this idea.

Galicia is covered in exquisite woodlands and it smells of mushrooms everywhere. We sometimes get tempted to try and identify mushrooms via the book but feel that it’s a bit too dangerous without an expert person to advise us.

The Asturian mountains have given way to a landscape of rolling hills. The people seem a little more reserved here than in Asturias (Kike had warned us already), and the language seems to be half way between Portuguese and Spanish. The last two nights when we asked if we could park up for one night by the side of a woodland, we received each time a non-committal I don’t know, with a very reserved look, and a comment that police might come and chase us off. Yesterday, the farmer added the comment that he’s not the president to make a decision like this. But his wife was more helpful and pointed out that up on the hill was a church that had an area for festivities, where for sure we could park up and not be troubled by anyone. However, the hospitality did not extend to giving instructions on how to get there… a general wave of the arm was all we got. We could see the church from one end of the valley, but we had to ask again and do some detective work, in order to find it. It was worth it though; we found a lovely place for the night.

 


Posted in Uncategorizedwith no comments yet.

hello Galicia!

Playa las Catedrales, near Ribadeo, just across the ‘border’ from Asturias….

This beach has incredible rock formations at low tide!
We spend a day by this beach in the rain and wind. Just in time for the low point of low tide, the sun comes out and the sky lights up in spectacular colours!

Check out more photos on flickr, it’s worth a click    here

 

 

 

catedrales.jpg


Posted in Uncategorizedwith 1 comment.

Good bye Asturias

We have a couple more appointments before we can leave Asturias.

First, we go and visit Kike at his house in Dolia. Not having his exact coordinates, we start to ask for him in a bar about 5 km before Grau (Grado). “Kike of Dolia? He lives just outside Grau, but it’s hard to find. Go to Grau and ask again.” So when we arrive in Grau, we stop by the side of the road to ask some women who stand chatting in a garden. But before I get to the women, the Guardia Civil has got to the van, because two of our wheels were over the white line! I go back to the van and ask them about Kike. They are very friendly, and after a few phone calls they have got Kike on the phone who instructs them to lead us to the cemetery, from where he will pick us up. So off we go with an escort, with flashing blue lights. The women in the garden have stopped their conversation and come out onto the road to watch the Happening.

It seems we are the excitement of the day, because within 10 minutes, we have all three different types of police cars passing by and stopping. But we are in the care of our two young and  friendly policemen who explain the situation to their colleauges.

They stay with us the 15 minutes until Kike and Ana Clara arrive, and we chat about this and that. It turns out one of them is a Rugby fan and would love to come to Cardiff to watch a game. So we exchange emails.

When Kike arrives, the conversation continues, and we experience first hand the importance of knowing someone who knows someone. I may be wrong, because the talking is so fast I only get parts of it, but it seems to me they are discussing who they might know who might know someone who knows the other, and they establish that Kike knows the grandfather of one of the policemen. So the world is in order again, and good byes are accompanied by hearty slaps on the back. We pile into Kike’s car and speed up the hill to enjoy an evening at his house, meeting his daughter, his 6 dogs and his wild boar which he keeps in an enclosure and he dares us to come and help feed them. We prefer to stay outside the cage and watch him instead – it’s a rather large male boar with his harem and children, and with very long tusks! Kike and Ana Clara are very hospitable, and we pass the evening chatting and sharing a meal.

 

The next day, we meet our friend Mada once more, who travels a few miles together with a fisherman  friend of hers to meet us on a beautiful beach, where we share a lovely afternoon and evening. We go for a bracing swim in the roiling sea, followed by a lovely expansive meal in our van, with the stove heating the van and roasting chestnuts, while the Firewok is grilling Monica and Txema’s vegetables outside.

That night, we have our first unfriendly encounter with the police who rudely awake us at around midnight and asks us what part of a no entry sign do we not understand to have come and parked right by the beach? Ok, we asked for it, ignoring the sign, but we thought it’s out of season and no-one’s here….

Anyway, we are chased off in a hurry and manage to forget that one part of our firewok was stored underneath the van… we find it the next morning in a rather mangled condition :-(

We tell ourselves it could have been worse – they could have fined us – but still, it leaves a sour taste, after so many really nice encounters.

P1050865

The following day, Kike collects us to go and meet Jesùs who owns a riding stable at Lamuña. We are in luck, we can go on a horse ride that morning! What a joy to experience the landscape from the back of a horse! We ride through pine forests, through Eucalyptus plantations (I know they are bad for the land, but they do smell very nice!), through chestnut woodlands, through meadows, and for a little while up a stream! The sun is shining and it’s pretty hot: 28º. Perfect for our last day in Asturias!

Little do we know that the weather is closing in on us (ever since we have crossed the border into Galicia, it’s been cold, wet and windy…)

 

The day closes with a shared meal with Kike and Ana Clara outside our van in the setting sun, where we return their hospitality and cook for them. Kike takes it upon himself to straighten out the mangled grill from the firewok and does a pretty good job, while muttering about lack of tools, and if we’d only rung him in the morning about it, he would have brought his blow torch and anvil and special hammer and tongs etc etc.

Just before leaving, he makes a very moving speech, almost in the style of our Georgian friends, on the strength of chance meetings and developing friendships, and mutual desires for a more ecological approach to the planet. He blesses our journey onwards and hopes to meet us again somewhere some time.

 

For more photos of this chapter, go to https://www.flickr.com/photos/126714897@N05/sets/72157648720240410/

To contact Jesùs, go to http://www.aventurasacaballo.com

He offers short rides as well as longer ones, along the various ‘Caminos’ of the region: Camino Real de la Mesa, Camino de Santiago etc.


Posted in Uncategorizedwith no comments yet.