One to Grow On

June 9, 2010

All the way to the end of the earth

Filed under: children, food, Food Allergies, Spain — midway2go @ 6:59 pm

Here we are at Fisterra, or Land’s End in Galicia.  As Rory pointed out over dinner, there sure are a lot of these!

We left Sevilla the day after Nora’s birthday, which was the start of the festival of Corpus Christi.  In Sevilla they carry these massive platforms with saints and flowers and riches on them.  The procession inlcudes priests and girls in their first communion dresses and lots of regular people being very casual with four foot long candles. 

We drove to Toledo, slowly roasting in the car all the way, to find a campground that looked way better on paper than in real life.  It occupied a bluff opposite the river Tajo, and the old town of Toledo was just visible, pink, in the light of the setting sun.  However, the beautiful pool hadn’t opened for the season, the shade at our site was spotty and the ground was gravelly, but, worst of all, a field nearby hosted a “Corpus Christi” festival all week, starting around 8:30pm and lasting until after 5am.  There was rock-n- roll; there was rave; there was screaming from the crowd.  There was very little sleep.  We stayed long enough to meet a man who made swords in Toledo (note: he was down to just 8 fingers) and to eat some marzapan, and split for the cooler corner of Galicia.

I have wanted to come to Galicia since my first anthropology class with Dr. Kelley.  It seems like such a magical place, green cliffs meeting the sea, big rivers carving their way into the Atlantic, a whole region with its own language (Gallego) and culture.  I have to say, though, that sitting in Toledo, in our un-air-conditioned car, the idea of driving seven hours FARTHER away from the rest of Europe seemed like a lot of work.  It’s very remoteness, sitting on top of Portugal in the far northwest corner of Iberia, is the charm of Galicia.  Brandon pointed out that if I didn’t go with four more months in Europe ahead of me when would I ever go?  So, here we are.

We camped in Nigran in the Riaxas Baixas area for five nights, and it was by far the best camping we’ve done in Spain.  The folks there were super friendly, and the beach was beautiful.  I knew we were the only foreigners splashing around on the beach that day; no one else would go near the “freezing” water.  We had great day exploring the nearby town of Baiona, once the most important Atlantic harbor in Spain.  It was into Baiona that the Pinta, the first of Columbus’s ships to return, first brought the news of their exciting discovery of a shortcut to Asia.  An almost exact replica of the Pinta is there in the harbor today,and I am going to tell you that I would think twice, and again, and again, before I would cross the Atlantic in that boat.  It was tiny.  Tall, but little.  And the Nina, one of Columbus’s other ships, was a couple of meters shorter still.  Wow.  AND, nine of twenty-six sailors on board the Pinta were under fifteen years of age.  So, it was a little boat largerly sailed by children.  Mercy. Well,  we had a fun hour climbing all over it.    I learned that Columbus and his crew, in addition to stuff like tobacco, potatos and corn and loads of other new foods that I knew about, also brought back hammocks.   On the outbound journey, and theretofore, all sailors just plunked down on deck when it was their turn to sleep.   I also learned tons of new Spanish words, mostly seafaring terms that I most likely will forget by next week, but, still, it was fun. 

Once the rain rolled in camping in the Snug Bug became a bit too snug, and a bit damp.  We woke up one morning to find ten snails sliming their way under the rain cover on the net part of our tent.  We watched and learned  how they move, how they sniff, how they retract when you tap on the net, how they poop.  Nora even found out what was under the shell when she accidentally stepped on one (there’s a big green organ under there, and  more wet brown stuff). 

We hid out from the rain in the car, driving to Ponte de Lima in Portugal for a few hours.  We weren’t there long, but I can say that I definately can’t fake speaking Portugese.  It really is not Spanish.  I can also say that the all-black look is very big again this year for the over-75 crowd.  We played around with some Roman solidier statues by the Roman bridge over the river (still in use), bought some hand-embrodiered napkins and learned to play water flutes.  Rory and Nora are enchanted.  Rory can make his sound like some attacking weapon out of Star Wars, but Nora is pretty faithful to the birdsong.   I got lost on the way back (surpirse, surprise), and we coasted over the bridge into Spain on fumes.  Gas in Portugal was a full 30 Euro cents per liter more than in Spain, which works out to be about $2 MORE per gallon.  Yowsers. 

We packed up, in the rain, and left Nigran this morning.  The tent and its parts were so wet I had to pack them separately in plastic bags.  I am not looking forward to setting up camp next time, but the forecasted nine days of rain was a great excuse for a night in a hotel.  We rushed to get to Santiago de Compostela in time for the pilgram’s mass at noon, but I got lost (surprise, surprise) and we only made it in time to see hundreds of people lined up to take communion while a nun sang.   In all the cathedrals and churches we’ve visited, this one felt like a working factory.  It was doing its real business, not just a show, and it was packed.  It would have been a lot more moving if Nora wasn’t jerking on my hand, wanting to leave.  This is travel with children.

Now we’re here at Fisterra.  Our hotel is great, and the rain that ran us off from the campsite has vanished.  Rory and Nora swam in the freezing cold pool, and a bee got trapped in Nora’s towel and stung her on the arm.  Her first bee sting!  She was really brave, and even posed for a photo with her attacker, who died for his sins.  For dinner we shared a massive fish baked whole with potatoes and tomatoes.  The kids were picking out bones and tapping the huge teeth (what in the world did the beast eat?)  They weren’t bothered at all to be dissecting a carcass at the dinner table.  When in Galicia…

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2 Comments »

  1. Oh how I love Chrislyn’s photos more and more each new entry. Thank you Rory and Nora for the smiles. Love, Grandma Barbara

    Comment by Barbara — June 9, 2010 @ 7:11 pm

  2. Great pictures, Chrislyn. We even got to see that these beautiful children had a Mom with them…..thanks. I am thankful that you are dry. The sun will appear again. I too, love those sweet smiles just as Grandma Barbara does. Blessings on you all. Love you, Nana

    Comment by Joan King--Nana — June 10, 2010 @ 10:30 pm


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