Sunday, April 11, 2010

Last Thoughts On Galicia (Until We Get Home)

This is probably my last chance to blog about Galicia until we get home, as tomorrow we leave our village. We'll stay overnight in Santiago, as our plane leaves early in the morning Tuesday.

The cherry trees are blooming now. Forsythias, too, in brilliant yellow. White daisies are sprinkled across the meadows. The cuckoo has arrived. Spring has sprung here and the weather is gorgeous. Meanwhile, our friend Jacki from the Ourense area came up for two days to catch up on news and go to the Medieval Fair. Having grown up in the English countryside, she could identify many of the plants for me. What I thought were canterbury bells are sweet nettle. And the trees filled with billowing yellow (still blooming) are indeed mimosa. They are a form of acacia.

In the walkway next to the river in Monforte, the wysteria are putting out tiny bud clusters that by fall will hang in strands of pink and blue and white. And the swans are back -- two lovely white swans floating lazily among the geese and mallards where the town creek empties into the river. The river borders the park, which borders the free public parking lot next to the Colegio. The Colegio (visualize an accent mark over the e) is both a monastery and a school for ages 4-16. I would have thought it meant college, but here college is called la universidad.

This has been a lovely last week, full of visits with friends and fairs and excursions. The Medieval Fair was a treat. Performers were dressed in medieval costume and put on mini plays and skits at the various plazas leading up to the Parador. Streets were line with stalls that displayed artisans' crafts, local cheeses, honeys, licores, and meats. (That last item wasted on us, but they did look impressive.) A man juggled with swords. A procession of musicians went up and down streets. And many locals dressed in costume, too. We stopped at one point and went into the Centro, and the family at the table next to us were all dressed up. Two little boys had silvery material helmets, swords, and charcoal mustaches and beards, but when they smiled, both of them were missing their two front teeth. The family, of course, were not having wine, but we did, and it was served in clay bowls as of yore, by a waitress in costume.

Later in the week Rajan and I drove to the small pueblacita called Doade, which has two wineries, a cantina, and a resturant by the river. That was our "splurge" lunch this trip, and afterwards we went down to the bodega (wine cellar) and the proprietor told us all about his wines. Earlier that morning, we'd finally taken the tour of the wine museum in town, learning all about the Ribeira Sacra region (Sacred River Valley). These vines were first brought over in 2nd century by the Romans who first came to mine gold. These vineyards are grown on steep hillsides, terraced with drywalls and still are hand-tended. Once in Doade, we had an enhanced appreciation of the terraced hillsides we were viewing. We took pictures, but it's too hard to try to download them here, so when we get back, I'll probably post quite a few.

Meanwhile, yesterday we went to a place called Rectoral Castillo. It's now a privately-owned restaurant and hotel-- restored from what originally was the home of a noble who, childless, bequeathed it to the Church. In turn it became the home of a bishop. After the priest died, it fell into neglect. The current family bought it about 22 years ago and lovingly restored in the character of the original building. It's like a very unique Parador, except that it's privately-owned instead of part of the government-owned Parador system. It's just lovely. The grounds go on and on with patios and gardens and fountains and pools There's a round, white building that is a dovecote and a separate chapel (nobles had them in those days).

Today is "stay home" day. We are cooking meriendas (snacks) for our wonderful neighbors and doing the necessary cleaning and tidying before closing up the house until our fall visit. I know we'll both be daydreaming about it until our next trip. But for now, hasta la vista, Trasulfe, and pretty soon, hello plane!

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