Our flight was late last Friday evening. Our friends met us at the airport in Santiago, drove us to our area, and then whisked us to one of their favorite restaurants (Torre Vilarino, between Escairon and Eire) for a 10:00 p.m. dinner that turned into dancing until 2:00 a.m. Actually, 2:00 a.m. was when we had to give up, since it had been nearly 36 hours since we left our house in Sacramento. Normally, they would have danced on.
The next day, we walked around the aldea greeting all our neighbors. It is always like a homecoming to see them again. Eva brought us eggs, potatoes, and homemade wine that very afternoon. Later, after bringing in his sheep, Miguel brought us eggs and wine. These good people live with the cycles of nature and the seasons of their crops, and they share their bounty in a heartbeat. To reciprocate, I bake cakes and cook potato croquettes and samosas, but it seems a small reciprocation.
In the early evening, we walked down to the carretera, or highway, enjoying the peacefulness of the scenery -- layer on layer of distant hills speckled with tile roofs of villages; closer daisy-sprinkled pastures; and the sound of the cuckoo from a nearby woods.
Sunday we went into Monforte, a small city or big town, about twenty minutes away from our village, and had lunch at the Parador (pictured above). The Parador system is government sponsored and utilizes old castles and monasteries, turning them into tourist hotels with restaurants while preserving the old charm of the original structures. In the case of Monforte's Parador, it was formerly a castle of a Count de Lemos, but it has also had a monastery in its history, and its large, ornate chapel is still regularly in use.
The rest of the week has drifted by with trips to neighboring villages to shop, trying to catch up on e-mail and book reviews at our favorite WiFi cafe in Escairon, while my husband works online (he's an engineering consultant).
This is a beautiful time of year to come to Galicia. When we arrived a week ago, it was still chilly for the first two days, and buds were still tightly furled on the fruit trees. Suddenly they have popped out with pink (apple) and white (pear) blossoms, and the wisteria in the park in Monforte has started blooming, along with a remarkable pink-flowering tree that we can't identify. On arrival, the heather and gorse were already in full bloom and will continue so through the summer. The last few days the yellow broom is starting to blossom. Later in the summer the sprays of white Spanish broom will be everywhere. For now, cabbage and turnip greens are bright white and yellow splotches edging fields.
Monforte has had a family of storks nesting on the collegio for some time, but a large, new nest is perched atop the steeple of a church in Toiriz (on the way from our village to Escairon). Almost every day a new marvel reveals itself. Or maybe it's just that in the pace of life here, one has time to notice such simple beauty. Once outside the town, a glance in any direction shows worn, stone building, tile roofs, huge hydrangea bushes or pots of geraniums, vineyards and orchards at every turn. A woman herds cows across the road. A burro stands near the roadside. The vast, blue skies are filled with billowing white clouds. All seems timeless, carrying on the cycle of life as it has gone on for centuries.