Muchas gracias, Raquel, para ayudarme con mis preguntas. Hasta luego!
I am jumping ahead, and delaying posting about my birthday weekend with friends in Valladolid. I am alsogoing to wait to write about my hike through an amazing gorge. I want to write about today. I took off in the car and headed up narrow winding constantly ascending roads to a couple of small agricultural villages high up in the mountains, Vielve and Sotres. A couple of views, the first across the typically tiled rooftops, the second from a vantage point above the second village, the highest in this chain of mountains.
I am hiking on access roads used by the shepherds – cattle and sheep, the primary industry here for essentially thousands of years. There is tourism, some small hotels (serious hikers) and shops selling the famous local cheese and sausages. I kept going and saw this marvellous site.
Thirty some in the flock, 22 or so are black. Imagine having to live down or uphold the reputation for being the white sheep in your family! The black ones, of course, absolutely life savers for the flock when the snow hits, and it definitely hits here. I made it up to some abandoned buildings, used in the old days by shepherds who would have moved their flocks up here from the valleys below in the summer. While I was here, the villagers were busy moving their herds of cattle around from one pasture to the next, dealing with the stubborn ones, and at one point taking the whole herd through the centre of the village to pastures on the other side. These are working villages. The roads and village streets show it.
I decided to aim for a crest not too far above me where I would be able to see into the valley behind.
It is amazingly beautiful, this place, this country, these people. But I have saved the best for the last. Up here, at times in the clouds, I found un campo de futbol, yes a soccer field.
Small goal posts at either end, very rugged playing surface…look carefully on the right side of the second photo.
I tried to include both goals here, but in the sun with our modern cameras I could not see the screen at the back, so trust me on this. I returned to the village for lunch and asked my server. Yes, it was a futbol field and she played up there with her mates in her mid teens; there was no other ‘flat’ surface in the village. I also asked her my favourite question here. Were you born in this village? Your parents? Your grandparents? Grandparents of your grandparents? Yes, yes, yes, for many centuries and she clearly hopes to die here. Asturians have been living and surviving here for thousands of years. The area is famous for its queso de cabrales, a blue goat cheese aged in limestone caves. I had a goodly chunk in the other village halfway up, a second breakfast. Well, I had to, you know, let Spain sink in!
The road up and down for that matter is not for the faint of heart. Very difficult to get photos; let’s just say that we (the car and I) kept climbing, very close to the guardrail, when there was one. Numerous gaps, too much warning tape (some visible just at the turn to the right), one work group reinstalling, I didn’t want to ask my server about this. There is barely room for the road, let alone shoulders and places to stop.
On a cheerier note, a flowering shrub on my hike above the village.
An enjoyable day with that wonderful bit a serendipity, discovering that campo de futbol up in the clouds. Camp Nou, Jose Calderon, Bernebeu, you simply can’t compete.