Tag Archives: El Bodon

Here, there and everywhere

I have been on the move, so I haven’t had much time to write. I left Madrid on Friday the 23rd with my friend Consuelo (who I met while I was studying in Madrid). We drove about 3 hours to La Encina, where she was born, a tiny town of only 200 people near Salamanca and about 15 minutes from the border of Portugal.

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El Bodon

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El Bodon 40.487851, -6.575002
In El Bodon I was queen for a day, since it seems I was the first American who had ever graced this tiny town. The highlight of my visit was bingo outside of the town’s 2 bars, where once we’d finish one drink at one bar we’d go “uptown” about 10 paces to the town’s only other bar for another drink.

From La Encina, Consuelo and I toured the absolutely gorgeous medieval city of Ciudad Rodrigo.

In Ciudad Rodrigo: the outside of the…wait for it…Post office, of course!

I kept imagining that Senor Rodrigo was my distant relative and that maybe, just maybe, my ancestors founded the town.

From there, I bussed it to Porto, Portugal. I love port, so I figured I should go to the city that makes the stuff. Porto itself was stunning. Everywhere you turn are churches and buildings covered in TILE. And, those who know me, know that tiles are my weakness.

Yeah, when I say covered in tile, that is no exaggeration for effect.

I spent my first evening keeping flies from getting into my mouth, because I was awestruck by the architecture in Porto. Day 2, I basically drank myself through the day, touring 4 bodegas/caves where the wine that’s made from grapes grown in the Douro Valley (or the Rio Duero once it crosses into Spain) are aged in the caves along the river in Porto. Three tastings per bodegas at 3 euros each…I had to plan carefully to make sure I could make it up the Seattle-sized hills in the city, since, after drinking, gravity tends to pull the head sideways and down as opposed to the direction it’s supposed to go.

Aiming to stay upright after drinking Porto starting at 10am (oops! There’s a timechange from Spain to Portugal!)

Porto…it’s pretty and pretty steep

From there, another long two bus rides to visit my cousins in Viveiro, Galicia, a small city that’s a few towns from where my grandfather was born. The people here speak a dialect of Spanish that’s a combination of Portuguese and Spanish. It’s sing-songy and beautiful to listen to. My Spanish has (thank god) improved enough that I was also able to understand some of the gallego being spoken, in addition to Castellano (what they call Spanish in Spain).

I have an affinity for Galicia and I feel sometimes like the past lives through me. Seattle or Galicia?
Green year-round? Check.
Mountains? Check (though not as tall).
Surrounded by water? Check (the fishing boats come and go from here, where I am at the confluence between the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.
Familiar flowers? Check. Buddleia, hydrangea, crocosmia, brugmansia, dahlias, rosemary, fennel, the list goes on and on!

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Viveiro

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Viveiro 43.634575, -7.589737
Viveiro itself is a pretty Spanish port town. There streets are cobblestone but it feels new and old at the same time. There are still some of the original entryways through the city walls that date from the 17th century.

Juan Carlos V doorway into Viveiro. No plague shall enter thru here!

It’s nice to be with family, that’s for sure. I wasn’t in town 10 minutes when my cousin Pedro Raul’s sarcasm and irony came out in joking around with me about my trip. My 2nd cousins look and sound exactly like my grandfather, father and brother, it’s obvious we’re family. The food here is heavenly too. Empanadas, pimientos al padron, chorizo, jamon serrano. It’s like I haven’t died, but I’m still living in heaven. Why, oh why can’t I eat this well back home?

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