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