I‘ve settled back into my second country after the trek (in our motor caravan) across Europe. It is nice here, though the weather’s a bit too hot so I’ve taken to a siesta. I start work on the caseta reasonably early, go home for lunch at one, by which time it is pretty much unbearable (especially becuase the flies love it), bit of a nap and a read then back down at three – by which time part of my little building site is in shade.
On Sunday I went on a walk organised, I think, by the local government. I’m not much of a group walker, but thought it would be interesting. A friend picked me up and we arrived at Nonaspe, a village some way to the north at nine-thirty. Things seemed pretty quiet at the starting point (the main square of the village) and that was not suprising since we were told that everyone else had started out two hours earlier!
We became known as “the ultimos” – the last ones - and seemed to get special attention from the many helpers dotted along the way: we were often mentioned on the radio links (as the ultimos). The two ladies at the starting location actually applauded as we returned. Anyway, for us two it was not a group walk at all, though we did meet some of the returning heroes from the long route – they looked so professional, and hot. Nevertheless the walk was great; after a stumbling start we ascended to a ridge which gave a lovely view of the curving Mataranya River framed by a vast, striated cliff beyond which, I think was the Ebro, the river that ours joins and is then swept down to the Mediterranean.
The walk cost fifteen euros, and that included a meal – of sorts - canteen paella swilled down with dubious white and red wine diluted, for taste, with soda water. It was held in the vast and modern sports hall which even the smallest villages hereabouts seem to have. There were a few hundred of us there and we took up only a fraction of its extent. It was fun though. Once it was discovered that I came from La Fresneda, then someone was dragged out of the crowd and introduced to me. She was born in Nonaspe, but now lived in our village. Such camaraderie between fellow villagers.
Our favourite village in the area of the Mataranya, beside our own of course, is Cretas. We disliked it at first, seeing only its uninteresting main street and the unsightly modern development to the east. Then we discovered its wonderful plaza, its bars, its wine festival, and its late-in-the-year fiesta. Last night we went to the opening night of the latter, and followed the jota musicians and singers around the delightful antique streets. At regular intervals we stopped at tables laden with savoury or sweet tid-bits and, since this was supposed to be a tour of the bodegas (the wineries), there was also sweet, sour, or red wine available in little plastic cups – all free. I cannot imagine a better way to spend a warm October night – or maybe I can. Anyway, it was delightful. I was the only one left of our small party at the end – around two thirty in the morning – and they did save the best to last. More music, snacks and wine, but this time in the vast innards of an olive oil press, dwarfed by the olive grinder and using the presses to stand our drinks on. I was introduced to the mayor of Cretas, I believe that this glorious night’s expense was on his tab.