This week I will take you on a journey to the end of the world, amongst the wildest and most rugged headlands of the Costa da Morte, in the land of shipwrecks and witches. Needless to say, I have developed an obsession for lighthouses; each having their own unique character. There may be one or two featured in my exhibition in September. Here is my favourite one at Corrubedo, in operation since 1854. However, its presence still failed to prevent numerous shipwrecks and the loss of over 600 lives.
Last weekend we explored the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death), which has a fascinating history aside from its shipwrecks. Beginning in Muxia, at the Shrine of Virxe da Barca (The virgins boat) and A Pedra dos Cadrís (kidney rock) where it is believed to have healing powers for rheumatism and kidney related ailments. There are many rocks, fountains and streams through Galicia which are believed to have miraculous powers or assist with fertility. The council have had to put a stop to people testing the authenticity of such beliefs……they could set up fertility tents and make a fortune!
After a mandatory seafood lunch, Cape Fisterre (end of the world) was our next destination. My visit here exactly one year ago after completing my Camino Santiago, was a cold and gusty day; a war at sea crashing the most Western point of the Iberian Peninsula. It must be very rare to experience the Atlantic Ocean on such a perfectly sunny day without even a ripple in the water. I was finding it difficult to believe it was the same place. Traditionally, this is where pilgrims come to reflect after completing their pilgrimage and previously would participate in the cleansing burning of their belongings……usually old clothes and boots (preferably, their walking poles).
It was a tough walk back into town, having to continuously look at this magnificent scenery. You could easily walk for days. There is a Camino dos Faros (The Lighthouse Way), linking Malpica in the North to Fisterre hugging 200km of pristine coastline. I am very tempted to come back another year in Summer for this walk……..John is groaning, but deep down he knows he will love it.
In addition to the breathtaking dramatic coastline of the Costa da Morte, it also has high ecological value in its National Parks and a Protected Bird life Reserve on the Sisargus Islands, which we hope to visit in the coming weeks on the Northern Coast of Galicia.
We followed the coastal roads all the way home, with the deep blue sea on our right and the sculptural rocky mountains hovering over our left. The large port of Corcubion was one of the first charming towns we entered, but were surprised to find on the Southern side a very ugly coal fired power station boldly dominating the beautiful harbour. We later discovered it had been a coal station established as a refuelling point for the many steamships travelling off Cape Fisterre, necessary due to the regular storms the ships would endure.
In the next bay, we were welcomed with this special scene….
From here, we passed through the prettiest little villages then one deserted sandy beach after the other. Because Europe is so heavily populated compared with Australia, we just didn’t expect to find anything like this…..
Through the estuaries from Corcubion down to Muros are rated as some of the most dangerous of all the Costa da Morte. On this day, you could travel them on a stand up paddle board. I would say travelling through Galicia is very much like looking in a gem shop……full of surprises and you cannot say which one you like the best. We love it all!
While seeing the familiar blue-green of the Eucalyptus trees scattered through the hills of Galicia was initially warming to an Australian, reading of the disastrous effects from Eucalyptus crops in Spain and Portugal soon changed my feelings. The Eucalptus tree was first introduced here in the 19th century by a Galician monk who had been a missionary in Australia. Unfortunately, there are 2 to 3 million acres of them growing in Iberia for the production of mainly paper pulp. Farmers and environmental groups have protested at the large scale planting of Eucalyptus because it is drying up water sources, causing soil erosion, destroying wild life (local fauna cannot feed on it), and driving the small farmers from their land. These small farmers still use mainly man power instead of machinery, thus providing much employment.
It is another example of man interfering with a perfectly created world. Each area has its own unique flora and fauna in correct proportions, which belong together and are interdependent.
JOHN’S COOKING CORNER
During various cafe stops, we have tasted some delicious empanadas. They are usually filled with mince meat or tuna between pastry; Spain’s version of a pie. When we saw empanada pastry for sale in the supermarket, John decided to create his own style of empanada…………..onion, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, pimientos, baby squid and cockles. Yum!!
Well, either our Espanol has improved a little, or we are just getting better at sign language. Each little meeting with locals expands from using the occasional noun and verb to almost completing one sentence. When someone walks backwards from us, we know there is a possibility we have offended them using the wrong word……lo siento (sorry)!
While preparing our applications for our visas to Spain last year, we met a young English student (Natalia) from Madrid visiting Noosa for a few months, who came to our aid in translating the application forms. We stayed in communication and recently met with Natalia and her family in Vila Garcia for a lovely lunch. They had spent the weekend there for a wedding and it was fantastico and very special to meet again. Thank you Natalia.
The fishermen with their brightly coloured boats, mussel farms and lighthouses have been a great inspiration to my painting. We sadly left the gorgeous village of Porto do Son yesterday to travel to the North Coast of Galicia. Who knows what we will see next!! I know we will miss the stunning sunsets over the Ria de Muros and Porto do Son now has one less witch.
NEXT EXHIBITION: Santiago de Compostela 4 to 22 September, 2018
Gallery of Hotel Araguaney