Although we have loved the coastal areas of Galicia, we were excited about heading to the countryside for some serenity and to explore the magnificent steep slopes of the Ribeira Sacra region. While driving from the nearby city of Ourense to Ferreira de Panton, we were speechless as we wound our way around the mountains along viaducts which seem impossible according to the laws of physics. The Spanish seem to be able to construct whatever is required to travel from one place to another. There’s a village or a river in the way……….”we’ll just go over it!” There’s a mountain in the way……..”we’ll just put a tunnel through it!” Amazing engineering; nothing stops the Spanish.
With detailed directions from the Tanquian Organic Farm, we squeezed through tiny villages, slowly and unsurely down narrow country lanes barely wide enough for our car, desperately hoping we would not come across another vehicle. After then passing through an old oak forest, we were warmly welcomed by Manu and the Tanquian team and led to our lovely 17th century tower apartment which would be our home for the next month. Having such a lusciously green scene from our balcony (image above), I just had to paint it. With the exhibition just over a month away now, I needed to get busy with my brushes to complete another 4 paintings while on the farm.
We quickly began our exploration of the 5 acre property in Panton, firstly to find out what organic produce was available because we have not been able to find much anywhere else in Galicia. We tried bunches of vibrant red currants, nisperos, blueberries, beans, zucchini and lettuce. Such a luxury to have beautiful fresh food and even better……….freshly baked German style bread.
Nisperos, also known as loquats, originate from China and have the texture and taste of an apricot with some extra tartness. We loved them on our salads. In one of the veggie patches we found one of the best looking scarecrows, who has lost a bit of muscle mass over the years, carefully guarding the produce.
There was much inspiration for my painting on the farm. Look at this handsome Cock!
Manu and Paul had family visiting from Denmark and we were treated with an invitation to their family bbq feast around the fire pit. Beautiful salads and BBQ meats with a large quantity of red wine of the Panton area were shared, later followed by the beating of drums and Spanish singing. We had such a fun night and felt very privileged to be there.
One of my favourite parts of our stay on Tanquian Farm, were the donkeys. There are 6 indigenous species of donkeys in Spain, all nearly extinct, being as emblematic of the country as a bull or flamenco dancer. Mostly only seen now in rural Galicia and Andalucia, they have been used for carrying goods, people and pulling carts since before the recording of history. They are highly intelligent and friendly, however their stubbornness is now known to be a highly developed sense of self preservation. If they are not confident about their next step, they won’t take it. They are more suited to steep terrain and love to walk along the edge of cliffs and look down as it gives them more confidence. (I will definitely never ride a donkey)
I have never had any experience with donkeys (apart from reading ‘Winnie the Poo’ books), or heard them calling……..they sound like a cow having a party then possibly having an asthma attack. We have managed to keep up our yoga early every morning and a few times when we have started the chanting, the donkeys decided to join in, leaving us in fits of laughter. Of course, John smartly replied, “Good morning darling!”
FERVENZA de AUGACAIDA
We have had many beautiful walks in the immediate area surrounding Tanquian farm of Panton, but the one to Fervenza de Augacaida was definitely the most memorable. This day, we packed a light snack and water for a 2 to 3 hour walk to one of the highest but least known waterfalls in Galicia.
Very soon into a walk through a stunning forest, the raincoats came out of the backpack and we descended the very steep mountain on an easy road in the occasional shower of rain. After two hours of descent and only seeing two cars, we finally reached the beginning of the track down to the waterfall. We then knew we were in for a total of 5 hours of walking, nobody told us we could drive to the start of the walk……ha ha.
The actual trail to the waterfall was gorgeous, passing an endless network of old rock walls and ruins. Thoroughly enjoying ourselves, we carefully climbed down the final 200m of track which was very slippery in the now extremely heavy rain – can’t turn back now! By the time we arrived at the bottom, we were so wet and hungry. Here is a short video clip of us enjoying the Galician Summer in Panton!
(click the link below to download)
As soon as we started our climb up again, the crashing sound of thunder echoed around the gorge making us lift our pace. Hoping we would be fairly safe in the thick forest, we still came close to running up the track which soon became the main drainage route for the torrential rain. We were now trudging through a fast flowing river that was zigzagging its way down the slope. This proved too much for our raincoats and waterproof shoes. As if that wasn’t enough, suddenly a fountain of mud spurted over the rocks across the path……….only one way to go. All we could do was laugh at ourselves, which ended abruptly with more crashes of thunder roaring through the forest. We made record time for that hill climb……squelch, squelch, squelch. By the time we made it home, we ate everything in sight.