Ninja Turtle

Tabara Travel Blog

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Sometimes it is too beautiful not to take a photo!

Joy of joys, no scenic detours for a few days. It has been smooth sailing during the day and stormy seas at night with a crazy assortment of inhabitants at the Albergues.

Recently I have been sharing dormitories with many people who snore but sleep blissfully themselves every night. I have super duper silicon earplugs but they are no match for the level of noise that goes on in an Albergue.

I will try to keep this next bit ´nice´ but for the purpose of description I need to use a few ´more than salubrious´words!

Up until the region of Castilla and Leon I was travelling with young people (under 50!) and there were often only 2-4 people a night in the refugios. Since leaving Salamanca there have been more people and especially more Bici (bicycle) pilgrims (not usually appreciated by the Andando´s - walkers as they are not REAL pilgrims).

Typical adobe house seen around Tabara
The Bici´s arrive at all times of the evening and always travel in ´packs´. They clatter around with all sorts of bike paraphenalia and generally do not understand how much the Andando´s need peace and quiet, especially at night. Most of the Bici´s are retired people and usually over 60.

So now I have set the scene, let me tell you what it is like at night. The Andando´s are usually in bed first and then the Bici´s come in later; talking, flashing high beam head lights everywhere, rustling plastic bags, stripping down to underwear (not usually a good look) and then the bathroom routine starts.

The assortment of ´men noises´never ceases to amaze me. They continue throughout the night and start up all over again in the morning.

Leaving Tabara at sunrise
Snoring, farting, belching, throat clearing - and all at high volume. And then there are the ones dealing with prostate issues and they are up every 20 minutes during the night - feel a bit sorry for these ones though. Sleeping (or trying to) is my least favourite part of being a pilgrim but in saying that, it is integral to the overall colourful experience.

Let´s just say that I prefer less people per night and the younger ones are quieter and more respectful. Thanks to my lovely young friends Ramon, German, Raul, Marketa, and expecially Juan [even though he was not a REAL pilgrim :) ] . He will understand but if he doesn´t there will be consequences!

So the last place I left you was Granja de Moreruela and I now had to walk 27km to Tábera - faced with a rocky cliff to climb in the morning light.

First view of Rio Esla
Far from being daunted, I was excited to leave and underway very early before the sun was up. It was one of the coldest mornings so far and I was breathing steam for some time. I had decided to wear my ´sleeves´(like cyclists wear - no shirt attached but fluffy lined and very warm) instead of my fleece jacket. It was not my best move and it soon started to drizzle so I whipped out my fluoro pink poncho and covered myself and pack with it. I must look like a huge strawberry chuppa chup in it!

It did not rain for long so off with the poncho again. I had soon walked the 7km to Puente Quintos, a stunning bridge over the Río Esla. What a sight as I rounded the curve in the deserted road. The sun had just risen covering everything in a blanket of golden light.

early morning fog - the beauty of dawn
The river was frosty cold and shivered with a fluffy fog about 1 metre deep over the surface, leaving patches of glassy water to reflect the cliff faces on either side. I have not seen anything so gorgeous or been in a place so silent, for many years. I just stood there and let the scene pick me up and smother me in it´s beauty. For several minutes I could not continue as my body just wanted to experience more and more of this perfect private moment. A fish rose from the depths to catch some morning bugs and broke the silence. I smiled and woke from my special place.

Once I had walked across the bridge, I turned sharply along the bank of the river and very close to some reeds, disturbing a beautiful cigúeña (as you now all know is a stork!).

Crossing the Roman bridge - solitary pilgrim
Off she flew, as straight as an arrow - no surprises there!

The path now became something a mule would have difficulty with! It was narrow and very rocky. Normally I would have no problem but with a 14kg pack on my back it was necessary to be very careful with my balance! It was a long way down to the water once I started to climb to the top. Half an hour later I was on top of the world, looking back on the beautiful bridge and also the remains of the original roman bridge, now mostly submerged in the river.

At the top, the path took me away from the river through some pretty encina trees and thick bush. Here, I was stopped in my tracks again by yet another beautiful sight. A deer crossed the path about 20m in front of me. She was young and glossy, still reflecting that golden morning sun.

Standing on the bridge - in the moment
I crept up hoping to catch a photo but she sensed me and elegantly flew into the bushes. She needn´t have feared me but there are many hunters in this region looking for wild boar and deer. I often hear them in the early morning and hope that my red hat will be enough of a deterrent!!

A few days ago I also saw a fox hunting for breakfast and managed a shot of it running through the wheat fields. It was so thrilling to be a part of this natural life cycle. How we take food for granted in our big cities now. Do we ever ponder where that cheese comes from, now in several layers of plastic wrap, or the bacon we have at the local café on Saturdays?

Further along and the path changed again to tussock, sheep country. I was happily strolling along when from my right I heard a dog bark and then saw it bounding through the grass, then another and another and another and yet another. Now five blurs of fur and teeth were hurtling at me like missiles aimed at a target. Two smaller dogs were in hot pursuit.

[Now I must explain that sheep dogs in Spain are nothing like the Blue Heelers in Australia. They are HUGE, sometimes coming up to chest height with their heads].

These 5 monsters were just like this. The shepherd was some way off and hurrying as fast as he could, more of a trot than warp speed as he was quite old. He was waving his arms and, I think, trying to call the dogs back but they had inertia and would not be stopped. The first thing that happens to your body is the initial squirt of adrenalin thus making you into a Superhero! With my super powers I shouted fiercely at them and then I performed some very intricate Ninja Turtle moves, perfectly choreographed from one direction to the next as they circled me.

Now, you have to picture me with shorts on, a red hat and my big blue pack strapped to my back - I really looked like a huge turtle to these poor dogs, trying to protect their precious sheep!

It all ended well and the old shepherd chatted to me for a while about Australia (are there many sheep? do we make cheese from the milk? what is the economy like? price of petrol?) and after I had given his excited grandson some Aussie flag stickers we were all on our way again.

In the next village, Tábara, I made a point to buy some Queso de Oveja (sheep´s cheese) with a newfound respect for just how special it is. Those dogs protect their sheep from even turtles!

Enjoy your food today and think about where it came from. I´m off for a queso and chorizo bocadillo!

Besos Grace

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Sometimes it is too beautiful not …
Sometimes it is too beautiful not…
Typical adobe house seen around Ta…
Typical adobe house seen around T…
Leaving Tabara at sunrise
Leaving Tabara at sunrise
First view of Rio Esla
First view of Rio Esla
early morning fog - the beauty of …
early morning fog - the beauty of…
Crossing the Roman bridge - solita…
Crossing the Roman bridge - solit…
Standing on the bridge - in the mo…
Standing on the bridge - in the m…
photo by: Gracethepilgrim