Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A walk in the hills

Today is Constitution Day in Spain, a national holiday. We decided to go on a local walk we hadn't done before so it was in to our red rocket for a 5 minute drive through the village and up to a shingly, rough track that we were not going to brave with our car.

As we followed the track up the mountain it was really interesting to see all the old stone terraces where the vines used to grow. Unfortunately, today it's pine trees, blackberries and other natural vegetation gone wild. As we walked and walked there were more terraces, some very well preserved walls and the remnants of old houses from two hundred years ago.

We came to a small fork in the road and a sign, Mas de Puignau. As we climbed towards the old stone ruin we saw a fenced off bit that we assumed marked an archeological dig. How wrong we were! Inside the fenced area of the ruin were five or six goats guarded on the outside of the fence by one shaggy beige dog and another black, short-haired medium sized dog. Both were of the heinz variety. Neither barked but we decided not to approach them. From the mas or farm, we heard what we thought were cow bells but as we looked out over the ridge the vegetation was too thick to spot anything.

At this point we decided to continue our walk to see if we could find Sant Baldiri de Taballera, an old church. Everything is very well signposted so off we went continuing along an old farm track. The sound of the bells we heard earlier seemed to be coming from just above us. We headed up the hill, and there we saw more goats of every colour and size, than you could imagine, all jostling together eating the grasses and bushes as they walked along. Some were sporting bells. One or two were quite funny as they were up on their hind legs eating the pine trees. We spotted a goatherd with them and had a little chat. Since our Spanish is still in its infancy the chat was a bit limited. However, we did find out that there were five hundred goats in that group. The shepherd is with them during the day but not at night. The goats stay outside as they are pretty tough. The goats just kept coming and coming as we were trying to converse. I thought perhaps they were used for making goat's cheese but he said that they were for their meat or the little ones were. Interesting.  Our butcher says that goat meat is much nicer than lamb. Someday we will give it a try, although I'd prefer not to eat one of these goats.

We left the goats and carried on to the ruin of the old church passing more old terraces, walls and ruins. Finally, we arrived at the church but couldn't get inside as it was fenced off. I wonder if that was to keep the goats out? Surrounding the church were old olive trees and cork oaks. The view over the mountains to the Mediterranean was lovely.

It was time to return to the car before it got dark. A quick coffee in the village ended another lovely day.

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