Sunday 29th June 2014
Miracle of miracles, when I went up to use the facilities, the Marina WiFi was on, which meant a quick update on the weather, before the yomp to get the morning bread. Once again, Muxia was a little sleepy, with a few, men mostly, out walking (marching almost) before the day begun. Over breakfast we poured over the weather and made a plan. We think that the weather will close in tomorrow morning, so whatever we do today will be what we do tomorrow – if we stay in Muxia, it will be for another two days (unless it passes through more quickly) or if we move to Camarinas, it will be for two days. What to do? We decided that we would stay and try and find the path up the mountain.
It was pretty overcast this morning, and very sticky, so I was hoping it would clear and that some ‘air’ would flow around us. The Met Office app for us here said the clouds would break up around 11:00, and it was true to its word. So, we set off in what we’d term a lovely summer’s day at home. White fluffy clouds and plenty of sunshine in between.
Our walk in total we reckoned to be about 12km (we were following distance markers for most of it, so it’s a pretty solid estimate, not a fishing story one!), and we climbed 312m, or 1,000ft – since we started at sea-level, that’s also a statement of accuracy! We followed the route out that we’d gone so far along yesterday, following the coast road out of Muxia. At Praia Lourida we took a track, which took us across the back of the sand dunes at the back of the beach. It is a STUNNING beach, with no one on it. An arc of perfect white sandy beach, rocks around it and sea that coloured from turquiose through to sparkles of sapphire. If only it weren’t so cold! I think on the way down I could have happily gone for a soak, as we were pretty hot after the climb.
The track behind the beach climbed steadily, as we picked our way up as far as a road. Which way to go? There were no signs, so we decided to keep going up, so turned right. This brought us into the hamlet of Lourida. My word! It was like stepping through a window in time – a wormhole, perhaps?! – and we had the distinct impression that nothing much had changed in tens of years. The first person we saw was a young girl, early teens, sitting on the side of the road, with a sheep on a lead. Was it a pet? A couple were near her, ruddy complexions from hours out in the sun, talking. We mumbled a ‘hola’ at them, which they responded to. There were several ‘horreos’ in the village, the tomb-like storage facilities on stilts, and it was very much a farming community. As we passed the half dozen buildings around the bend of the road, a cacophony of barking sounded, as the village dogs chimed with each other, some leaping towards us as we passed. That made me jump, and reach (bravely) for Pete. “They’re on chains, love,” he soothed (as visions of Malta flashed through my mind, a long story, a long walk involving being pursued by a pack of angry dogs, and Pete with a rock in his hand.), as we walked by. Just outside the village was a sign for “Mirador de Monte Facho” – so that was our route. Up, and up, and up! The breeze that we’d had as we walked along the coast disappeared, and the humid air seemed to hang heavy amongst the trees, and the road baking in the noon sun. It made for an ascent that felt very hard work, and we went through at least three ‘nearlies’ before reaching the summit…. One ‘nearly’ was Pete humouring me, and the other two were when we thought we were ‘nearly there’, but the road cruelly bent round and asked another steep section of us. I said that we would surely see America from the top, out west, and Pete said we would probably see the curvature of the earth….. Well, perhaps not.
When we made the summit (marked by aerials) the view was just awesome, with Muxia looking like a model down below. It was well worth the effort, and a real sense of achievement given (1) the climb, and (2) that we had no map! We also knew that the descent would be less taxing (Pete wished for a bike to zoom down on, I didn’t) but a little challenging on the knees. We’d spied what we thought was a road that we might take instead of picking our way around the beach, but this turned out to be a wrong assumption – but it lead us back to the point we’d left the road out of Muxia, in fact, it was the same road (hence the km markers).
Pete bought me a wonderful lunch, taken in the Restaurant O Coral. We have completely ignored the guide book, and had walked past this place a few times – always busy, and looked interesting. There were no tables outside, so we rather chilled in the air conditioning (we were the only tourists inside, the rest were locals, dressed for a Sunday lunch out, us in shorts… Hmmm…). We shared a salad and our favourite octopus, and then Pete had a steak (perfectly cooked, with chips, the first in ages) and I went for monkfish, grilled, with an unmanageable pile of boiled potatoes. A couple of glasses of vino, and a coffee….. Just delightful.
From there we wandered back to Whinchat, I for one was weary (awake reading in the small hours for some reason), and had to have a snooze. Pete spent a long time trying to download the paper (Marina WiFi is very, very slow), and so the afternoon has ebbed and flowed. Supper was modest, given the scale of lunch, a Julia-omlette. The front is piling in, as evidenced by the cirrus giving way to altocumulus, and the pressure no doubt will begin to tumble (1030mb currently). Another conference tomorrow morning as we decide what to do – there’s a lovely looking anchorage in the Ria that I’d really like to go to, but that doesn’t need a south-westerly pounding in.
Nestled on the slopes,
Lourida stares, unblinking.
Tears holes right through us.