Sunday, May 20, 2007

León

This will be very short as I am in a smoky Internet cafe without my reading glasses, and the combination of smoke and eyestrain is making me nauseous.

We walked a few kilometres this morning before a terrific rainstorm closed down the walking. We summoned the bus and drove to the lunch destination, which was of course not a picnic as planned, but in a bar which was fortunately empty. It's still raining now on Sunday evening, the forecast is for more tomorrow (a day off in León).

Northern Spain is much greener than I had expected from visits to the south. This is a rich agricultural region with frequent and abundant rainfall, there are good thick crops on large fields everywhere. But there are no farms in the usual English-cultural-background sense: one looks in vain for a typical farmstead. The Spanish live in towns and villages and commute up to several kilometres to their fields. There are many large brick granaries at the corners of fields, some quite old and ornately built.

It is as hilly as I expected, there are drifts of hills and smallish mountains (young in geological terms, with sharply defined ridges and contours) flowing through the countryside, like a huge watersnake emerging and sinking again into a sea of grasses; the hilly bits are sometimes very rough and stony indeed, suitable for vines or orchards at best.

One surprise is the number of storks in certain areas (they seem to like neither windy areas nor stony ground), there can be up to four nests on a single roof. The breeding season is well under way, the chicks have feathered out and are walking about on the nests but not yet attempting to fly. I've never seen a stork close up before, they are truly enormous birds, their wingspan is greater than my height. And the noise! the beak-clattering greeting when one returns to the nest is clearly audible from two streets away. (And the shit! the roofs below the nest are thickly covered in storkshit which appears to be just as sticky and disgusting as goose- or duckshit. Many newer buildings have wrought-iron spikes on chimneys and ridgelines to keep them away. But that's another story.)

Gotta go, my eyes and nose are hurting. More tomorrow.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Pacian said...

"Many newer buildings have wrought-iron spikes on chimneys and ridgelines to keep [the storks] away. But that's another story."

A story about a novel form of contraception.

May 20, 2007 at 9:07:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger JoeinVegas said...

It sounds like a marvelous vacation. Sorry about all the rain, but that's what makes it green.

May 21, 2007 at 4:51:00 PM GMT+2  

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