Monday, September 21, 2009

Second post of the day. Scroll down if you missed the first. Which was actually yesterday’s.

Another lovely day in Estremadura, driving first north from Alcántara and then south-east to Trujillo. The first leg of the journey was to give my daughter the chance to see fighting bulls being bred in placid pastures but, sadly, we were rather more successful with pigs. The second leg of the trip took us through a beautiful national park teeming with vultures and deer and – once we’d left the park behind - was rather more successful in the bull stakes. The evening was spent in the magnificent Conquistador town of Trujillo, where we finished off the day with a plate of Iberian ham and a couple of glasses of the local red wine. And, yes, it was again in a Plaza Mayor but sometimes this really can be a valid option.

Alcántara is a small place of huge charm and we stayed in the centre of town, in the Casa Rural Nasencia. As with everyone we’ve met in Estremadura, the owners were welcoming, charming and considerate. As I said yesterday, they really do try harder down here. And everywhere and everyone is so quiet! Does this perhaps reflect Portuguese influence? Either way, it’s not just the humans. I don’t think we’ve heard a barking dog in three days.

But, finally, back to Galicia . . . I’m currently reading a book about Galicia written in 1907 by an Englishwoman called Annette Meakin. This was cited to me by a reader who’s a Galician Nationalist and it’s not terribly surprising that he rates it highly. For, apart from buying into all the Catholic tosh around the myth of St James of Santiago, she seems bent on reproducing and endorsing every laudatory comment ever made about both Galicia and the Galician language over the past two thousand years. If she has even a small sceptical bone in her body, she shows no sign of it. I will return to this subject but I thought I’d just reproduce these two paragraphs, read this evening;-

The province of Coruña — or La Coruña, as it is usually called — covers 7,902 square kilometres, and its population in the year 1905 amounted to 683,915 souls. Coruña is the dampest province in the whole of Spain, and it has more misty days in the year than any other part ; but, on the other hand, it is never troubled with those dry hot winds that cross to Spain from Africa : it is decidedly healthy, and its women and children have very beautiful complexions.

We left Southampton just before midnight on January 10, boarding the Hamburg-American liner of 11,000 tons, the Konig Fredrick August, with the aid of a steam tender. . . Many of the best boats running between Europe and South America are German, and there is no doubt that Germany has begun to take, during recent years, a very lively interest in the development of Argentina and her sister Republics. Germans are wresting from the hands of enervated and self-satisfied Englishmen the trade of which we once thought we had the monopoly by divine right, and it is chiefly by German vessels that Spaniards are emigrating in shoals from their native land to Buenos Ayres, to Uruguay, and to Chile. I do not think I entered a single town in Galicia upon the walls of which I did not see placards denoting the speedy departure of some German liner from Europe to South America.

No comments: