Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Victoria Twead: Tales from a Spanish village - Killer Caterpillars

Joe and I are seriously considering building an ark. The rain, which started well before Christmas, is still coming down like stair-rods. The Spanish news speaks of little else and shows us images of flooded towns, collapsed bridges and roads blocked by mudslides and rock falls. Apparently, this is the wettest winter on record.

To get into our village, residents have to zig-zag and slalom past mounds of rocks and mud. The council is doing its best, but as fast as they clear the road, more mud-slides occur. Geronimo, who is a sort of village policeman, battles valiantly with the daily damage, but his efforts are in vain. As fast as he shovels mud aside, more slides down. Water oozes out of every crevice on the hillside, eating away at the mountain. You can’t fight nature, so we’ve given up fretting about our leaky roof; we just keep pots and buckets on standby, ready to catch the drips.

Before Joe starts building his ark, he’s decided we need to get fitter. So we have a new regime. Every day, weather permitting (which isn’t often, so far) we walk the almost perpendicular path to the shrine halfway up the mountain. Our first attempt took us 16 minutes, with frequent rests. We can now do it in 12 minutes, still needing frequent rests. But the pain is worth it for the view from the top, and we see something new every time we take the walk.

Halfway up, we pass Geronimo’s donkey. He watches us with interest but we can’t stop to speak, our mission is to reach the top faster than the last time, or to die in the attempt.

A couple of weeks ago, we arrived at the shrine as usual, panting, heaving and gasping. It’s a kind of look-out post with benches and a few shade trees and we sat down to recover.

‘What’s that?’ I asked, having gained sufficient breath to form words again. I pointed at something a few feet away and Joe walked over, crouching down to examine the curious spectacle I’d spotted...

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