The reactions of friends and family to our news-flash: “we are moving to Galicia” has been revelatory. Most, once their eyebrows have descended, have reacted in incredibly affirming and positive ways. A hearty: “Wow!” has been the most common. It’s a feel-good reaction, and it shows that someone is genuinely pleased for you. It is those who have said nothing who have demonstrated their true feelings towards us; how little they care.
A tiny minority of the people we consider close to us have barely acknowledged the event, save to ask a couple of shallow questions. I conclude that this reaction demonstrates either envy, or an indication that our relationship has never been more than superficial for them. That’s disappointing, but not surprising, and I will lose no sleep, ‘though my Christmas card list will shorten.
The most common and, probably obvious, question, asked of us, from supporters and detractors alike, has been: “Why Spain, and why Galicia?”
To the first part, I answer: “Why not?” Then, why Galicia? Neither of us has visited Galica before. I have been to Andalusia, and I liked it, but never felt drawn to it. While browsing the, then remote, possibility of re-locating to Europe, Galicia was not even on my list. I looked at France, at Italy, and even Portugal before Spain. And, when Spain began to make the most sense, it was to Asturias that I looked. I found beautiful houses in abundance, in lovely locations. None excited me.
Out of curiosity, and just to compare property prices, I finally typed G.A.L.I.C.I.A into the search box, and when the page opened, I lost my heart. The more I looked at her, the deeper I fell. Perhaps it called to that drop of Celtic blood in my veins? Those Atlantic shores, those green mountains, and deep ravines; those ancient forests; the food, the music, the people?
And then I spotted “our house.” Just as my first sight of Sarah told me that she was “The One”, I looked at her and knew. I woke Sarah up at 1.30am to tell her: “I have found our house.”
She sits comfortably in a hamlet of six stone houses outside a small, but vibrant village in the region of Ribeira Sacra – the “Sacred River.” A lane lined with blackberries and bay trees leads the way to her. She sits secure behind tall stone walls and a wooden gate, on high-ground, overlooking our piece of land, and the wall of the 12th century monastery that runs along our border. From the terrace, you can see the roofs of the village – a stork’s nest or two – and the clock tower in the village square. You can hear the bell ring the angelus at morning, noon, and sunset, summoning the nuns to their devotions. You can hear birdsong. No traffic noise.
Our land has a small orchard: an apple tree, a cherry tree, peaches, kiwi-fruit, raspberries and blackcurrants. It has trees bearing sweet chestnuts, hazel and walnuts. Poppies sway in the breeze. Climbing roses scent the air.
And there is my answer. This is why we chose Galicia.