We have been living in Galicia for exactly three weeks. The night we arrived, Thursday, 12th July, exhausted, we fell into our bed; prepared for us by our new friend Elaine, who is from Edinburgh. She left us a box of basic supplies, that included a home-made cake. We showered, ate, and fell into a deep sleep.
Day 2, we hurriedly bought basics, like a few towels, groceries; pet-food, in anticipation of the arrival of our dog and cat. They were kennelled for 8 days, while we emptied and handed over our house in Sydney, then stayed with family and friends for five days prior to departure.
A very confused Raphael and Minnie arrived at 2.30am on Saturday, 14th July, having travelled from Sydney via Dubai and Madrid, enduring a final 9-hour road-trip to our village. The driver, who spoke no English, got lost, and had to be guided in “Spanglish”, with us waiting in the village at 2am, in our pajamas, carrying flash-lights, to guide him to our house. Both animals have since adapted amazingly well, and are now settled and happy, despite the daily flow of new people.
On our third day in Spain, we hosted our Workaway volunteers, a couple, from Montreal. Their youth, fitness and eagerness, the shot in the arm we needed. Maude-Helen and Antoine helped us and our two labourers, Eddie and Geoff, rip through a week of garden and orchard clearance; the demolition of a wrecked poly-tunnel and pergola roof, the stripping of all the out-of-control ivy and wisteria from the house. We discovered a second bathroom window we never knew we had! Lunch on the terrace each day – pots of chunky soups, bread and cheese, cake and biscuits, brought the team together with updates on progress, and plans for the next day.
Dinner each night, clustered in the cool of the kitchen, was time for tales of travels past, and future. Raphael and Minnie made new friends, ‘though Minnie’s gift of a furball, on our guests’ bed, was not something they would take home to cherish.
Raphie has had his first encounters with local dogs – most happy, one not-so. The neighbour’s black labrador Rodney is now his sworn enemy. Minnie has escaped twice and been herded back in by the dog.
We’ve seen our first Galician wildlife: a boar in a neighbour’s garden, and a fox in ours. Last week wolves killed a farmer’s goat just a few kilometres away. We have been warned to watch out for eagles swooping on our small dog. Eddie’s cat had a recent narrow escape.
The weather has been hot, with just a little of that famous Galician rain we will expect in the Autumn. I have already baked a pie using our neighbour’s apples, and some of my own blackcurrants. I eagerly await the pears, apples, chestnuts and elderberries in September, which will precede the lighting of a giant bonfire in my orchard in October, the ashes of which will be scattered on the new raised beds before the Spring planting.
We sit out on the terrace each evening for half an hour before dinner, and admire our view of the village. Nesting storks clack their beaks. The rustling trees and sound of the running stream bring us peace. Neighbours pass and say: “hola!”
The waitress in our favourite café knows our coffee preferences, and loves Raphie, who sports a new harness. He has made friends with Pauwel, a pug-cross, Fortunata, a flirtatious Maltese, and Nesca, a shambling, elderly Mastine.
We have not yet begun the habit of siesta, but we already take a larger, later lunch, after which we do little until it is cooler, around 7pm. We no longer hurry about our business. We stroll. We consider the roses, in the absence of lilies, in our garden. So-far, life is so good.