Yesterday Verena and I climbed to the top of Monte Pedroso. When she first described the mountain to me, I thought it sounded a lot like the hill on which Christian (my boss) lives, and where I go to work every day. She swore it was a different place, but as we neared my familiar path and the familiar incline that kills me every time I walk up that hill, I realized it was indeed the same mountain. She looked incredulously at me, panting, “You walk up here every day?!” To be fair, I only walk halfway up it, but still…it’s a trek.
I like walking to Christian’s house because it is still within the Santiago city limits, but it’s like entering another world. The bustling noise of the city centre and the rush of car traffic is left behind. The multistory apartment buildings give way to small homes, farmhouses, with chickens and dogs running around in poorly-fenced-in yards. The sound of running water can be heard from the rocky brook, and then, farther up the hill, from the large faucet and pool that are still used for outdoor communal clothes-washing. The water comes straight from the top of the mountain. Usually there is a smell of chimneys.
It took us forever to get to the top of the hill on rocky winding paths through the pine and birch forest. But once we got up there, the view was well worth the belabored breathing; we arrived at the perfect time in the late afternoon to watch the sun bathe the whole city in a golden light, and then to watch as it sank over the waves of blue hills into distant Galicia, turning the sky a pink, then orange, then deep red hue that changed with every passing moment.
When we came back down, it was already dusk, and the cathedral was lit up against the blackening sky. When we arrived back into the centre of town, it was already busy with the buzz of Saturday night. The mountain was not far away, but it was far enough to escape for a day from Santiago without going anywhere at all.
A Day Out in Santiago: Pictures of Monte Pedroso and more…