Festa da Carbailleira

This is how you throw a big ol’ Galician party:

Find a suitable place in the middle of the forest. An oak grove will do very nicely.

Get a TON of food. If you’re expecting ten people, plan for fifty. If you’re expecting a hundred, you’re going to need lots of wine…

and THOUSANDS of empanadas!

Find someone who plays the pandereta (tambourine)…

and someone else who plays the gaita (bagpipe)…

and then invite a ton of people who feel like dancing. Instant party!

These pictures were from our adventure to the Festa da Carballeira this weekend. A carballeira is an oak grove, and this place is literally in the middle of a forest, outside the tiny town of Zas. Makeshift wooden tables were set up, and folk bands from Galicia, Euskadi, and even Ireland were invited. Churrasco (pork ribs) were roasted, and empanada was hand made, and wine was rolled in in barrels and served in little souvenir clay jugs.

At dusk, the lights came on, the smoke from the fires and the roasting meat wafted up through the trees, and the bands started to play. And people came. And then more people, and more people, and by midnight there was this huge party in the middle of nowhere. It was unseasonably cold for a summer night in August, but no one seemed to care – there were thousands of people dancing and drinking and eating and generally having a very good time (it seems to be a theme here in Galicia).

But when we finally left in the wee hours of the morning, the sound died away as we made our way down the pitch-black street back to our car, and saw the thousands of stars that can’t be seen from Santiago. We could no longer hear the music or see the lights through the trees. It was almost like the party had never existed, like it was some kind of secret meeting in the middle of the forest. That made it that much better.

Cleo does yoga!

I joined a yoga class a while ago because I work from home and spend too much time sitting at a computer desk. I love yoga; it’s not as intense as running or other aerobic activities, but it definitely helps you stretch and become more flexible and use muscles you don’t often exercise, and move your body in ways you normally wouldn’t. That is, unless your name is Cleo.

Cleo is a master of yoga – a yogi, if you will. Yoga is second (or first!) nature to her. When Cleo is relaxed, she is capable of reaching kitten nirvana by using various and difficult positions, such as:

Long Belly Stretch Position (Strechishasana)

Crescent Backbend Position (Bendishasana)

Invisible Backstroke Position (Swimmishasana)

Crouching Tiger Position (Pouncishasana)

Come-Out-With-Your-Hands-Up Position (Innocentshasana)

And, of course, no yoga session can end without the final resting position and total relaxation:

Delicious Catnap Position (Sleepishasana)

Warning: Do not attempt these positions without the assistance of a trained yogi/kitty and a very bendy backbone.

Castro de Baroña

So, this is what I’ve been up to lately:

Actually, I’ve been pretty busy! My friend Hanna from Germany (who is mentioned in many previous posts from years ago when she lived in Santiago too) came to visit, and we had a total blast during the (few) days she was here. Among other adventures we embarked on together (including getting lost in en medio del monte and very long nights out), we took her to Castro de Baroña, the ruins of an old Celtic settlement perched high on a cliff jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s quite a walk to get out to this point, and along the way, there are many little towers of stones that people have left as a reminder of a long-lost culture.

Every time I visit a place like this, I just can’t believe what hard-asses the Celts were. I think about that pretty often, living here in Galicia. I mean, I (a tough, Midwestern-bred Chicagoan) suffer enough in winter here; I can’t imagine having to brave the Galician elements back before modern technology and readily available hot water (well, sometimes, anyway). And they chose the most inhospitable, windy, rocky, steep, treacherous area on which to build their homes (overlooking what was, to them, the end of the world). But then there’s the view:

castro de baroña

Maybe the Celts had the right idea after all.