Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In which we adventure, spread Basquitude and enjoy a miraculous rain-free vacation in Galicia

Hello everyone. When last I left you, I was getting ready to head to Donostia, a nearby city and my part-time hobby.

Who was it that said when we make plans, God laughs? Soon after I started planning that, my friend Jessica sent me an e-mail asking if I wanted to go to Galicia, another northern Spanish community, and stay with her and some of her family friends for the puente. I did, and about 40 hours later we were on an (11-hour!) train to A Coruña. Rafa and Antonia, the couple Jessica knows, met us at the station, took us to their house and the fun began. If you think I said that last part sarcastically, take your cynical glasses off because it was honestly spectacular.

First of all, let me start off by saying that Rafa and Antonia are probably the awesomest couple ever to come out of Andalucia. Rafa quickly set about entertaining us by asking Jessica about her family, calling me Meryl Streep and telling us Spanish word-play jokes. Antonia kept us spectacularly well-fed all weekend - I can only dream of emulating her cooking. Her churros are the stuff of sappy poetry.

I will not tell you all about A Coruña just yet because it is time for me to go to sleep and back to work tomorrow morning, but in summary: all days, miraculously perfect sunny weather (Galicia is known for rain). Day 1, Rafa showed us around the city and was hilarious. Day 2, we explored, took cold medicine and drowsy naps on benches (whoops!). Day 3, we took a bus into Santiago de Compostela, which I will tell you a little about.

Santiago is the destination of a famous and extremely popular pilgrimage across northern Spain. People hike, typically from France, to make it to the point where supposedly St. James's bones were discovered.

What this practically means is a lot of tourists who never get to spend much time in other parts of Spain. They have a few days in Santiago, though, where they want to take it all in. Gift shops have accommodated this need by supplying souvenirs that have nothing to do with Galicia (or, indeed, sometimes Spain at all) but have everything to do with items people might want but can't go to the appropriate regions to buy. We thought this was fantastic and roamed from shop to shop looking for these trinkets and coming up with slogans like these:

"I went to Galicia and all I got was this Catalan flag."
"I went to Galicia and all I got was this Betis doll."
"I went to Galicia and all I got was this Basque flag knife."
"I went to Galicia and all I got was this Brazil jersey."

Anyway, the night before we left Jessica gave Antonia a scarf and Rafa a Basque boina or beret, which was hilarious (just the boina, the scarf was just nice). Rafa came in to breakfast this morning wearing his boina and we nearly choked on our breakfast we laughed so hard.

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