Friday, November 03, 2006
Back from the Bardenas
If you get in the car and drive due south of Bordeaux for four hours, you arrive in an area of Spain that is so utterly otherworldly that, well only expressions like utterly otherworldly will do. In no time at all you can be walking along drovers' trails through putty-coloured landscapes that are irresistibly reminiscent of the Far West. You can picnic under a blazing sun, sense that someone is watching you, look skywards and spy two creepy vultures on a crag openly sizing up your children. You can kick up dust from the crazy-paving patterns of cracked earth and rub pungent rosemary from the scrub between your hands. You can wonder at the unsettling quietness of the pueblos with their empty streets and houses all squares and rectangles with blank facades.
Later, you can wander up and down the steep streets of Ujué, drinking in the crystalline air and the views across miles and miles of scrubby hills dotted with elegant white wind farms. You might marvel at how so many people manage to survive in such a barren landscape, not to mention a distinct lack of grocery stores. And when you do push open the jangling door of a well-hidden alimentaciòn, all you will find in the gloomy interior are a couple of tomatoes, a few faded packets of dry goods, and massive jars of the local honey. It's a relief then that in the evening you can roll back to the Txapi-Txuri for a wholesome Navarrais dinner and a bottle of the local vino tinto.
(And after all that, you might spend the four-hour drive home mentally composing a blog post with far too many adjectives and adverbs)