Leaving Home (Portugal) never feels right, even if it is to go on an unlimited holiday. Although, after a couple of hours on the road, it feels like I haven’t done nothing else but that.
I took Tom to a little “hidden” treasure – only the “yocals” know about it – the Termas de Gande. Fantastic spot of natural hot water spring that every so often hides itself under the river. You can hop from hot, tepid and cold water to your hearts content. And it is for free. Walking along the river bank you can find another treasure, not so unknown – Aquis Querquennis. Fantastic Roman Ruin of a war camp.
I was dreading our drive along the centre of Spain.
Dreadful isn’t it?
I wasn’t expecting an uninhabited city, little less TWO of them! I got in a bit of a mood with Tom because he didn’t want to go to Tiermas (we had to pass a barrier and it was illegal – but it’s only illegal if you’re caught, right?).
So… on our way to Agüero Tom spotted Esco. A church could be seen from the road, as you got closer, roofless houses still gave shape to the small cobbled road, delicate walls stood on their own, as did terraces, balconies and columns where once you might have found the village hall. All ruined, all desolate, all fallen.
We came across some, then loads of sheep and sure enough, we found the shepherd. He was with his two dogs, Tom nodded and let the shepherd be, I obviously stopped and talked to the man.
We’ll call him Julio. Julio had lived in Esco since he was a baby and is now 67. For 54 years he has lived mostly on his own, within a small community of 7 people that still have some sort of property in the area. Back in the 60’s a dam was built creating the beautiful scenery that Embalse de Yesa is. This obviously came to a cost – most of the farming fields were flooded. Three villages were paid to leave their homes. Julio seemed disappointed that people went so easily. He kept saying that it was their choice, that they could’ve stayed, but chose the easy way. He seemed fairly happy, “as long as I am healthy I’m happy” – he said. He asked a lot of questions, as did I. “I’ll soon have my holiday when July comes, a nice day out in my car. Can’t leave the sheep alone for too long you see!”, he kept saying. I asked him for a picture, but he courteously denied it “I don’t look very good in pictures” – he said. I never asked his name but his constant talk about July (Julio in Spanish) made me chose it as his pseudonym. So I left him dreaming with That day in July. As for the rest of the year he sits at the top of a ruin watching his sheep and talking with his dogs.
Finding a campsite isn’t too hard, but finding a good one can be a task. On the edge of desperation I found Agüero. A beautiful little village shadowed by the Mallos de Agüero – a picturesque rock formation. The scenery is breathtaking, as is the 360 degree 2 mile walk. It was bloody hot that day which made our drive to Andorra – our next stop – almost unbearable.