Ria de Arousa - Cabo de Cruz and Villagarcia

Wed 8 Aug 2012 04:51
42:36.71N 8:53.05W


This Ria is full of little bays and headlands, islands and peninsula... it's delightful to explore. We found a splendid little bay at Cabo de Cruz, very small, hardly room for more than one boat to anchor there, with a pretty little beach (with super sparkly sand, flat flakes of granite, that stick persistently to the skin and swirl up as you wade) bordered by rocks bubbling up out of the water. The youngsters swim out to us, just to touch the boat, four to a body board, wrestling and laughing as they come. The town falls down right to the water's edge, brightly coloured and a mix of old and new.

To get there you have to navigate your way through grids of shellfish rafts, they have ropes hanging underneath onto which mussels and, I understand, oysters, grow. The local fisherman come and harvest using hiabs to load the mussels onto the fishing boats.

In one of the bays we stayed in there was a pretty little boat yard for the local fishing fleet.

We keep swapping anchorages, depending on where the wind is blowing from, in order to find most shelter. In fact this morning the wind swung round so we upped anchor and moved around the headland in order to be more sheltered. I realised afterwards I had taken the anchor up, removing various bits of rope that had become stuck around it, squelchy with orange sea cucumbers 4 inches long; conned us around the rafts and between the rocks; dropped anchor and scrubbed the mud from the chain off the deck - all in my pyjamas.  We went back to bed for more sleep afterwards.

Oh and we were joined by a pod of bottle nose dolphins again as we left the bay, displaying wonderfully, huge leaps straight up into the air, so their tails were a couple of meters out of the water before turning in mid air to dive back in. They seemed to have been watching the synchronised swimming at the Olympics too, because three or four of them would curve out of the water in unison, peal off in different directions, then re-group to swim perfectly in line with each other. We are seeing dolphins every two or three days now, but there's no chance of us getting bored by them. As soon as we see them we yell for each other "Phil! Phil! Phil! Dolphins!....". I read last year that scientists have discovered that dolphins have individual names, signature whistles, that they introduce themselves with, recognising the names of those in their family and pod but not knowing the names of dolphins in other pods. I wonder if there's a dolphin in this pod who's saying "Do you know, I think they might have individual names for each other...I'm sure I heard her repeat that call last time we came by...". Not much joy photographing them I'm afraid... click! and all you have is the tail sticking out of the water instead of the dolphin in the air. I've given up trying for the moment, as it spoils my pleasure in watching them, but you all know what dolphins look like anyway!

One of the reasons for a delay in this posting was that I 'popped' back to the UK for a five days last week in order to see my... I was going to say 'boys' but, as the youngest is now a good couple of inches taller than I am and the eldest is touching six foot, I think 'young men' is more appropriate. I flew in on the Wednesday from Santiago de Compostela and returned on Monday, taking the train from Villagarcia de Arousa where Phil stayed in the marina whilst I was away. Villagarcia is quite a big town (one comes out of the marina to find a 24 hr McDonalds right in front of it!), with some pleasant tapas bars in the centre, and lovely promenades along the sea front. There's a particularly charming restaurant in a low red pantiled roofed building at the northern end of the promenade where superb Albarino wine is to be had.

As always in Spain, the town has a municipal market. The one here is really big with hall after hall filled with stalls of local produce: fish in every shape and colour, staring with goggly eyes, silver skin catching the light, gaping mouths lolling with tongue like swim bladders behind spikes of teeth, tentacles of octopus in a splodgy heap; meat in cuts you've never seen before, heaps of pigs' ears, trotters, and even heads, yellow corn fed chickens with the feet still on; fresh vegetables in pyramids and piles, beetroots the size of your head, still earthy, turnip tops sold in bunches like flowers, tomatoes, more green than red, plaits of onions, beans like runner beans but in reds and yellows and whites as well as green.

The little dogs on leads are not quite as plentiful as in Gijon, but still very evident. We saw a perfect, but miniature, doberman yesterday. We saw a pet shop with little puppies in a basket in the window - they are SO cute! All soft furred pink tongued white teethed squirminess, standing on their back legs, jet black eyes sparkling at you, little yelps of greeting. It's a good job that we're on a boat and it's impossible to get one because otherwise one would have to buy them, just to rescue them from the pet shop window. However, I'd be disappointed by these pups as I'd expect them to grow into full size dogs and these chaps would stay tiny instead.

One of the perks of having popped back to the UK was that I returned with an early Christmas present (now, when Christmas comes and he doesn't get much and is all disappointed, remind him he had his present already!) of a Brompton, brother to a lovely, but a little tired now, old model I have. I got my eldest boy, I mean my eldest young man, one to take to university with him in september; he can use the train and bus easily with it, and keep it in his room rather than trust to bike locks outside. We decided that Phil needed one too, as we weren't making much use of mine as we only had one. So a lovely shiny black and red one flew back with me. 

We had a splendid ride yesterday. Up, across and back down the peninsula, around 23 km I figured. Some parts were along boardwalks and sandy paths right next to the coast, others along lanes through the fields of maize and the vinyards, others again through woods, eucalyptus and oak mostly, rich with ferns below. 

We missed our way and ended up in Boiro, remembering to go the 'wrong' way round the roundabouts and filtering in three lanes of traffic with the cars, but we'd seen the west coast of the peninsula across the fields so we knew if we followed it down we'd get back to Cabo de Cruz eventually. Even in the big town there were still farmers driving what look like rotavators, with a trailer attached on which they sat, inching noisily around the roundabout on their way to their small holding.

Phil's daughter and boyfriend are staying with us at present, so after Phil had rowed me and the two bikes back to the boat we were able to relax in the cockpit with a glass of wine and a starter of local blanched white asparagus (with shavings of parmesan, balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with black pepper) whilst they cooked us a supper of risotto. Our legs reminded us that we hadn't cycled for ages when we finally got up, when the sun went down, to clear the table and curl up in our cabin, filled up with tastes, wine, sunshine, salty sea, and a myriad of sights from our ride.