Sunday, July 26, 2009

Costa da Morte and Cabo Fisterra

The next two things that you encounter while sailing along the coast of Spain are rather intimidating in name and history – the Coast of Death (Costa da Morte) and Cabo Finisterre (end of the earth).

Costa da Morte is the name given to the long stretch of coast lying in the north-west of the Province of A Coruña and which runs between A Laracha and Muros. The Costa da Morte received its name both from the many ships wrecked upon it’s treacherous shores and the fact that it includes Cabo Fisterra which was believed to be the end of the world where everything sunk into the sea (Cabo Finisterre translates into the end of the earth). We stayed far from the coast as we travelled along but the rugged rocky cliffs and jagged rocks looming out of the water forced us to keep a close eye on our charts and GPS. It is an ominously beautiful stretch of coast but completely exposed to the swells and weather of the Atlantic Ocean and it is easy to see where the history and legends come from.

Tired from the party in Corme and in need of facilities we stopped in the Ria de Camarinas and spent the night at the village marina. The harbourmaster spoke no English but he was very friendly and loved the children. In the early evening he encouraged us to join him on the dock to show us a octopus that he had just caught. It had beautiful purple and red colours and had an amazing way of moving and sort of oozing along moving its tentacles with great precision. As we watched, it almost escaped through a very small crack in the dock (and it was a very large octopus). The harbourmaster immediately started roughly pulling at its tentacles and I quickly assured him that the children had seen enough and it was fine to let the poor octopus go free. He continued to pull hard on the tentacles and finally his experienced hands deftly turned its head inside out and pulled out both of its two brains. Not a pretty sight, made worse by our recently aquarium acquired knowledge that an octopus is as intelligent as a dog (you can even teach them to do tricks). He explained that he expected to get about 20 euros for the 2 kilos of meat. Pulpo a lo Gallego is a very common dish in the region and I must say we find it quite delicious.

We rounded Cabo Fisterra on July 19th. As soon as we rounded the cape, the huge seas and swells from the northern coast flattened and we enjoyed a lovely sail. It is an imposing cliff and a milestone for anyone cruising to the south of Europe. We dropped the anchor in the small harbour of Finisterre and hiked (and hitched) up to the top of Monte Facho to the Cabo Fisterra lighthouse. This is the final destination for many pilgrims on the Way of St. James (O camiño de Santiago) and many of the pilgrims come here after completing the voyage to the shrine of St. James in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela to burn their clothes or boots on the cliff. All in all a cape full of legend and history and as we gazed over the water from the top of the cliff we felt quite elated to be part of it even in our very small way.
The following day we moved on to Muros, a large but very nice harbour town with a gorgeous old town area, small narrow streets with stone staircases, beautiful old stone church and a old outdoor stone laundry house that is still in use for washing clothes.

On July 23rd, Seb and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary and were treated to a night of babysitting from Jeroen and Luise. This allowed us to have a wonderful meal hopping from terrace to terrace knowing that Emma and Macsen were in good hands. The last restaurant that we visited was situated just in front of a playground. We stumbled home to bed at 0100 and were amazed that the playground was still full of children of around Emma’s age. We have altered our schedules significantly and the children generally wake up at 0930, siesta from 1400-1600 and occasionally sometimes go to bed as late at 2300 but we have not yet integrated to this extent.

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