an evening in the pueblos
To escape from the chaos of Sant Joans’ eve, we drove up to Joanetes on Friday afternoon, armed with our alimentos, a ventilador, hiking shoes, petards, and a Breytenbach novel. It was also to spare Lord Bourton from a night of cowering terror. Underneath the dignified manner, the English setter had a fear of firecrackers.
The cherries were all eaten by the pajaros, or dried by the sun, shrinking inwards. Dark red fruit folded into seed. Just two weeks ago, they were in their full glory of lucent yellow and rose.
A remarkable thing about Joanetes is the presence of wild orchids. Their distinctive forms scatter through the fields and attract amateur photographers.
Friday evening I took a hike up the rocky path. In a shaded path I spotted a grey fox. It turned and stared at me for a second, ears large and alert, before darting off again. The last I saw of it was the black tip of its tail. Besides foxes there are also boars, living behind dug-out earth. Unlike the boars (and monkeys) of Singapore, the creatures in Joanetes make themselves scarce.
The thing about living in an old cottage is that there’s always work to be done. Things to be washed, things to be fixed. Domestic life fills up the hours.
Lord Bourton is not a dog to be walked. Like a true hunting dog, he is born to run wild in the mountains. Walking him on a leash is arms day for the human.
Lunch is taken alfresco, in glorious view of the mountains. The mosquitoes also take the opportunity for a good lunch. Accompanying this feast is a symphony of carillons — the wind-borne rhythm of cow bells and the gravity of the clock tower.
In the evening we go out to the pueblos. Lord Bourton assumes his role as a civilised dog, walking elegantly on a leash. First up is L’Hostalets, in Valls d’en Bas, a pueblo of charming stone houses. Decorative grapes and red flowers are trendy here. The dark, bold leaves of the uvas drape themselves across the stones and wood, the fruits themselves are small, hard and puckeringly sour.
Here we take an incredible dinner at Braseria Esteve, of roasted vegetables, mushroom omelet, coca bread, roasted chicken, etc. etc. A good price for heartfelt service, authentic food and atmosphere.
After a stretch of winding mountain roads, we arrive at Sant Feliu de Pallerols. Legend goes that a townsman was so captivated by the full moon in the river one night, that he took a basket to fish the moon. From then on, the townspeople were known as pescallunes — moon-fishers, people with hopes, dreams and many projects.
In the towns square a singing concert began at 11pm, after a few beers have washed away their shyness, the seniors danced the night away.
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