I put what I thought we were going to need me and the dogs (Ula, Joy and Ging) for a week in my backpack and left Barcelona to a little mountain village in the north of Spain called Anguiano. I planned to be around a week there as I had never been there by myself and, to be honest, no one thought I could survive any longer either. That was at the end of March, so we have been over a month and a half! Crazy hey!
Anguiano is a tinny tinny old mountain (shepherd) village in La Rioja region, basically in the middle of nowhere. No phone reception, one little shop where there is just kan food and few other things, few bars and infinite wild mountains to explore.
Why this village?
My grandmother Catalina was born in this village where she also spent her early teens until the age of 13, when she was send away to work. The house where she was born in 1923 didn’t have water, electricity or bathroom. By then, the first floor was reserved to the animals (pigs, donkey, horse, chickens and few goats or sheeps). Winters were very difficult and the warmth of the animals was a good thing to have. One bed for everybody and very very bad smell. This last thought is what almost every old person says when they remember their youth. Thankfully, I don’t have to share the bathroom with a pig anymore haha. We rebuilt the old family house years ago, and now, it is a nice little house with a lot of history.
We wake up, cuddles in bed (always) and breakfast. After that, I would get the dogs ready, I look at the landscape and choose a mountain. Let’s go. This happened every day for almost 2 months with an exception of two hours dedicated every two weeks for grocery shopping, which I hate to do.
Sure you think I am a big mountain person, but you are wrong very wrong. Although I love to be connected to nature, never considered myself a mountain person. Dogs did. The dogs have converted me into this wild person. They live in the present and their heart and bones belong to the wild, at least mine do, so that is the place to be.
The most difficult thing to deal with here is the solitude. Of course there is people living here, it is just that our paths don’t cross at all as I am always in the mountains with the dogs. Sometimes days and days have passed until I have seen an other human. Fine for a few days but hard for more than that. Right? Well, after suffering of solitude for the first few weeks, I started the journey of listening to myself, to my mind, to see, to feel connected with every little thing. One day I realized that I was not alone anymore.
Solitude is not an absence of energy or action, as some believe, but is rather a boon of wild provisions transmitted to us from the soul. -Clarissa Pinkola Estes
We are wild
We spend almost all day in the mountains. The dogs, the three of them, have started to go off hunting. They disappear up to few hours sometimes, long enough for me to go home and wait for them. Chasing wild rabbits, deers, wild pigs,… running, living. Their wild spirit is raising up. They return home blood-stained, soil-stained, sun and moon-stained. I thought of walking them on the lead, as there are real threats in these woods, but I can’t do it. I won’t take away the sparkle on their eyes, as no one is taking me mine either.
My hair is messy all day long, mud is not just on my boots but all over my clothes, dog hair everywhere. The dogs, the mountains, me … that’s all and enough.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
― Robert Frost
P.S. This day a year ago I was in Malawi getting out of hospital after more than a week admitted for sever malaria. Every time I think about it my stomach still sinks. One year already! Time flies by but who cares, I can’t think of a better place to be that on these mountains breathing this pristine air.