…. But before we do, one last flashback to a piece of nonsense on a previous outing. It tells us a few interesting things… Two of us don’t like hills, and one of us is either a filmic genius, or an idiot….
Still not quite in Spain yet… A conversation in Dublin airport. In the last vid Eddie tested Liam. This blog is all about stories, and here Liam turns the table on Eddie….
Finally we arrive in Vigo.
Laurie Lee talks of his first sight of Spain almost in fear and despair. A barnacle of a town, he called Vigo, where only the beggars move, and slowly. The harshness of the tongue, the bleached stone of the city…. I saw nothing like that in 1975, and today we experienced something different again. A creamy light, the smell of Celtic rain in the air on a fine Spring day. Flax coloured buildings with red tiled roofs. Galicia remains one of Spain’s poorest regions (Gallego nationalists would say, Country), though today we came across only two homeless men.
My visit in ’75 is actually longer ago now – 44 years – than between that and Lee’s first encounter – 40 years. Back then I was astounded by the poverty on the streets – the beggars, the disabled, babies in homeless mothers’ arms.
We live too far away and know too little about the complexities of Spanish politics and life to make easy judgements. The fact remains that Vigo looks and feels a good deal richer now than in either 75 or 35. But both the Vigo I first knew and today feels welcoming, the language sweet, the people vibrant and happy. As everywhere in Spain, families and friends go out in groups till late in the night, kids running happily and safely under your feet and around the square, looked out for by everyone.
It’s a joy to be back.
But it’s also a harsh reminder of the ravages of time… On the first of these blogs I posted a picture of me – probably 1977/8 – busking in Vigo. The lads thought it might be fun (!) to recreate that image. I recognized the street where I used to busk, and found what might have been – much changed, not unexpectedly – the shop I stood in front of. Here’s me again as a young ‘un, before Vigo had seen many buskers….
And in roughly the same place, as an auld git….
‘Juventud, divino tesoro / Ya te vas, para no volver….’ (Ruben Dario)
This is a coast-to-coast pilgrimage. So we have to start off by – or even in – the sea. And end the journey 700-odd miles away on the east coast.
It is a challenge full of difficulty, danger, and ambition, proving that we are three intrepid, resourceful characters. Or maybes a trio of bamsticks. You decide….
(Tomorrow, the first cycle. Some beautiful singing from Maeve Mackinnon, poetry by Eddie…. Stick with us, it’ll get better – honest!)