On The Road to Ourense

‘Hi Chris – I’ve just read your blog. What a lovely nomadic adventure – I’d love to slow down and do a journey like this. Have a wonderful time! All the best, M.’ Mark Beaumont

Yes, THE Mark Beaumont, round-the-world cyclist, broadcaster, endurance athlete, and general pin-up boy for us old mamils. Slow down, Mark? Try telling two competitive OAPs that…!

‘I see my path but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.’ Rosalia de Castro

Life on the road appeared to have settled. No 10 tonne trucks threatening to flatten us, no highway police, no sirens…. Until the bullets started flying.

We’d been cycling along pleasantly enough, Liam quizzing Eddie if he had any idea where we were (Eddie has form on being a bit vague about location – or country for that matter)….

In the firing line

We worked it out immediately. Who’d be so stupid to think they were getting shot at?! ‘Course, we knew all along it must be a fiesta… Or ‘Festa’ in Galician. We followed the noise of the fireworks, until we came to the village green, and a party in the making, the band just striking up:

Maria Cristina me quiere gobernar… the sexist song wasn’t our choice
Terrific local musicians

And the band played on, while folks gathered from every corner of the village.
Journeys are all about chance encounters. Those fireworks led us to what might become one of the highlights of our tour. Here’s Eddie setting the scene:

Eddie doing his David Attenborough

Ahi ven o maio de frores cuberto…. Luis Emilio Batallan (great Gallego singer songwriter from the 70s.)

A fantastic occasion in itself, it took me back 45 years. I learned to sing the Galician song ‘O Andar Miudinho’ in my teens. Wonderful that here they’re still singing it – young ‘uns and all. A drinking song, in fact everyone here – despite what it sounds like – was perfectly sober, the day’s festivities just starting:

Maria tells us all about the Festa
O Andar Muidinho!

‘‘All times are beautiful for those who have joy inside; but there is no joy or beauty for those with sad and orphaned souls.’ Rosalia de Castro

What they sounded like later that night – well, maybe it’s best we’ll never know. To be fair, though, they were giving it laldy for their unexpected Scottish guests. They asked us to sing, so we got the fiddle, uke and whistle out and gave them a few songs.

Our first proper busk – and it went down well…. if a bit chaotic by the end. We finished with Auld Lang Syne, in 3 different languages, and 4 different keys:

The Sexygenarians live!

The Sexygenarians have arrived!

For us all it was fun and a lovely experience. For me it was a big deal. Busking again, where I first started in Galicia, nearly 50 years later. Memories of Brendan and his family, my family, my first big adventure, and all that it meant.

Time collapses

‘Es feliz el que soñando, muere. Desgraciado el que muera sin soñar.’ Rosalia de Castro. (Happy she who dies, dreaming. Sad, he who dies without dreams)

We were invited by everyone to come back and join them for dinner in the village hall that night. To party and play on. But the road always calls.

So we wended our way towards Ourense again… But, as Liam explains, and Eddie demonstrates, it’s always a slow start for old geezers on bikes:

Correction from Eddie:
‘I am NOT in my mid 60s!’

‘All times are beautiful for those who have joy inside; but there is no joy or beauty for those with sad and orphaned souls.’ Rosalia de Castro.

I’ve changed the quotes in this page. The last lot done in a hurry. Much more appropriate are the words of the wonderful Gallego poet Rosalia de Castro. More to come, and from the songs of Luis Emilio Batallan. His album Ahi Ven O Maio is a love letter to Galicia – I’ve been listening to that record ever since (Thank you, Carlos Cotovad Tombo). Check out both Rosalia and Batallan if you get the chance.

Next time…. That promised poetry by The Whistlin’ ‘Duco, wisdom from El Gran O, more, and less haywire, music… 100 miles in, over a 7th of the journey behind us.

12 thoughts on “On The Road to Ourense

  1. The cycling stories/videos are fantastic. The welcome you had at the fiesta reminds me of what Postman Pat used to say; “The most important thing for a Postman is being friendly, you know, the human touch”
    I think you’d all make great Postmen.


  2. Loving the long tales and the short sound bites and the beautiful tunes. Not envious of the hilly cycling. The sounds from the village fiesta brought back wonderful memories of our own travels through eastern France when we were “arretes” by the folk of Colmar as they processed through the fields “singing” the Lourdes Hymn. Unforgettable! We still have the recording . . . . . . Long may Fiestas continue.


  3. Loving the blog chavales! Very envious of your amazing trip, menos the cycling – kudos.

    Did I miss a map of your route? It would be great to anticipate your journey 😁


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