So it is true that my post-uni visions had mostly encompassed chasing summer around the world and attaining a year long tan. Galicia has without a doubt proven to be the exact opposite. But there is no doubt that this little place has a slight charm about it and it is certainly rubbing off on me. If I hadn’t taken this job, it is fair to say the chances of me visiting such a small village in Spain and experiencing a bit of life in the North are pretty non-existent. I haven’t regretted my decision in the slightest. If anything I have learnt that the weather will never put me off doing anything ever again and I have been given the time to pursue the development of random skills like juggling… I’m actually getting the hang of it. The group of people I am working with are pretty bloody nice and so far I have been able to manage the groups of kids I have each week *touch wood*. All in all I really cannot complain. I have been given plenty of time to plan my next move, sending out a gazillion emails in search of TEFL jobs in Madrid. Sometimes I think about what I am being paid to do (run a few activities, entertain kids, learn Spanish and to juggle) and I am so glad I am not sitting in an office or stacking shelves!
I feel I should say some more about this kooky village which I could barely find any information about online before I got here. Os Peares is situated where the rivers Sil and Miño meet, steeped on a valley made up of evergreen trees and little vineyards dotted around. This quaint little place on the Ribeira Sacra is truly unlike anywhere else I have ever been. Our camp is based on the dam and the sound of the gushing water provides a rhythm to life here. On the opposite side of the camp, higher up the valley, there is a busy main road with hundreds of cars passing- most oblivious to the this little oasis of calm with only one winding road leading to and from the village, used by barely a couple of cars each hour. Google Images focussing on the blue railway bridge that spans the river, as the central focus of Os Peares and there is no doubt that this seemingly bright and modern structure stands out amongst the apparently dormant surroundings and rundown houses. From the tucked away railway station you can catch a train once a day to the nearest town, Ourense, with a return available 5 hours later. The village shop offers all the necessities and the old man behind the counter totals up your amount and change due using pen and paper. Whilst no-one ever seems to be around, the amount of fruit and veg he has on offer must mean someone is out there buying it! The pub is a convenient 10 minute walk from camp, Xugo, ran by Oskar, who I am pretty sure will have tripled his income due to our visits by the time we leave. With beer at €1.50 and local wine at €5 a bottle, you can’t blame us for being frequent visitors. And it didn’t take me long to work out the familiar faces that haunt the place most nights. Sometimes I worry about being English in such a place- I am never quite sure just how far the worldwide reputation of “Brits abroad” has reached. But it seems that the locals love having us around. Last weekend a lady at the train station said it was so nice to finally see some young people around (thankfully one of my friends could speak Spanish and translate this!) and we were invited to go to their community night to celebrate a local festival. The rundown church hall provided a venue and with a €5 ticket we were fed and watered with Churizzo, cake, wine, some homemade cafe liquor and a very sweet liquid served out of a caldron after a few spells/poems had been read. The lady from the station was there and seemed very happy to see us. There were 3 other tables and probably about 40 people- it genuinely wouldn’t surprise me if this was the total population of the village! I just wished I could speak Spanish to find out more about the place! It is sad because the majority of people there were definitely at the age of retirement and with very few young people, I feel like this place is at the risk of dying out. The dam used to provide employment for all the men in the village, but after it was sold off and mechanised, now producing hydroelectricity, these families have moved away for work. Needless to say after our night was not finished after these festivities and we continued the party at Xugo until around 5am. Our Sundays back at work seem to be following a very similar pattern of dread for the new kids arriving and a group attempt to support each other through the day working on a couple of hours sleep and a rather heavy head!