Pontepedriña is a not particularly attractive neighborhood in the Zona Nueva of Santiago de Compostela. The architecture consists of bland and boxy slabs of concrete that bear little resemblance to the UNESCO sight pilgrims and tourists come to visit year round. Yet on the border of this ugly neighborhood, just a matter of crossing the street, is a small paradise. To the southwest is the Parque do Paxonal Eugenio Granell, and to the southeast is Brañas do Sar, a lush park with verdant trails along the river Sar. The urban gardens of Brañas do Sar belong to a network of over 270 community gardens throughout Santiago de Compostela, one of the largest networks of urban gardens in Spain. The gardens create community–people share and trade crops and conversation, and the older generations pass down their love and respect for the land to the younger generations. In Galicia it is not at all uncommon to have an active vegetable garden attached to your home, so the urban gardens extend this practice to those who live in apartments and have little access to land they can cultivate.
The Rapa das Bestas is an annual ritual in various villages in Galicia. Every year in the first weekend in July wild horses are herded down from the mountains where they graze peacefully all year-round. They are herded into a Curro (a type of corral with a stone enclosure) with seats above much like a smaller version of a coliseum. Here in the Curro the aloitadores subdue the horses and cut their manes and brand them (today it’s done with a microchip). Sabucedo is the only Rapa where men use only their bodies and strength to hold the animals during the ritual shaving of the manes and branding.
Herding the horses into the Curro.
The first aloitador jumps on the horse.
The aloitadores hold the front of the horse.
The vet is ready to treat the horses for parasites.
Man versus horse.
The Rapa das Bestas is a pre-Roman ritual. It is also a festival day for the local villagers and a family affair. Today the Rapa has turned into an international touristic event. Yet, once the horses are inside the Curro, as the ancient struggle between man and horse takes place, you feel as though you have stepped back in time. Inside the Curro are the aloitadores, and often with them, their children, some young enough to still be carried in the arms of their fathers. For some of the young adult men and sometimes women, it is a sort of right of passage, a coming of age ritual.
Spain. The first thing that comes to mind is beautiful sunny weather, bullfighting, late night partying, and great cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Sevilla. These are certainly lively and well-known places in Spain , however, much of what is Spanish life remains largely unknown to visitors. While this is a travel blog (sort of), I am not going to write about people, places and events that can be easily found in any reputable travel guide or blog, instead, I intend to focus on those aspects of life in Spain that have left an impression on me, and that may not be so well known to people who do not live here. All Rights Reserved.