Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Day 3 Onward to Espolla

Today we left Gariguella and made our way towards the village of Espolla. We were excited because this is supposed to be the last rainy day of the week. As we headed out the ground was really muddy in places but the horses seemed used to the rough terrain. We did a lot more trotting and galloping today because our trail was longer. The horses were all very well behaved as we galloped in a line through the hills. We had to cross a few rivers where the guide told us there were normally only streams. At one point we had to cross a river that came up to my feet and the guide told us that where we were crossing was normally a street! We crossed over a huge stone bridge and headed through the small town of Rabós before going back into the hills. As we cam to the top of a mountain the village of Espolla came into view a couple of miles away. Fields and fields of vineyards led to a beautiful stone church at the edge of the town. We rode through the narrow streets of the town to the outskirts where the horses were staying. They showed us to the old town castle, which had been converted into a bed and breakfast, where we would be staying. When we walked in the place was very dark. The room Frankie and I were are staying in is small but very nice. We enjoyed a lunch of carrot soup, bread with salsa (which was more similar to hummus with tomatoes and almonds), tortilla and of course wine and cava. Buffalo (our trip assistant) and the owner of the Castle Espolla spoke in Catalan confusing everyone. The owner explained it as a  mix of spanish, latin, french and italian. After lunch we went to explore the town. There didn’t seem to be many people around. We stopped by the church and found a small playground, after a few minutes though we realized it was an exercise park for adults. Frankie ran around testing the different equipment in the outdoor gym. We wondered around for a little while more then headed back to the castle to get a tour by the owner. The owner told us that the Castle Espolla  got its name because one day when soldiers were walking by they saw a nest on top of the castle. The commander ordered one of the soldiers to go to the roof and find out what it was. When he got to the top he yelled down to the other soldiers saying “Es Polla” meaning its a chicken. The castle’s crest has a castle-top with a chicken over it. He also told us that the castle was built in the 1300’s and showed us the old fashioned parts of the place. He showed us where they used to make the wine and olive oil. Today he still makes home made olive oil in the castle. He also makes hand made soap with the left overs from the oil. With his profits he buys clothes and other necessities for the people of the Dominican Republic. Inside one of the rooms there was a mini-museum filled with old fashioned tools, candles, wine holders, and grape pickers. After the tour we walked to the local bar/cafe for dinner. For dinner we had salad, fries, lima beans, chicken and bread. They brought us a bottle of the local wine that had been made from the grapes we had passed on our ride into the town. While we were eating a women at the table next to us heard our “american english” and came over to introduce herself. She was british and her husband was originally from Wisconsin and used to work for the american government.  She told us about living in many places including egypt and they had ended up settling in southern France. They had come over for the evening to enjoy a catalan meal. By the time we finished dinner and got back it was after 10:00 and we were exhausted. 

Crossing a river that is normally a road

Entering the village of Rabós

Espolla comes into view

Riding through Espolla

Church in Espolla

Frankie testing out the outdoor gym

Old tools in the Castle

Spanish view

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