This past weekend had perfect weather. I think Spring is just over the horizon! People were out and about, and our street was filled with twice as many terrazas filled with people enjoying cañas and vermú. Jay and I spent the majority of our weekend with our friends we made through intercambios. On Sunday, they suggested we have a BBQ (yes, please), that changed to a picnic in the park, that changed to a picnic and hiking in a nearby pueblo, Trevijano. It was one of those days where I was so incredibly grateful to have Spanish friends. You can’t make it to Trevijano through public transportation. The road to get there is narrow, winding uphill, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the town’s population in the winter months totaled 75 people.
Once we arrived, we wandered around looking for a spot to have our picnic, greeting a few (literally, four total) of the town residents and horses roaming the streets freely. When we set up and began to serve the food, the horses walked right up to our table waiting for some! That made me really miss the ranch back home.
Apparently, a Spanish picnic is a little different than the basic ham and cheese sandwiches + potato chips I’d typically expect. We had huge portions of potato salad, baguettes, chicken fried steak (ish) meat, wine, peaches, and chocolate. We felt a little silly for bringing sliced raw carrots and ranch dressing as our contribution… but they seemed to appreciate our authentic Ranch dressing. It was a pretty perfect setting. I could have sat in the sun all day!
Soon we headed out into the country side to walk, and Juan brought along his stick (?) to practice his favorite hobby, salto del pastor. I had never heard of this sport before, as it is only typical in the Canary Islands. The stick you use looks almost identical to pole vaulting, but you grease it up with fat and use it to climb and slide down from rocky terrain. He told us the origin was from shepherds in the Canary Islands, who sometimes needed to fetch sheep who had wandered away from the flock into steep, rocky areas. It was interesting to watch and of course I took some photos. Jay and I tried it out from a height of about two feet, I didn’t exactly look smooth.
I loved exploring the quiet little town of Trevijano. I can’t imagine it filled with a lot of people, but we were told that a ton of people go there in the summer. Many people typically either have a small vacation house themselves for weekends, or their parents live in a nearby pueblo and the family will go visit. We packed up the car and drove towards another small town, Soto, and stopped at the Mirador del Cañon del Río Leza, an awesome looking view point to look over the canyon carved by the Leza River. Those cliffs are steep, careful if it’s windy! It has several look out points and hiking trails. That day made me think about how La Rioja is a great place to rent a car and go exploring, full of little gems that you won’t be able to discover by bus. You’ll drive right by. I hope we can find some more great spots this summer!