Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Day 21 - A Costa da Morte

Galego words: Costa – coast, Morte - death

Saturday was another day long excursion by bus. We left around 8:30 in the morning and headed toward the Costa da Morte (see map!). Our destinations included Muros, Carnota, Fisterra, Muxía, and Dombate, but we definitely made more than five stops!

In Muros, we stopped in and checked out one of the churches. And maybe it’s just me, but I feel that most of the churches around here pretty much look the same. There are some cool architectural features and lots of eerie statues and things, but each church is pretty much shaped the same way and those statues look an awful lot alike to me.

Our second destination was Carnota and here we saw a Galician cemetery. This may sound like a strange destination but I found it interesting because it cleared up some of the things that I didn’t understand about the abandoned cemetery turned into a park in Santiago. We also saw what is called a “hórreo,” or a Galego storage house for grain. These storage houses are built of granite and are elevated from the ground on legs which have a sort of circular plate on top of them. This is to prevent mice from entering the granary. The one that we stopped to visit in Carnota is apparently tied for the longest structure of its kind in Galicia. 

After this we headed to Fisterra which was known historically as the furthest point west in the known world before the European discovery of the Americas. It was interesting to imagine how it would have felt to be standing there and thinking that there was no land further west of this point. Looking around all you can see is ocean, but it must be quite different since now we know that there is something on the other side of that ocean.

In Muxía, we stopped and had lunch and even had a few minutes to dip our feet into the Atlantic Ocean. Now I can say that I have been in both sides of the Atlantic! We also went to the lighthouse and church that are located nearby. We were told to be extremely careful here since swimming in this section of the Costa da Morte is somewhat connected with how it got its name. Here we were able to take some nice group shots of the majority of the students in this year’s Curso de Veran, or summer course here in Galicia.

The last official stop on our tour was Dombate. It is here that there is an actual “dolmen” or burial chamber from the inhabitants of the area from over 6,000 years ago. There are actually two chambers at this location that are on display. One is a recreation, but the other is the actual burial chamber. It is covered by a modern building in order to protect it from further erosion, but it is still quite impressive.

 We did make one last stop after Dombate, and it was the stop I was most looking forward to. In Borneiro, only a couple of miles away, if that, we stopped to see the Castro de Borneiro. A castro is where pre-roman Galegos lived thousands of years ago. What remains are the bases of these homes and communities in the form of stone circles. The deepest structure at this location was maybe four feet tall, but you can still get the idea of the form of the house as well as the close proximity in which the community lived. It is unknown what the different uses of the buildings were, but it is believed that while they lived in some of them, they also housed their animals in others. It was fascinating to think about what it would have been like to live in Galicia at that time, but it is even more fascinating to see the remains of that society as you stand in the middle of it.

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