Jesus wasn’t terribly hard to find at all. I forgot that in the battle of the statues, a enormous Jesus would look down on everything from the top of the mountains overlooking the town, so we quickly won that game of hide and seek. Getting there was a little bit harder, but we packed up a picnic dinner and started hiking. On the way there we saw a herd of cats, and a man trying to herd them (almost) after a brief detour to marvel over their number (where I was remind of the botanical garden in Buenos Aires) we made it to the foothills of the mountain. Already the scenery had changed drastically. The houses looked like they could have been 30 miles away from town instead of a thirty minute walk. There were all sorts of animals in the pastures and old women eyed us from porches. The trail went along switchbacks until we came to a old stone church. While the inside was closed, the whole thing was beautiful and very old. The road became very steep but we trudged onwards, leaning into our steps, passing another old church and finally arriving at the “Shepherd’s Spring,” a little fresh water fountain tucked up in the woods. People apparently came here to fill up their water, and we followed suit, pouring out our town water and drinking the deliciously cold and sweet liquid. By the time we made it to the top the sun was just starting to go down, so we got a beautiful view over the whole valley. We sat and had our sandwiches and wine and watched the lights pop on all over the city. As we had a little photoshoot with JC, a thick fog crept over the hill, illuminated in thick patches by the floodlights. It was really only at this point that we realized it might be difficult to get home. Walking up had taken at least an hour, and there was no way we could get down that path in the dark. The road was longer and wound around a lot, but seemed like our best bet, so we set off this way towards town.
We were just commenting on the thickness of the fog and how dark the night was and starting to talk about spanish myths and ghost tales, when we hear a rather loud, rather aggressive, and rather nearby snarl. We stop short, Sarah clutching on to me. “What was that?”Neither of us had any idea. Nervous laughter. Listening. Sarah claims that there are bears in the area, but isn’t sure. We decide to just cut across a switchback, away from the direction of the noise. We start moving, and there is again, an angry sounding grunt/snarl/growl that sends us scrambling up the bank and over towards a set of street lights in the distance. A car comes up the road from town and we briefly consider trying to thumb a ride, but the couple in the car tell us they will be up at the top for a while and look like extra guests on this particular trip might be awkward. In a clearing we find a cop car parked in the shadows. Sarah goes up and asks about the animal, and if the road will be safe. They say it is probably a wild boar, and offer to give us a ride back down into town. We take it and are soon strapped into the uncomfortable molded plastic seats of a spanish police car, heading into the city. They were very friendly and tell us that yes, boar are dangerous, but they are also tasty. Oh good. We spend the rest of the night on the street of cider and wandering around various other bars looking for a place to dance. We aren’t very successful, only squeezing in a few dances, but it was a tremendously fun night.
My last day in Oviedo I wandered around and went busking for a while until an undercover cop came up to me angrily demanding to see my permit. I did what seems to be the best defense for angry anti-music police: pretend I can’t understand anything they are saying. “yo no from aqui” I say in my worst spanish accent “no comprender.” Immediately his tone changes and with his few words of english he tells me that, unfortunately I can’t play here, but if I go to the city office they will actually give me a permit. It’s free, and he even agrees to let me play a few more minutes before I go.
In the evening we meet up with one of Sarah’s co-worker/supervisors, who also happens to be a performance artist/experimental musician/conceptual artist who has some pieces at a show going on in town. It was a bit like stepping back to Bard, with concept art and all sorts of interesting and strange pieces by a whole range of artists. He gives us a full tour of the gallery and introduces us to the artists. Afterwards, he buys us both some drinks and tapas and invites us over to a table with the curator, as well as several “influential national and international artists” We talk about art, and literature and sword dancing, and I can feel my spanish continue to improve. We do a little more wandering and dance-seeking before going back home and to bed. Lots more statues too!
I spend the morning playing banjo in a nearby park where I make friends with all the old people who come to walk and sit. It felt a little bit like that improv game “Park Bench,” I had a constant stream of new characters coming, listening, and striking up conversations.
Aside from this taciturn fellow I met the following: The old man waiting for his chess partner, the young mother and her children out for a picnic, the tiny little woman in a huge red coat, hat and shoes sat next to me and hummed along, and the visiting portuguese man who taught me a song (that wasn’t really ideal for banjo, but he seemed pleased enough. It was finally time to leave, so I bought some food for the road and caught my bus, next stop Madrid!
Extra Bonus Spanish Travel Tip: If you are under 25 you can get a free ALSA (the biggest bus company) discount card if you fill out a little form. It doesn’t need to be your real information, but you get large 20%-50% savings! More money for tapas!