THE BEAUTY OF BEING ALONE IN SPAIN
By PATRICK WALLER, The Spanish Thyme Traveller
I am alone.
The only sounds are the gurgling of the river and the occasional birdsong from nearby bushes and trees. The river here is in deep shade and is almost dark green in colour. This contrasts starkly with the intense summer sunlight flooding the surrounding pastures where cows graze nonchalantly. The leafy verdant trees lining the riverbank on both sides of the river form a shady tunnel over the slow moving mass of water.
The gurgling river
The cold clear green water ripples around my thighs (and sometimes up to my waist) as I move slowly through deeper parts of the river. It refreshes and cools through my chest waders on this hot summer’s day. It is even a bit cold and I feel grateful for having put on my fleece.
I am not really alone as my oldest son is 150 metres upstream round a large bend, but I can’t see him. I know he’s there, concentrating and oblivious of the world outside of the river as he casts his fly onto the mirror-like surface. I can even picture the expression on his face, his brow furrowed in concentration.
Later we stop, chat, swap the experiences of the morning and have our sandwich but right now we’re fishing.
Sunlight and shade
As my fly hits the water a fish rises and takes it. That rush of excitement as the line tenses is quickly quashed as I realise the trout has escaped.
As I console myself with the beauty of the moment and the place I feel something brush past my legs in the river. It is almost like a small shove. My brain reacts with a small alarm signal “What can that be? And so large?”.
It crosses my mind that it must be a current or several fish passing close by. I flick my fly across the river to a dark pool where it sits provocatively on the surface and wait a second with bated breath.
Just as I am back-lifting to cast again I feel the previous sensation next to my legs. This time it definitely feels like something large swimming by. My heartbeats increase as I realise that this is not a fish. It is something bigger. A fleeting moment of primal fear flashes through me. What the….?
Just at that moment the “thing” breaks through the surface of the water right next to me and I cannot believe my eyes as all my fear subsides and excitement takes over … for it is no huge fish or strange creature. It is an otter; dark brown and shiny. It dives under water again and then reappears turning and looking at me momentarily straight in the eye. It dives underwater and shoots off upstream at high speed towards my son. I shout to my son and say, “Have a look at what’s coming your way!”
His private concentration broken, he shouts back, “What is it? A big fish?”
”You’ll see!” I answer.
Moments later he exclaims excitedly,” I can’t believe it! It’s an otter!”
I smile to myself.
That clear but green transparency
After a short while the silence returns, only broken by the slow gurgling of this beautiful Galician river. I know from the silence that my son has returned to focus on the river, his fly and his cast.
I am alone again.
About the Author
Patrick Waller is co-owner of The Spanish Thyme Traveller – a boutique travel company specialising in Spanish holidays with a distinctive, personal touch and true passion for all things Spanish