The Coast of Death — August 23, 2017

In reality, I am writing this blog post in Santiago de Compostela, but the post is about the Costa de la Muerte or the Coast of Death which I visited yesterday. It has that name because of the many fishermen and sailors who lost their lives in the sea just off the coast. The sea was calm when I visited yesterday, but I am told it can get very rough.

This post is likely to  be a bit brief, because I catch a train to Madrid this morning, a seven-hour ride, but I will post a few of the many pictures I took.

The first photo is of what is purported to be the prow of a stone boat. When Saint James (Santiago) preached in Galicia, legend has it that he became depressed thinking that he had done a poor job. The Virgin appeared to him in a stone boat, told him he had done an excellent job, and added that it was time for him to go back to Rome. Unfortunately,  he took that advice, because in Rome he was beheaded. His body was later brought back to Galicia where it is said to rest beneath the Cathedral of Santiago, and prow of the stone boat was left here on the coast. It’s up to you to decide if you think that stone is really the prow of a boat.

Below are the rocks at Muxía where the final scene of the movie The Way was filmed. It’s the place where the pilgrim, Tom, scattered the ashes of his son in the sea.

The building below is the lighthouse at Finisterre, which means End of the World. The Romans named it when they arrived, because they believed that it really was the end of the world. Looking out at the horizon, where the sea meets the sky, it’s easy to convince yourself that the world really does fall off a cliff there.

Incidentally, this is claimed to be the first lighthouse in Spain that used electricity to power its light.

The waterfall pictured below is where the Ézaro River empties into the ocean. It is said to be the only river in Europe that enters the ocean by means of a waterfall. In reality, it doesn’t empty directly into the ocean; it is at the end of a small inlet that I image the river has carved out over the millennia.

Not all of the water goes over the falls. Much of it is diverted through several enormous pipes to a hydroelectric plant located behind the spot from which I shot this picture.

The structure shown below is an hórreo. You see hórreos all over Galicia in people’s back yards and beside the road, but none of the others I have seen are more than a fraction as large as this one. This is said to be the largest in Galicia, which means that it’s the largest in the world. Galicia is the only place where they were constructed.

Hórreos were once used to store the harvest. They have slots to let the air in but which are too small for birds to enter. They sit on pedestals to keep the contents off the damp ground. You will notice the disk at the top of each pillar. They were there to keep rodents from climbing the pillars to eat the food stored inside.

The reason this hórreo is immense compared to others is because this one did not belong to an individual family but to the local parish church. The agriculturists were obliged to contribute one tenth of their harvests to the local Catholic Church, so the Church needed a large place to store all of the booty.

Well, time to get packed and walk to the train station. For the first time, I will have to carry my luggage on my back. Until I arrived here in Santiago, my trusty Trek touring bike carried my pannier bags.