By the Eastern Ribagorza
Of all the Aragonese zones that of one or the other way lead until the Pyrenean one, it is the which had most unknown Eastern Ribagorza, mainly, to that at the end of his valleys there are no great tracks of ski or places where to practice the high mountain. Through its highways — regular of firm and little of amount, they only pass the Madrilenian skiers who, of despendolado way, come near in their cars last models towards Baqueira, or, bordering the Noguera, the Catalans that Benasque and its valleys accede towards. The pueblicos and their people look imperturbable at these city planners who, hastily, go towards a certain place not knowing the rest through where they happen. A weekend does not give for more and is necessary to take advantage of it until its last minute.
And if not known this zone for those “made an effort” tourist from the “anorak” last model is, also from stranger it is, and more shamefaced way, for the majority of the people who from the valley of the Ebro — the geographic and economic center of Aragon goes towards high earth in search of summery excursions, ecology or vacation. The level Earth people prefer, and know better, other Pyrenean latitudes. For this reason, today, in these lines I would like to approximate to the knowledge of some beautiful and simple places, barely stained by tourists and that keeps in their heart and, in its people, comparable a human and landscaping quality to the one of any corner of our earth, or perhaps better.
In order to initiate the route it is necessary to arrive until Graus. Coming from Huesca you have happened first through the capital of the Somontano and, if you have time, it is good that you leave the variant that surrounds it and you go into in her. Barbastro is not a city of great monuments or wonderful places, but altogether an amiable city turns out to take a walk by its Boulevard — there is or a transition towards the peninsular east or by those narrow or porticadas streets that recalls some old commercial glories when that region was total of inhabitants and activity. If you speak with the people of this city, each will want to teach the corner to you that near its ideology is more. I would recommend to you that of this earth you made a good wine shipment of the Cooperative of the Somontano or the Lalane brand. They are smooth wines, distant to the shattering “Aragonese degree” and excellent for, sometimes, throwing a drink to you to coleto accompanying chireta — if it is that you find them, or to reempujar towards the bottom of the stomach the good longaniza of Graus.
Back from the highway, soon you descend towards the Cinca by local the 138 and by a few kilometers you follow the river by its right margin until to about eight or ten kilometers the highway cross a river by an enormous bridge and rickety leaving to the right border a winding highway that would take to you, to follow it until Aínsa by the port of the Pine and which, if at some time of your life you do not have anything better than to do, to follow it is an unforgettable experience approximating to you to as interesting places as Naval, whose popular ceramics is from a magnificent sobriety and its invoice, still today, he is excellent.
Crossing the river — of wide, stony and riotous channel at times of swelling you run into front with the small town of Stay, that attacked in smooth hills of its backs brings back to consciousness to you more towards other places to the east as they are Estadilla, Fonz or further on Binéfar and Monzón, earth whose backs turn green again and grow thanks to waters of the channel of Aragon and Catalonia that takes its raw materials, indeed, of this river. As they also take it, damming waters continuously, the power stations that they feed from here the industry on Monsoon, now so doubtfully profitable for its inhabitants.
And to the bottom, as telluric symbol of territories of the Sobrarbe, the beautiful and impressive mass of the Mountain Rock and, in front of her, as arrogantly brazen, the silhouette of the church of Torreciudad, religious tourist emporium and architectonic mess of the Opus, getting up for greater glory of don Josemaría, its natural founder and of these earth.
The sobradero of waters of the marsh of Barasona drops those of the Esera among these strong walls opening them to tip. To the entrance of this congosto, and as watchman of these routes, Olvena it watches you. If this way the beams in hard winter, the ice, as Christmas cellophanes, will lower by rocks until you are contiguous them of the highway and the mouths of the successive tunnels will be decorated by the “plovers” pines, that the water forms when freezing. In spring this one will strike to you continuously and it will be to you difficult to avoid it. By all the places there are leaks. In summer, high and clean the sky that you will see through algid frightening rocks, will surprise to you if, stopping to you in half of the tunnels, you show to the sobraderos and listening at heart the waters descending to be united with those of the Cinca.
Behind the last tunnel — “flooded field, Aragon left”, according to an anonymous and radical painting, you will occur of blow with the marsh of Barasona or Joaquín Costa, enormous water extension dedicated to the memory of the immortal grausino that, by cabezonería altoa- ragonesa, raised, of always, what the waters of the north of my earth would have to enrich the level one. Today, that this exposition is less clear, we are not going to enter, in controversy, because Jánovas, to the bottom of the Sobrarbe, is another flag to rise next to Field.
The view of the marsh is reassuring and from the tourist point of view everything is charming. In summer Catalan families goes with their motor or candle boats of to rest in their borders. In winter the static waters produce such amount of fog that the highway is quite dangerous and the humidity degree of the region has been increased of a brutal way. If to it you add that the tail of the marsh falls on the first houses of Graus, parking all the dirt suspended in its borders and that the benefit of waters in anything favors to the town, you will understand that, when somebody goes by those regions with empantanadora mentality, the people look it with sorrow, and now already with certain rage.
Graus is a place to pause, to cross it and to chat with its people, to eat its longaniza and to establish controversy with the group that does a monthly one denominated the “Ribagorzano”. Monthly that, taking the head from the old grausino newspaper has produced an extraordinary phenomenon: A cultural association in that participate to Ribagorza and Sobrarbe people of sent a day to revitalize an organ of diffusion that raised, at local and soon regional level, the problems and subjects that to these earth worried and worry. Soon, the diffusion was enormous and fleeing from a possible grausino centralism, the group decided to realise the monthly Writing Council in each one of the places where there was a member of the association. The phenomenon has been extraordinary, since all take control shared in common of all and all, in a zone of difficult communication, end up including and understanding to the people of the other surroundings. Of fabla to Catalan ribagorza- no, of the Castilian to benasqués; all become a collective language that serves to unite, does not stop to differentiate.
Leaving local the 138, that until Veins that are going to be bordering the Esera, and taking a local one that amorra to the Isabena, right to the border of the Lleida inn — a good place to take authorized personnels or to rest, if the hours are of it, soon you will discover one of those places that barely are indicated in the guides: A beautiful bridge of seven eyes that, from Capella, united to the two borders of the river. Stop and you raise to you until the curved pineapple of the bridge and from the stop you will see, to the bottom, an enormous mass of rock, the Turbón that will be, with the Montañanesa in the Sobrarbe, that stone God that in each bend of the way will come to you to salute with the same sobriety that does it the people of this way.
Little more ahead the highway returns to the left border of the Isabena to come near to the localities of Leguarres and Lascuarre.
— By that highway — they indicate one to you that leaving Leguarres is lost to the bottom by hills of a mountain range goes away to Benabarre. or became it Piniés.
— The same one. That way they are its properties.
And they indicate to you towards the south. Little more above, while to your right it imprisons the mountain range to you of San Marcos, you return to cross the river and you commit to you by a quiet region and empty, in which, of time in time, isolated small villages of enormous dimensions appear. One of them, the Colomina, keeps, a back-to-back to its Eastern part, small Romance chapel of a moving simplicity. In the blessed water battery a Latin inscription remembers that a son of the house of Cuara, in Hopper — town near Benabarre-, gave it.
It is good by these you are contiguous to speak with the people of the surroundings. To listen to them in its language, its accent and to see that species of depressive bitterness that hardly can be taken of their expressions. Everything sinks despaciosamente, because it is very difficult to maintain, with the present economic structures, the old places inhabited in times by gentlemen and enormous crowds of servers. Today the tractor, parked to the entrance, replaces manpower farmer, but it cannot avoid the solitude of the contour.
When you continue raising guas of the Isabena towards the north and sights for the last time towards the Colomina you see the North wall — the one that receives the cold and winds frozen collapsed and in the head repeats the phrases of the woman who, with a bitter irony, has smiled to you distantly to your questions:
— If we knew to make another thing, we would not be here. But we do not know more than this.
And it indicated the surroundings, the animal of the corral and the river to you humbrío to the bottom of the landscape. Any more
Stem of Isabena
If you arrive at right Stem in a day of property when the Catalan tourists have still not removed their cameras to photograph and you are able, in the silence of its surroundings, to listen to the stopped air of the time in that impressive monument that is the town and the SEO, you will possibly be happy by some tenth of second, so difficult ones for reaching in this life. Because Stem has something so beautiful in its own surroundings that, before crossing the gangway of the church, it agrees to cross it slightly, listening to the whisper of the women who, to carasol of the winter, repajolean among them with that language so his that starts of the Catalan and the own Latin, to adopt personal characteristics as calling to the food “emta”, directly of the Latin, or “she files gives” the limits, also of the old language of the Graco. But really you want to arrive at the bottom of this place, its mysteries, to I gossip wonderful and to move away to you of the presumptuous manual of art, asks for the priest, asks to him that it teaches it to you, who caresses it to you. And that priest — Lemi- lullaby, Francisco, of vindication and rage white hair, excited, Aragonese, will offer one to you of the visions more substantial than you can have of something as impressive as they are these old and monumental stones of Stem.
It is almost just as, as they say the manuals, which it happens is that these cannot place the light where today enters the sun and only the voice of our guide is able to make see very small corners you, as that ajimezada window of Mozarabic rest by these andurriales, while insists to you that certainly “already it had here
a Roman defense, being placed in a great tower of about forty-two meters of height to defend the valley of the Isabena”.
To cross the porch and to enter the interior are a simple act, but inside all the mixed sobriety arises to you from the Romanesque one with a rosaceous color that the stone sifts the possible hardness of some so sober lines.
— Home in the 956. In the 1017 a deep restoration is realised. Meticulously we cross the part superior and then, as secretudamente, it tells the legend, or history us, of some enormous chains hung on a door of means arc point referred to prisoners of Moors, there for the years in which the Spaniards we sailed hard by the Mediterranean.
In the crypt it is the tomb of San Valero. We somewhat looked all astonished and it adds us that also she was the one of San Ramón de Barbastro here until they lowered it to his place of residence.
While we continued crossing the different parts from the church, mosén Miñana socarradamente speaks ironically of the architect restorer to us and it feels annoying to have to undergo the orders of a technician who, at heart, does not know the true structure of the church. This priest, that spends hours and hours crossing the walls, stone to stone, has such knowledge of true structure that history and the men have been creating among the walls of this wonderful set, that to hear as the pontifica architect restorer envelope they, puts it nervous and if it were not by that vote of obedience that all bricklayer accepts — this parish priest works of bricklayer without pay for the people of the town certainly but in one go he would have commanded to do puñetas certain things that have been made there, as, for example, the cement confusion that has completely covered the old structure of the watchtower.
Before leaving the church to happen to the cloister, one pauses and it says to us:
— It would be tuna that each 29 of January from Zaragoza ones which they have by landlord to San Valero came here from pilgrimage. It would be a beautiful way which the people of the valley knew these earth and, in addition, could be a good day to interchange ideas and culture.
— If the Stem were in First Division, certainly they moved up to here without problems. But to come from pilgrimage in January, nor to think it.
— In those days always it does good.
— The same gives. In this country still nobody is able to deliver an attack by the culture of collective way.
To enter the cloister of Stem, by the unusual thing, is exciting. There, while the sun of the first hours in the afternoon illuminates the Eastern part of the arcades, the voice of the parish priest acquires some touching tones.
— This it is the richest cloister of the world in funeral inscriptions of the centuries xn, xrn and xiv. They only wrote the day, the month, the name and the office. And these paintings — it adds opening us the small back-to-back clan to the cloister are of the teacher of Tahull.
To look at them long short while and to verify that you are before the work of an anonymous genius by the force of its expressivity, the emotion of its gestures and the enormous wisdom to develop the subject that somebody had to indicate to him, are something that arrives to you very intuitively by very far which you walk of wise bibliographies. There, in that one fresh air there are so many centuries of culture that one remains short while and short while without moving, analyzing it thoroughly, until the last details. And when you return to the cloister and parsimoniously you advance next to the priest, while the sun suavísimo tempers the atmosphere of a dry and cold January, the head fills to you of histories, images, ghosts learned in years of reading and conversations.
At the rear of the cloister, just towards the North slope, an enormous press of 1874, remains outdoors and the rage of the priest still becomes conceited more:
— A cover could have been risen to shelter it of the wind, the snow and rain. But no, it has been left there, immediately, and within some years habra rotted and will disappear.
And it is right, because this beautiful object, useful in a time, today appears almost as the sculptural work of a contemporary artist who considered the use of matters without falsifying and occupying spaces and to shelter emptiness in his surroundings. If somebody that reads this must be able so that humble cover rises that sheltered that impressive arm of the press, I believe that the future generations would be thankful for their characteristic to him.
In front of the press the base of the tower, reconstructed of the way most robust and less artistic than could be conceived. Raised the encementado porch that hides the rest of the base, the panorama is impressive: Down, cracking earth, opening them wide, the Isabena. And towards east another step, Coll de Vent.
— One strains the cold tramontana and ice cream maker there.
Towards the south the mountain ranges are scanned that close the way of the river and that this one has gone, year after year, and century after century, opening to tip until ending at waters of the Esera.
In front of the base of the tower a beautiful house, in restoration, by root and drawing up is raised now Romanesque.
— We are recovering it to some people of Madrid.
—Why it works of bricklayer?
— When I came here raises to me if it would have to resign pays of cures and to gain the life to me with another office, or to practice that office, of gratuitous way for all the people who needed it, and to live with the parish priest wage. After thinking it a little, I decided to remain with the pay of cures and to work free for all. Fodder that in this way I am more useful.
And it continues to us explaining how the majority of the inhabitants of Stem is in Barcelona and that, of time in time, meet there to celebrate traditional celebrations of the town.
— In summer this is another thing.
Before leaving the town it introduces to us again in the church and, after explaining the double head to us of the ashlar masonry of the choir,
artilu- rises until the body — precious gio- and begins to make sound the different tones that are able to leave by the zinc tubes. In the surprised air of the church there is a contained emotion that, sometimes, puts the tense skin to you.
— Here they have given concerts sometimes. A time ago she was González Uriol and also the parish priest of Omen. They know It?
We affirm with a gesture and we left towards the street, towards the irregular place and sober that now — close of the four in the afternoon there is lost the social gathering of the people majors and its silence crosses walls and windows. Still taking advantage of last rays sun, we sat down in the perron. With the view put in the facades, many of them closed to lime and song, we chatted of the people, the names, the offices.
— The houses are called by the traditional office that their owners in relation to the abbey practiced. They are the house I macerate, the one of the maces, or the house Tixidor, the tejador. And thus the rest. The most current last names of this zone are Naval, Dancing, Noguero, Lasheras and mine, Lemiñana — it remains thinking and it concludes: Yes, they are but the current ones.
—It will be possible to be eaten this way?
— But, not yet you have eaten?
We shrink of shoulders and he, looks for by the doors which seems that it is the one who is used to sheltering the “travellers”. One has left to Graus.
Trying that does not worry, we took leave. A little arrives more, in the Puebla de Roda, we pause. We enter a bar restaurant next to the highway and without no surprise they welcome us to eat.
—What they would like?
— The one that they have.
— Some eggs and longaniza and a salad.
— Also. Wonderful.
And there, while of the spit, located to the bottom of the cook-hungry, nas begins to leave the flavorful smoke the longanizas ribagorza-, the broth — a soup done with the strict flavors of vegetables serranas- is to us warming up the body and a well-being sensation surrounds to us. The bread bursts in the yolks of eggs into a smooth combat between the palate and the empty stomach.
Way of Bonansa
Of gotten late we left the Puebla and we followed towards the north. The highway and the river return to intercross. To our left, the Morrón de Güel and the Chordal, a mountain range and a tip, accompany to us and in short whiles they restrict to us against the river. Serraduy and Bernauy are in the left margin of the river while to the bottom, towards the north, an enormous wall the same announces congosto and the defile to us — that in other Pyrenean valleys that the Isabena has been opening between the rock and that, during years, prevented the one that the people across had an access more normal towards Graus having to give an enormous return by Castejón de Sos. In 1976 a communication channel by this defile is opened — of the Croquette and perhaps, from that moment, Obarra was transformed into a tourist nucleus losing the enchantment of its true meaning: To mark you are contiguous them of the olive tree and the high Earth.
The surroundings of Obarra are impressive: By the north, the enormous stone strong wall that defends it of frozen winds. By the east and the west, the same strong wall is deflated until ending at smoother mountain ranges. And by the south it is air, the horizon, the panoramic one, the wheat and the commerce. And in center of this surroundings, the monastery. But today, to approach is something really dissapointing, from the passage of the river that becomes by a pastiche of horrifying bridge, until the own building of the church, along with the buildings raised for tourist operation, everything is false and, sometimes, of an evil amazing taste. Nothing than is there deserves much the pain; thank heavens that the interior of the church is amazingly beautiful. The problem is to find to the people who keep the keys, to convince them that they approach the monastery and that they open to you. All this is too much made an effort. The reason is that one surroundings are a private property and, as always, you stick them are majors that the supports. It agrees, to understand the inner landscape of the monastery, as I indicate in the bibliography, to take under the arm a good consultation realised to the book
“The birth of the Romanesque Art in Aragon” published by the CAI, and in its pages 87, 88, 89, to be soaked of history, origin and evolution of these stones. In summer, the arrival of Catalan youthful campings gives an aspect him quite different from the one from other times of the year. Anyway, I insist, is necessary to cross these earth at those times at which the city planners practice sports other people's to the humble tourism or they get ready in the football grounds to shout against the turf which is.
Then, already of enormous gotten late, we crossed the Straits of the Croquette and while the sun reddens the sky by the south, the highway initiates the ascent through a small port. It arrives, when we arrived at the most high, we pause to contemplate what then it is producing the uncertain light of the last moments of the day: striking the reddened panorama on the white spots of snow crowded to a side and another one of the landscape, the beauty reaches limitless levels. Of suddenly, the night falls on the contour and all the vision collapses. With the night already entered we arrived Bonansa — land of Maurín- and the enormous structures that form the houses, astonishes to you. Several dogs mastiffs of the Pyrenean one bark violently until the owners command to them to be silent.
To that hour in which the sky finishes succumbing to the night it turns out complicated to arrive at a unknown town. The people, who behind the work day walk sheltering themselves in their houses, distrust of just arrived and somebody hardly responds to which questions. And while you go from a house to another one you discover the tablet located in the facade in which was born Maurín and that remembers its memory as illustrious son of these earth. Not why my arrival that day and to those hours to Bonansa located me near the literary landscape that Kafka reconstructs in his novel “the castle”. Perhaps the last light of the port, the resistance with the shades, the stopped air, the lights so expre- very Zionist located in the little angles of the houses, would influence in me until by a corner the voice friend of a friend removed me from the fiction and it returned me to the reality: Bonansa, 60 inhabitants, about 10 or 12 young people. And while we entered its house he continues explaining its town and its contour to me, until on the following day we take leave to entered Graus another night.
Marcelino — that is the name of my friend takes until its house pacificando the playful intention to us of the enormous mastiffs.
— All the houses are enormous, because here the equine cattle, that was the main wealth of these zones, did not practice after humancia. It remained with the people all the year. The moments of maximum economic splendor were the years of the war of the fourteen. By the border steps a constant contraband became. When I finish the war, all the economy sank. Maurín, that was son of a good house, had to emigrate by the accumulated hunger between the walls of the enormous big rambling house. And as him, other many. Soon one went varying towards other types of cattle, and today bovine and the bristle is the sources of wealth of this way.
This long conversation happens while it is showing his house to us. Just it is reformed, with heating of firewood.
— There are grandmothers of the town who take advantage of the visit to go ai toilet and to piss “calenticas”. I believe that with time they are going away it to put all the people. She is expensive of installation, but cheap of maintenance. And, in addition, that to live here, we are to 1,200 meters of altitude, already is hard of in case, as increasing the difficulties.
We cross the small village and it shows the old rooms to us that now remain closed — “they were of the servers; there were many servers” — and enormous the low ones who, in times, lodged the enormous mass of equine cattle. Back from the living room, in the sound equipment puts a smooth music and while his wife — of level earth, of Zuera, and secretary of the City council of Pont de Suert- walks azacanada with the children and some fellow traveller him help to prepare the equipment of dinner, the conversation continues:
— All this territory was simpre a natural region in which no, instead of separating, it united. Jaime II I realise the hereditary division, but the people of, who spoke and we spoke the same language that the people of the other border, followed here without yes finding out until the autonomy that is broken the natural region. Dust has done us. The head is Pont de Suert. My daughter goes there to the school. She does not have problems. But the problem will arise the day that it must make the second degree of EGB or
the BUP. He will have to go to Graus and what now they are ten minutes, then one will become complete trimesters far from the family, and I, that I underwent the boarding schools, do not want that experience my children pass it. The autonomies would not have to break bureaucratic what the nature unites.
And Marcelino puts an accent of rage in his affirmations, because he does not play the silly thing of “anti”, but is in favor of the useful thing. He is a born fighter — therefore he was me in the “Mafia” of the ski that now, mainly, is put completely in its region, its agriculture and its cattle ranch.
In the table, an exquisite plate makes us absorb the fingers to us.
—What is this?
— Stew of wild boar with chocolate.
A special flavor both opposes between ingredients were this demanding plate a delicate and excellent point for “gourmandes”.
And already on the table, we spoke of daily celebrations, of typical plates, of you dance and dressed.
— There is no typical dress this way. From Banasque to Tahull typical suits do not exist. And the dance of by these sites is the “bal pía”. She touches herself with accordion and the women dance in a side and the men in another one. They occur the return. She is dances slow and, perhaps, a little monotonous, but of a rare beauty.
We repeat all the wild boar with excellently stewed chocolate and continued speaking of meals.
— For the weddings and the burials the crispillos were prepared. And the great celebration of the town towards for is sheared. Now the one that is celebrated by all the stop is the one of San Sebastian or Santa Coloma. It comes from the old tradition that arose when a plague devastated these places. Nobody could bury its relatives and I am created the brotherhood. Now, already without plagues, we make the celebrations the day pass the accounts, the expenses, dead ios been and tins. All the town is cofrade, since it is born until it dies.
The day of the accounts a great celebration of prior is prepared at home. In times the men went only. Now the sixty inhabitants: boys, shakos, women and men. Chireta eats…
—What are chireta?
— It is a typical plate of Sobrarbe and the Ribagorza. It is as a rice blood sausage, but without blood and one mixes with this one the slight ones of the lamb.
— And frechinats and schools with bucket sardines, just as as the crumbs marinated with the grapes for Septembers eat there.
We are calamocando ourselves smoothly with those low Earth wines that, raised these latitudes say the tradition, although science denies it, that raise of degree.
Another tradition of by these earth is to remove Passover. An act to eat eggs. Each could eat so many eggs as Domingo de Resurrección would be able. In other towns of this way eggs were offered they to the priest…
— Yellow would be put.
— And a little would take off the hunger that then nested in all the guts.
After dinner we sat down in the comfortable armchairs located around a low table and took coffee and liquors.
— Memory — it commented that some ago years some French; Spanish scholars and friendly, told me that one of the things that had more impressed them of the houses Spanish farmers was the nonexistence of comfortable armchairs. Everything was, therefore they explained it, air lines. Me allegro of which suddenly your house is of another way.
— Until which remains it all the Small farm loan bank — Marcelino speaks ironically while his wife moves the head affirmatively. Because this way the only resource is agriculture and the cattle ranch. There is no tourism.
— The tourism is in two very characteristic valleys: Benasque and Arán. This way it happens, and as the highway is so bad, Sundays the children feel in the parapets to see the faces that put the esplendolados drivers of BMW last models. They come from Goes queira, that, by the way, no longer is cattle ranch. The grass we took advantage of them and tarización of the farmers and cattle dealers has been taken place a terrible process of prole-. If a day the tourism does “crac”, these people would pass hunger.
Then, while the night is become more and more old, we spoke of other things of our earth, because they, although talking of Catalan the Eastern one feel like Aragoneses until the bottom, or until a crazy policy of the General Delegation of Aragon makes them cabrear itself and to be united to the niñatos of Saint they toren that, inhabitants of Barcelona, demand the catalanidad of these places. And Marcelino moves the head from a side to another one as meaning that those are posturitas that to anything lead. And we return to speak of the “gorzano Riba-”, that monthly newspaper that it has changed to them by root and it has transformed them shared in common into a movement of defense of his earth, surroundings, landscapes and celebrations. They do not want, in any side, to die before the terrible avalanche of the technology. Also we spoke to that hour that already the sorceresses retire to their turns, of that ribagorzana zone that crosses the highway that unites the National 230 with Local the 139 and which, in the road maps, it appears with numeration 144. It happens through Laspaules, Coll de Fadas and ends at Castejón de Sos. He is one of the most beautiful pieces of this surroundings.
— A day we will cross it.
And in a ethylic co-fraternisation we are going away to sleep.
Towards the river
The morning appears magnificent and the phantasmagoric rest at night previous disappear totally. The air is cold, but of a moving purity. One is happy and during the breakfast we return to recall and to confirm many of the discussed ideas the previous night. Then, dismissing us of the woman and the children, we return to the highway. We are crossed with cars last models registered in Barcelona and Madrid. They cross this beautiful landscape urging on to its cars as trying to flee from the solitude of these places and to arrive soon at the urban turnpikes. Because it is necessary the typical insensibility of the present city planner it are not paused and to see, from the Aragonese slope, the beautiful landscapes and puebli- cos hung men by the Catalan side.
After to ascend awhile and to see the bottom the highest tips of the Maladeta, the highway will cross-sectionally prevail among mounts and — strange Pyrenean system to happen from a river basin to another one from the rivers to the bulks, begins to descend towards the river Would be worth. It is a torrentera river, that is born in the South slope of the Maladeta and that about 500 meters beyond the crossroads, ends at the Noguera Ribagorzana. To the bottom of the valley, and hung in the walls covered with meadows, this Castamés with the castle of Valcabra picked up in more the pine of the landscape and that, in times, was the feudal gentlemen of this way. Alongside straight of the highway, some great lands preparations for summery camping malhumoran again to Marcelino:
— It does not have right to do that — the camping indicates kill for a tourism of little time the possibilities of some rich and fertile grass. A law would have to arise that prohibited everything what the tourism meant of attack against the natural life of valleys. If instead of raise the camping here, they had made it in those other meadows located next to the town and of smaller cattle possibilities, nothing would be lost the tourism and the cattle ranch would have gained much.
Finally we ended at the river. Now the limits between Aragon and Catalonia will be confused and the highway will be intercrossed by the different ones you are contiguous. Now we walked by the Catalan zone and, to the other side of the valley, in the Aragonese zone, the “radicals” have placed an enormous regional flag to mark the differences. And crossing the bridge on the Noguera, the posters walk with the same disagreement that the declarations that, of time in time, stick Mr. Barrera next to the fielato autonomies that they advocate, who to the universalism to that our own roots lead to us.
The first that astonishes you when crossing this valley is the water nonexistence in the river. All the has been lead through inner channels, until the power plants that, by the way, always are alongside Catalan and that are they who collect the tax of eradication of companies.
—But didn't this become at the time of the Francoism?
—And make didn't it a national company?
— Yes. And it can give to a good idea of as always the Catalan active forces you bet by its earth, while the Aragoneses and oscenses mainly, remained in the most beautiful place of the stupidity.
— And now, all the fault of the neighbors.
— He is outrageous.
The Noguera Ribagorzana does not exist. Thousands of million have turned aside the river to be taken advantage of electrically. And Pont de Suert, old pueblín with a leg in Aragon and the rest in Catalonia, totally became by the end of the fifty and the sixty. Barely porches in the old part and the church of that zone are some that remember what was. It arrives, next to the highway, the evil pro-Franco taste remains on more typical granite-like structures of the mountain range of Gredos that of the Pyrenean one. Today Pont is an urban nucleus of enormous importance that also sees how the domingueros tourists happen of length towards summits or the daily works.
To cross the old part of Pont is worth the trouble, because it becomes to find one with the urban nucleus that, during centuries, had of being the crossing site for the people of the contours that went of a side to the other of the river, and not of border rays. That street indicated above remembers safe to the many retailers and shepherds, to the cattle dealers and farmers who, sheltered under the ice porches, rains and suns, would offer to the people of the region the interchange of their products. Lowering towards the river, the streets perhaps have all an enchantment handicapped by the own degradation that the abandonment of that zone is putting under them. On the bridge sights to the bottom of the channel and you only see degraded waters, descoloridas stones and silence.
— Ecologically this must of being a disaster.
— Enormous. It has destroyed the rest of kitchen gardens. There are no kitchen gardens and the hygienic infrastructure problems are serious. In the other border of the river — today already Catalan a label that Aragon street says remembers the old history of this zone. Regiramos and we raised again towards the facist and degrading pastiche that means the central surroundings of Pont.
And again towards the south, of a highway of drawing up modern and smooth that, sometimes, finds new marshes, as the one of Climbs, in which the Aragonese border catalano- is in favor in center of the same. And again, again the Straits, and to the other side a tiny and beautiful locality: Sopeira (under the stone). And, indeed, to its backs, as a great solar screen, an enormous and impressive rocky terrain. Towards the south, from here, the olive tree. Upwards, after the defile, the grass. The Moors beyond that enormous strong wall never had to raise.
From the highway to the dam we descend by the perfectly well-taken care of streets and that, to that hour of the noon, are full of amiable countrymen who in their speech chat on the time while they look to us at great length. And, smoothly, between the olive trees that border the prey — “this one is of the type that would be due this way to have done, does not kill anything and the people do not have to leave” — and the small plots we arrived until the Monastery raised in honor of Santa María de Alaon. It is a sober and very beautiful building that remembers from Lombardy structures. The place is magnificent and we cross it by all the angles. To the other side of the river, and raised a pending rustic pineapple and, a hermitage is descried.
— There the friars would have to flee when the Moors came. Again we are ascending towards the highway, this time in company of a dog she-wolf that has been united to our retinue. In a hill a series of strange structures is seen, that we do not know very well what they are.
— Beehives. They are cylindrical beehives, of which they are used this way. Hazel twigs of cow take control of dung and. They are of cylindrical form and the bees soon mount inside all the structure of honeycombs. When they have made the honey, to remove it is necessary it to destroy them completely. Much more made an effort, for all, bees including, that the present ones. Before raising the car we chatted with the people who walk by the neighborhoods. Marcelino greets them and between all a good mess with the agricultural taxes is organized that, at those moments, walk algid between the personnel. The dog is wanted to come with us. Forcing it, we left it on the road and, when we initiated the march, during a good stretch, it persecutes to us. At the end of some curved we see it lose itself. To all we have left a small anxiety and during a good short while nobody speech, until of blow, fair to the border of Arén, where the general is necessary there to let it to take the deflection towards this town, the landscape is opened heated by red the most alive one of clays. Estreme- is cedor and before arriving at the town deserts to see the panorama, that it is beautiful and exciting.
Crossed the houses new and impersonal of Arén and arrived at the old district, the sensation to see agonize to a giant, it surrounds to you: place porticada, buildings sumptuous, now closed, walls cracked, castle of eight hundred already almost imperceptible and soon tone of walls, from walls, air entrecogido of windows and of grates, you returns to confirm in that idea first, because everything is over the present reality, of the silence that surrounds the air, of the acansinado tone that discourages, of some way, to the inhabitants of this beautiful town.
While we eat — the sun comes from the bottom by a cristalera filled with flowers we spoke with people of Arén on the reality of the town.
— It is a society of pensioners. Most of the children are outside. Here they are the grandparents. If they raise to them the retirement — hara speaks ironically the life of this more lively town. Soon they tell the origin us of the wealth of the town, of that precious porticada place that, with a little spirit could get to have almost, almost, the beauty which today they have known to find the people of Ainsa. They tell us that it was the vine, until it appeared the highway and then wealth became the young of the pollino.
In front of us it walks eating a very young pair. They are of the commune. They come this way and, taking advantage of the empty towns, they establish a small commune. Most famous is the one of Cornudella, formed by Basoues and German. At the outset, the Germans lowered to the bare source, until the little inhabitants decided to raise the roof and they forced to them to walk a little more dressed.
They tell me mainly that, in some zones, the “repopulation” of new people is being so important, in the Catalan part, who already have asked for the mail and a teacher. People look them with affection. They do not put with anybody and they live on its work, of works craftsmen who realise and who soon or export to Barcelona, or they sell it by the small markets of the contour.
When we left the restaurant, the town is full of originating smoke of a communal furnace, that in today has inaugurated this same afternoon. It smells of wood and he is nice be in the place, next to the church, calmly inhaling the scent to holm oak and pine.
— The dance of the Stem is not almost another folklore that danced veintirés of May. Only were taken men of the hand. They gave returns, as in a sardana, but without looking themselves nothing like her. Time completes it that danced it mounted it, does about three years, the people majors of the town and music recorded it a son of Plow that it lives in Barcelona.
It appears the bus of line and I pay attention to the directional indicative: Arén, Lérida.
—And to go to Huesca?
— In that one until Lérida and then, with another one, of the same company, until Huesca. Soon they say that the “fish is expensive”. What it is strange to us is that has fished. And, mainly if you add to some gentleman or masterful lady who strikes his students to speak in Catalan, which he is what their parents speak and have spoken always. We are here by inertia or for want of value.
— You do not exaggerate.
— I do not exaggerate.
The line bus leaves the place noisily and we, behind him, followed the route towards the south.
To about twelve kilometers of Arén a deflection is taken towards the right, barely indicated and, by a track of dust and stone, picking up you by the border of an impoverished and stingy precipice, you end at the end of the track before an unusual vision: Montañana.
This old fortified city is completely empty which it enters under a defensive arc and that, through empty streets, you discover little by little, as good and excellent plates.
The houses are beautiful. Two precipices divide to the small village and, in one of them, but the Eastern one, the houses are ascending until the church and the impressive rest of a circular tower, now started off by half and led the bottom of the precipice. In front of that enormous rest, a church of the thirteen puts a note of unusual beauty. Because the porch — left to the air and rains it is of a so calm beauty that one would spend time seeing it with the thoroughness that is deserved. And again, by the small corridor, to the taken apart tower, to see the bottom of the precipice, also occupied by a perfectly delimited hermitage in the Romanesque one. From the stop, just as in Stem, the panorama is enormous: so many kilometers of perspective are seen that you understand the which serious location of this steep place, until, little by little, the new forms of life were disusing the strategic nature of the monitoring and, while the people lowered to the border of the Noguera Ribagorzana founding that new denominated town the Bridge of Montañana, the last gentlemen certainly abandoned the ship, as always, before it founders, leaving this beautiful enclave to the total ruin of the time.
Now, in summer, the old inhabitants return to spend their collective vacation with other countrymen. It turns out funny to enter by the streets of a left Montañana and to see, in the walls, the announcing posters of the celebrations of the last month of August and still, in a small chapel located in the town, can turns the rest of to have used that one as the collective bar.
It is getting late when we returned to the car and we saluted to a greater marriage, only inhabitants of the place. They tell to something more envelope us which was and the reasons for which it stopped being. They work down, in the Bridge, but they prefer to come to sleep and to live here.
— We have passed all our life and we want here to follow here.
Back from the general highway the night lies down to us above and until Graus, by Benabarre we are going away to find with all the turistada
Catalan that returns, to zacanada, the Barcelonian group by fear to remain single.
The highway is winding and aberrant. A day the Catalan Autonomous Government will be satiated with which their “boys” pass these calamities and certainly will become one that pass only by Catalan limits leaving Benabarre separated from the tourist currents. In Huesca that takes it to joke. In Huesca almost all they take it to joke and to thus it has gone them throughout history; but we hope that a day something changes that it makes change the enranciadas structures of these Aragonese bureaucrats high.
Benabarre and Graus
Full stop on this route, or perhaps the starting point, that depend on the way, the desire and humor, is these two old and beautiful ribagorzanas ladies, who one of another one, but not far separated in, sometimes, enormous distances of unbearable highways and I interest opposed, move away of considerable way.
Benabarre occupies, from last times, an important place as enclave of communications. Proof of this is that this town of intrincate streets remembers more to a strength than to a town opened to its own fields and places. The route that now obligatorily follows the Catalan tourists who ascend until the valley of Arán is the traditional one, and its point of encounter and separation is indeed this locality born on the feet of its castle.
This town to that I arrived years ago to sing indeed in the patio of its schools, in days that the clear things did not walk nothing and whose streets I crossed with the necessary privacy that their arcs and corners solicit, also underwent the wraths of that one enemy of Aragon that were Felipe II and what neither Christian Moors could do nor, from the old “Ibn-Awar” to Jaime II, obtained it the citizen stranger of the court “from Lisbon”.
It is a place to take a walk, but also to visit, because houses as those of them Scale, Arostegui and Cambra are not far from negligible. By its streets an intense flavor to Catalonia is chewed and perhaps it is a very subjective observation, but whenever I have walked by his streets, that sensation I have noticed it with a force totally not known in Fraga or the Bunk. That way the things are clear: a thing is the language and another one the nation. This way never I have seen that difference totally clarified. I do not know either if that sensation will have changed now that the people of all the ribagorzana redolada feel shared in common some of others and are conscious that the chestnuts the extraction each of their own fire, because nobody is going to come to help you.
Near Benabarre it is Hopper, that in addition to having of cures to a son of “the Colomina” — the one whom I donate the blessed water battery, as the town consists writing counts with a beautiful Romance church of the twelve and rest of fortifications that continue comfirmando the character of communicational knot of this zone. Of these conserved ruins the best one is those of Falces, raised by order of Ramiro I the Monk.
And Graus, with its fluvial borders crossed by the Esera and the Isabena, with its Sanctuary of the Rock raised to the air, sheltered against the rocky terrain, beautifully opened to the air with its arches and from whose rows of balconies one of the most beautiful perspective of this so beautiful place is descried. And down, by its streets, to walk in the smooth silence of any day of the week, seeing that amplest perspective of semiplace that in torrents descends until the highway or to enter the old quarters by anyone of its old arcs and to pause a good short while in the contemplation of the houses, eaves, until being surprised by the simple and perfect structure of the place of Spain.
But also it is the myth of Coast here, with his figure and its motto of School and pantry. And the friendly, warm people who do many years already took to that slaughter restaurant, where you can be given good “a fartada one” of roasts to the live coal, excelling, over all, the longanizas. And also here, already years ago, we listened to the “Albadas for the first time” and speak of the Aragonese bagpipe, that was the symbol of the celebrations majors until the point that the whole town went to receive to the pipers that lowered of high valleys of the Esera and the Cinca. And soon to see, in September, you dance them, as the one of tapes, the one of the carnastico, the one of frames and the one of culebretas. All it takes to you to encounter again to you with a culture that, without being closed to civilizadores winds, has known to keep with enormous depth the tradition. And there they are the Bigheaded Giants and, in the mythical figure of the “Furtaperas”, condemned by the kings of the “Mogiganga” to remain tied to a column of the City council, thus paying his fault of to have robbed ten pears and salary it are disobedient. And the “Mogiganga”, unusual spectacle, grotesque carnival and accusing ironizante of burlesque judgments.
It is not rare, by all this, that Graus, that conserves a language characteristic of its zone and that feels proud of its cultural commitment with History, has sent again the adventure of already indicated “the Ribagorzano”, that if is somewhat reiterative my insistence, the reason is in that I believe that if of some way these earth do not end up dying of abandonment, as very next others, will be thanks to as important collective acts as this one. To cross the Ribagorza now is to pass through a small full country of life and hope. And that is much in the days of deterioration and of crisis.