Monday, October 24, 2011

A few days off: The land of Z, X and Q

This last jaunt across Spain involved driving through yet another striking landscape to add to the mountains, hillsides, beaches, rivers, desert, plains, ravines and cities that we had crammed into the preceding few days.

The route from La Rioja took us through the Navarra region, whose wines are in fierce competition with those of La Rioja. We stopped off in the town of Estella where they had a splendid market and then on to Pamplona where they had a supermarket from which, inappropriately, we bought a rather good selection of Rioja wines and some extremely competitively priced diesel.

The motorway from Pamplona goes up a hill about 40km long. At some point they decided they could not be bothered to keep climbing and dug a tunnel. At the other end of the tunnel the road goes down another 20km of hill.

We are back in Basque country where it seems compulsory for every placename to include at least one Z, X or Q and sometimes all of them. We stopped at a small town with a name too complex to pronounce and had a beer. I went to buy a stamp so Tricia could send a postcard home to the grandkids. Having completed my task I return to the bar bearing the necessary postage whereupon Tricia points out that she has a postcard for each of them (duh!) so I had to go back and buy another stamp. Is there no end to this excitement?

On the road into this town was a small wood yard. There were several men and women working there as we drove in, but they had left when we stopped to take the pictures on the way out.  

Closer inspection showed that this outbreak of entrepreneurial activity was not in fact a wood yard in the regular sense but appeared to be a permanent feature of a layby.

They took delivery of trees and converted them into posts, splinters and sawdust.

The splinters are the bits left over from sharpening the posts.

There are a lot of very sharp posts,

and a lot of splinters.

The trees that are no good for post making...

..are chunked, presumably for firewood.

Like all good work places they have a tea 'hut'.

It is full of splinters which I suppose they use to boil the water. No point in wasting good splinters.

There is also something that looks like it is for cooking but with no sign of cooking, or splinters.

It’s funny to think that these people spend their working lives there and we are never likely to go there again, ever...

And so we cross the little bumby hills that mark the northern end of the Pyrenees and slide back into France. They don't notice us arrive and we don't notice that we have left Spain - all vey Schengen, tres europeen.

Verdict: ZXQ

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