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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

3 September 2017

Wolf and rain

And so it rained

And so it rained

27 August 2017

Ugh. 6:30am is an early start, but worth it for the chance of seeing wild wolves in Europe. We were guided by Wild Watching Spain, who specialise in wolf and bear watching trips. They know where more than one pack of wolves lives, and invariably they live deep in the mountains a long way from villages and roads – basically, as far away as they can get from humans. So we bumped down a stony track in a 4WD and then across a mountain stream, and then continued on foot for 40 minutes up a scrub-clad ridge until we stopped in a windy hollow looking out over a huge grey landscape. Our guide Maria directed us to scan a ridge half a kilometer away – although of course it was she who spotted the first wolf. We both managed to find it ourselves, using the spotting scope we borrowed for the trip, a tiny figure trotting through the scrub just below the ridge. Then the fat drops of rain that had been pattering on us for a few minutes picked up their pace to a steady pour and we scrambled to put our scopes and cameras away. Luckily we had a rain cover for the rucksack, and it covered everything. Unluckily only Maureen had been smart enough to bring a waterproof jacket.

And it rained

And it rained

So we all sat huddled against the chill rain, and I slowly got soaked right through to the skin. We waited for about five hours (maybe not, felt like it) before giving up on the weather and getting up for the trudge back down the mountain. I was shivering uncontrollably, which I took to be a really bad sign. But we made it down and once we were deposited back at our hotel a hot bath was very effective. My attempts at asking for somewhere warm to dry our clothes were less effective (a hotel where no-one speaks English? Really? Well, I did say wild mountains!) but I got there in the end.

What really revived me, though, was our leisurely Sunday lunch at a restaurant in the neighbouring village. This was really old-fashioned Spanish country cooking, done really well. Absolutely no acknowledgment of the huge wave of modern high-end cuisine that has launched Spain to the very top of the gastronomic charts in the last decade or so. Just incredibly yummy stuff like pimentos stuffed with morcilla and doused in a rich sauce, or pig cheeks slowly cooked until they fall apart. The house red was a brilliant earthy Rioja and so far as I can tell, everyone there knew everyone else.

Better yet, most of our clothes were just about dry when we went out again in the evening, to look for a different pack of wolves. The weather stayed dry (yay). The wolves never appeared (boo). Better luck with bears tomorrow!

Pig cheeks make it better

Pig cheeks make it better


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