Position: 42°16’36.7″N 8°49’20.9″W
Carol’s dad, Bob, asked us if we were going to see anyone on our journey north to the Baltic? It was a reasonable question. Our contact list is, after all, long. We thought about it during our conversation, and no one immediately sprang to mind. Still, I filed the idea away knowing that a thought might be triggered. Two days later we each knew someone to visit in Galicia, northwest Spain.
My friend Bob and I met over eight years ago when I facilitated a management offsite at Stanford University. A college friend of my erstwhile Spearfish Innovation colleague Sue, Bob and I hit it off immediately. Back then he lived in Maryland, and when Carol and I were out boat hunting in Annapolis he invited us over for dinner. We didn’t know it at the time, but Bob was coming to the end of an unhappy period in his life. Socially, he was minimum Bob.
Fast forward eight years. Bob got divorced. He then met, fell in love with, and married a wonderful woman, Eva. Eva, among her many strengths, is a native of Galicia. While they live in Virginia full time, they recently bought a little house in the small village of O Hío, across the bay from Vigo. I learned they had put in a bid for it last year and wondered if they had closed the deal. After being inspired by Carol’s dad, I sent Bob an email with the title, ‘Coming to Vigo’. He wrote back immediately and said, “We’re here! Come visit! You’ll be our first guests.”
We had stopped in Vigo on our trip south to the Med, but failed to explore the surrounding bays and inlets. Turns out the raggedy coast in this part of Spain has innumerable coves and anchorages worthy of gunkholing. The rocky hills covered with trees makes it look for all the world like Maine, or parts of the San Juan Islands. We felt right at home. Cold currents sweep along the coast here. Hot summers heat up the land and draw in the Atlantic’s cold air, turning it into fog. During the summer months the fog is so predictable you might as well be in San Francisco complaining like Mark Twain. Crossing the wide estuary of the Ria de Vigo from Baiona was serene. A light wind pushed us gently north while wraiths of mist drifted across the water and enveloped the islands. It clung to the pines and hugged the shore, falling and lifting in twirls and pliés like a modern dancer.
Most of the bays around Galicia sit at the mouth of a river, or ria, that supports aquaculture. Nutrients flow downstream making filter feeders like oysters and mussels especially happy. Large, square floating platforms make up a great deal of the watery real estate in these parts. The platforms support long, narrow baskets of mussel larvae as they mature for 12 to 18 months. Mussels can draw in and expel eight litres of water an hour from the chilly currents. For context that’s slightly more in volume than the diesel Aleta consumes each hour while motoring, only it’s much better for the environment. Galicians really know how to prepare and eat mussels. Mussel harvesting begins in July (Poo! We arrived too early!) and continues until February the following year (Yay! We’ll get them on the way back!), when the next crop is seeded and set out on the platforms.
Bob and Eva’s house looks out over the Bahía de Aldán, which is full of shellfish farming platforms. I texted Bob when we entered the river so he could watch us come in. Then I forgot to mention that we had to launch our dinghy, Nell, (and clean the low idle jet on our Yamaha outboard’s carburetor) which always adds an hour’s delay to our coming ashore. He waited patiently for us at the quayside while we futzed about. Finally, we puttered the two hundred metres to the quay, tied up, and piled into his little car and headed uphill to the new house.
Their place is stunning. And palatial. Of course, we took no photos so you’ll have to take our word for it. Sitting halfway up a hill and a full five stories tall, each of the house’s picture windows artfully frames a different aspect of the surrounding landscape. One the harbour and village homes across the bay. Another, a clerestory window, catches the hilltop, pines and mists that swirl around it. With a half dozen views and landings to enjoy each from, you could spend weeks deciding where best to sit for inspiration.
Eva greeted us warmly and introduced us to her mother, Fita. While they prepared dinner, Bob gave us a tour of the house and grounds. They intend to rent it during the summer, the village being a popular spot. To do that means clearing everything out, then buying all new bedding and making sure that all the local regulations are being met. The first paying guests are due to arrive in August. Over a wonderful dinner of hake (for the ladies) and steak (for the boys) we talked about living with feet on two continents, and how life takes you on unexpected journeys.
Bob said if we’d asked him five years ago where he’d be today, the last place he thought he’d be was entertaining Carol and Mike with his new wife in their new house in Spain. The very last place. I have never seen him so happy. He is now maximum Bob. We should all be so fortunate. When we stop by in September we’ll take photos and share them with you.
Here is a link to Bob and Eva’s house. Rent it for a summer getaway with friends and family! https://galiciaholiday.com/properties/10-villa-o-hio-220-beachfront-in-cangas/