Friday 9.10.09 Arenas de Cabrales

Even before we unzipped our tent this morning the light melody of grazing cow bells punctuated with the intermittent snare of falling chestnuts had set the alpine tone of our surroundings.

Our campsite is in a grove of horse chestnut trees overlooking a short span of valley peppered with orange beech wood and gnarled altitude loving oaks. But it is the single blunt dome of limestone that dominates our view. Griffon vultures drift through the thickening air as midday approaches, without exception they are drawn like satellites to this imposing lunar peak. I count eighteen, though some are lost from sight down the back of the mountain, whilst others crick their wings and dive earth bound, their shadows throwing ghoulish shapes against the cliff face.
We watch and paint throughout the day and occasional village wanderers stoop to collect chestnuts from around our feet without the slightest interest in our work or attempts at small talk.

Cabeza Turruecu by Shenaz Khimji

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