Before I begin, a PSA: if you use the same password for both your Facebook and e-mail accounts, stop reading this right now and go change one of them.
Finished? Good. I’ll get on with the story. As we were touring towns in Cantabria with the rest of the Bolados, someone in Nigeria was hacking into my Facebook and Gmail accounts and sending all of my contacts an e-mail claiming that we were in Wales, had been robbed of everything, and could you please send us $2,500 to settle the hotel bill? Continue reading
Visiting Santander was always part of the plan, but when the Bolado reunion was set for July 10, we did a bit of rearranging in our schedule to make sure to be there for that. The event was a product of a Facebook group that started a few years ago; anyone named Bolado was invited to join. The greatest concentration was in Santander, which is where the name originates. My parents visited a few of the members last year, and they all hatched a plan to have as many Bolados as possible come to Santander in 2010.
While everyone was enthusiastic about it, turnout wasn’t great; the economic downturn kept lots of people from traveling. Only four of us traveled from outside of Spain: the three of us from the U.S. and one other Bolado from Mexico (he’s the very tall guy in back). Continue reading
As we were driving to the coast from the mountains, my aunt Lourdes was making her way by train from Madrid. We met in Puente Arce, a suburb just outside of Santander, where the three of us would be staying with Belén and Lee, two local tour guides who were also organizing the Bolado reunion that weekend. (More on that later.) Continue reading
We were expected in Santander, so we had to bid the gorgeous Picos goodbye. The trip from Potes to Santander isn’t far, but we took our time and made a few stops along the way. First up: the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, a few kilometers outside of Potes.
The monastery is home to the largest piece of the True Cross. That sounded cool, but unfortunately, when we stopped by, the chapel in which the relics were housed was locked, so we couldn’t get a glimpse up close. I imagine it was because Mass was about to start. Continue reading
July 7, 8:20 p.m. Ten minutes until kickoff of the Spain-Germany World Cup semifinal game. Nathan and I are in Potes, Cantabria, on the edge of the Picos de Europa, sitting in a restaurant downstairs from the pensión where we’re staying. Said restaurant has set up the biggest screen in town to watch the game.
Suddenly, Nathan turns to me. “I forgot my shirt.”
He is wearing a plain gray T-shirt, not the green FIFA World Cup T-shirt that he’d bought in Johannesburg. He wore it first in Mondoñedo, when Spain beat Honduras, and for each Spain match since then.
“Just wear this one,” I say.
“But Spain hasn’t lost when I’ve worn the shirt.”
“OK. Go get it. Hurry.”
He returns before kickoff with the shirt. Spain, needless to say, wins, 1-0, and advances to the World Cup final.
The Picos de Europa are spectacular. The Cantabrian range is lush and green, but in this small, concentrated area, gray craggy peaks shoot straight up into the sky.
Though we didn’t have time for a long trek, we did manage to spend a few hours hiking around the mountains on our first full day in Potes. Continue reading
After bidding everyone farewell, we headed off into the mountains. Destination: Potes, a small town in the Picos de Europa, the tallest peaks in the Cantabrian range in northern Spain.
We took the scenic route there, which meant lots of harrowing two-lane roads that hugged the sides of rocky mountains. Continue reading