For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Monday, 1 December 2008

Ruesta: The Deserted Village

Sweet, smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,/Thy sports are fled and all thy charms withdrawn;/Amidst thy bowers the tyrant's hand is seen,/And desolation saddens all thy green.../Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,/And the long grass o'ertops the mouldering wall;/And trembling, shrinking from the spoiler's hand,/Far, far away, thy children leave the land...
From The Deserted Village by OLIVER GOLDSMITH

Next day I took a delightful woodland path high along a crest to Ruesta. Some unfamiliar trees lined the narrow track. They were small, with grey, fissured trunks. Their falling, 3-lobed leaves were bright yellow and a deep fiery red. Later I identified them as Montpelier maples - trees native to Spain and the southern Mediterranean. It was nice to find some deciduous trees which weren't the ubiquitous oak, beech and chestnut I'd seen so far. And while we're talking of plants, I haven't yet mentioned wild flowers. Of course it wasn't really the time of year for these - but that morning I did spot autumn crocus, wild aster and merendera pyrenaica: a ground-level plant with purple, lanceolate petals and yellow anthers.

After 7 or 8 km I came to the hermitage of San Juan Bautista. It was half in ruins. Until the money could be found for the renovation, it had been imaginatively if unaesthetically protected from the elements by a steel barn:


Inside pilgrims had raised a makeshift stone altar topped with a simple but beautiful dried flower arrangement (difficult to appreciate from my photograph) ...


Soon I approached the abandoned village of Ruesta ...





The base of the church wall had been sprayed with scary graffiti ...



Apart from the albergue, Ruesta was deserted. Most of its buildings were in need of some tender, loving care ...


It was too early to stop here for the night, so I continued on my way down to the river and the campsite at the bottom of the valley. I wanted to refill my water bottles at the campsite but the water supply had been turned off. These were the views back towards Ruesta ...



1 comment:

Dominic Rivron said...

I wondered why Ruesta was deserted so I had a dig around. From what I found on the internet it seems it was abandoned because it (or perhaps the land around it?) was expected to flood as a result of a reservoir project (the damming of the Aragon you refer to, I presume). It also said somewhere that it had been leased to the Communist Party, who wanted to renovate it.

I've enjoyed reading these posts: it takes me back to wandering around Spain years ago.