Hiking: A vocabulary lesson & an adventure
hacer senderismo = to go hiking ganado = cattle
sendero = trail ganar = to win
suelto = loose cancela = wrought-iron gate
cerrar = to close caza = game (as in, hunting)
coto = preserve descansadero = rest stop
…. the best part about half of this vocabulary is that I learned it AFTER we returned from the hike). Useful!
This past Friday Matt and I hopped a bus to Cazalla de la Sierras, 85km northeast of Sevilla. With a whopping population of 5,250, Lonely Planet Andalucia calls this tiny town the gateway for exploring the Parque Natural Sierra Norte. Several routes start from this town and circle around the area going through mountains, farmlands and other assorted natural wonders. We chose Las Laderas – a circular trail of approx 8km / 5mi. We arrived at 9:45 a.m., blinking in the bright sunshine, and the tourism office opened at 10 a.m. After picking up a (questionable) map, we headed out to the base of the town to start the hike.
This trail is listed as “9km, 3 hours”. Not sure if people are sprinting through the cortijos, but we started at 10:30 a.m. and finished at 2:30 p.m. (with minor detours and a rest stop). There were several questionable instances where we had no idea if we were on the trail or in a restricted area. Here is where the
vocabulary comes in handy! Matt is standing next to what appears to be a private gate that reads “Ganada suelto: cierren cancela .. Coto privado de caza.” Here’s what I tried to puzzle out: ganar is to win. cerrar (conj: cierren) is to close. cancelar is to cancel. privado is private. caza could be pueblo for casa (house). The only one I got right was “close.” AFTER we returned from the hike I looked it up, and what it really says is “Loose cattle: close the gate! Private game preserve.” Really?
After Matt talked me into crossing through the gates (rightfully) so, we scampered around with sheep in the extraordinarily quiet farmland. All you could hear was the sheep baa-ing, their bells clunking, and eventually the sound of the river nearby. We had both been craving some peace and nature after the riot that is Sevillano city life, and this was perfect.
Other run-ins included eagles, salamanders, frogs, butterflies … and wild pigs. At least, we thought they were wild pigs. In reality (now that I know what the sign says) – they are farm pigs. Let me just say that when they first crossed our path, I wasn’t thinking of farm pigs. My favorite ham is quite large in real life. The Iberian pigs are beasts, and of course Matt had to bring up Man vs. Wild and reference Bear Grylls wrestling one of them, and I stopped dead on the trail. First one pig, then two. Then five nestled in an open structure .. then another 10-12 down by the river taking a bath. Holy ham! We picked our way along behind the shed thing and gave the pork a wide berth. That’s enough interaction with nature for me, thanks.
The first half of the hike was a pleasant downhill trek, so of course
the second half was a long, slow-burn, gradual incline that left us
lamenting our lack of water. There was a moment of
indecision at the train tracks, because the gate in front didn’t look inviting (none of them do) and the sign posts were sketchy. Eventually we made our way out alive .. I have never been quite so happy to see a tiny white town sprawled out across the hillside.