As I stood frozen on the spot, I was very glad that I understand some Spanish. It did not help calm down the barking German Shepherd dog that had me bailed up on the mountain trail. It did help me understand its owner when he finally appeared around the bend, telling me ”do nothing, do nothing, stand still and do nothing”. I did nothing.
When the owner sauntered past with the playful puppy, telling me it was all OK, the temptation was very high to do something. Something like swear profusely. Must have been the adrenalin - I would never swear profusely.
I have made it to the small town of Benasque, nestled in a valley at the base of the Spanish Pyrenees mountains, not far from the border with France. It’s one of those picture books towns full of cobble-stoned streets, beautiful old buildings and an icy-looking river. Benasque is both a hiking and mountain-biking mecca in summer and a base for skiers in winter. It is always fun to turn up to a new town and find a fiesta in progress, with a band, free wine, ham, bread and complete with a puppet show for the children.
My first day’s hiking included getting harassed by three dogs, slipping on wet rocks, soaking my shoes in an unexpected puddle and getting a bit lost but I only had to look up at the incredible views to remind myself that I am in the Pyrenees and I am not a princess. I may, however, have sworn once or twice.
I almost didn’t get here. After locking myself in the musty stairwell of the Barcelona apartment, as I was leaving to catch the bus, things were not looking good. With no phone reception, no keys, no neighbours home and one hour of sitting in the dark, a passing real estate agent came to the rescue. I may have sworn more than once or twice at my own stupidity.
But I did get here and will continue to soak up this lovely town and its crisp, clear mountain air with delight.