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Editor'S Choice - 2020

A weekend without mobile in the town where Asturias ends

The town of Caleao where the road ends and some of the highest peaks of the Natural Park of Redes (Asturias) begin, is a great place to try to spend a weekend without a mobile. Not to turn it off for a little while: to give it up. The things you discover about yourself and the world end with surprise.

In Caleao the road ends. You can get there by car and by road, but to climb more you will have to pull powerful legs, like a cabaret, or a horse there, accustomed to sweating uphill. All that is above the village are the high mountain valleys, where cows graze, forests with beech and wolves and deer and wild boar and wild cats - all slippery, and do well - and stony and snowy peaks.

Asturias ends in Caleao, the world ends, the 21st century ends a little. It is not just another traditional town where livestock are still lived and there is a lady with a headscarf and a legend of a buried virgin and such. Here, the mountains are spent all winter pushing for nothing to change. The snow, the wolves, the sun of the peaks that itches and colors, the pastures and the slopes, act as guardians of the tradition, because to see who goes up there. They are the Heimdall of the Nordic legends, but in a place that has its own legends related to bear hunts and mayors who gained real privileges in manly sports of throwing bars. Normal, everyday things that can happen to you any day in Caleao.

Asturias ends in Caleao, the world ends, the 21st century ends a bit © José Díaz Martínez

The town has about 190 inhabitants, according to the mayor, Juan Ramón, who before being mayor was a welder and worked in Florida and in Canada and in more places since he longed for Caleao. Now, his workday starts up to a riding school where the horses he rents for excursions graze in a meadow like an amphitheater. The stands are an assortment of mountains as impressive as a brotherhood of giants that seem to look directly at you to challenge you. They say "come, scan me." And they say "watch out for me."

A town as small as Caleao has been done in a short time with four hotel establishments. I went there (more than five hours from Madrid) to meet the new hotel Tierra del Agua, which has been erected on a meeting of houses and stables of the town next to a mountain river. On his tired stones and wooden beams and wooden gutters, he has designed the most sensible architectural performance: a minimalist intervention that Above all it puts viewpoints (metaphoric or not) to what it has inside and around.

The hotel shares with other end-of-world hotels that I have known a sense of good taste from a very contemporary lineage. The project is made up of two partners, Jose Antonio (Asturian) and Fernando (Burgos) who were so arrogant with the people that they have decided to buy and rehabilitate some of their spaces and already have more than 50 small properties in the surroundings. It is one of those dreams shared and infected (for example to the spf51 study of Laura, Fernando's niece, in charge of the most imaginative part of the restoration). One that goes and materializes and joins the history of the town, leading to an impossible plot twist: from mountain shepherds, from isolated cowboys, to hospitable hosts who They invite you to sit in your seat if you show up at the door of your house offering to take a break (as is).

The Land of Water hotel © José Díaz Martínez

We have the people, we have the end of the world and we have plenty of cell phone. My 48 hours in the village have included a permanent airplane mode. Not out of necessity, because there was coverage. It has been a pure sociological experiment with surprising end. An experiment that I tried to extend to the group of friends traveling with me. Of course, the answer was a resounding NO. We will not turn off the phone for a second for you to do your stupid experiment. I do turn it off, at first with a little childish excitement at the beginning ("I'm going to turn off the phone!", "What's going to happen to me!") And the senses in supersense mode to attend to all the symptoms of this modern drama of running out of mobile, but self-evoked.


Pitu de Caleya and casín cheese fritters on the hotel menu. Can you imagine the Instagram photos of a chicken raised by pecking in a high mountain pen, with how healthy this air is? Can you get the idea of ​​the image of a man of the world that could tell the story of casin cattle, native cow-goats that climb the praus more remote and eat the flowers that only occur up there and produce a milk so fat that it results in a cheese so intense that it is said of it that "casin cheese every day and one cheese a year"? You get to the idea, don't you? Well, no. There is no Instagram, there is no Twitter and despite the reflex act of taking out the camera, I give up and I just eat it.

The pitu, the casín cheese, the salmantinas meats and the wines of all parts. When you take pictures of food, the first thing you miss, paradoxically, is to see it. Just look at it through the viewfinder of the camera and through the filters that will make your meatballs some meatballs hipsters. But you hardly see her. And you smell it a little less. As all these senses are part of the experience, they are the preliminaries of eating, it turns out that when you take pictures without just looking at everything, it enters your mouth without proper lubrication, a bit rough. And to all this, I swear, I found sense while I drank a drink of Zapatero cider, which I was looking for, for the first time in a cider, like biting an apple. Maybe because I was #sinfilters.

When you take pictures of food, you don't see it © José Díaz Martínez


Let's put figures on the hitch: two hours on Friday, three on Saturday and two on Sunday. That is the time that the damn smartphone would have cost me if I had not left it in that almost mystical state of peace in which you can make it enter and that responds to the high name of “airplane mode”. There are seven hours in total. Seven weekend hours that go nowhere. Seven horitas that you spend sharing photos in three very funny groups of guasap that you have. Or putting favs to languid photo tweets. Things all of them positive and that strengthen ties.

But it turns out that just those seven hours are the extra ones for a trip to pass the best things that happen on trips. Ask for a massage at the hotel spa, find a dance partner or call yes to the door of Consuelo, who invites you to some donuts made of oil at the stake that he prepares on the kitchen floor while he tells you that with his twin sister "we are more equal inside than outside". Or the opportunity to talk endlessly with Arcadio, check that he speaks an ancient and rich language, a Castilian Castilian very much from this valley, that of Caso, precisely because it is different from any other point in the valley. Arcadio points out the place where he took the cows to graze or the passage through which they brought the flour from the post war or the peak behind which is the town that wanted to steal a bear from those of Caleao, who recovered it because they They had kept their tongues after killing him.

And you follow the finger while pointing pastures and snows and Every story is like opening an application on the touch screen of life. No, seriously, you recover a good stretch of human contact and that makes you feel that this weekend you have done something really with your life and, if you are traveling and you find characters like these, you also feel that you are part of a human network in which you have something to receive and deliver and in which your mobile is only noise and pollution. And then you start to shuffle seriously if the next revolution will be atechnological, to kick screens, and if you couldn't start it on your own.

Talking with Arcadio is like opening an application on the touch screen of life © Rafael de Rojas


It was inevitable. Sunday comes, and a fleeting hangover that is removed with a donut joins the melancholy of the landscape, who has been warning you all morning that he will fire you orbayazos. You take a walk through the town to see if you can see the Arab castro that Arcadio told you about and suddenly you feel a pang of nostalgia. What your friends will be doing, there exiles inside the mobile, as if they were circuits and microchips and cables. You think for a while that when you leave the village and your experiment is over, you will find out what they have done this weekend, you will see their photos and their insistent messages of “where have you gotten”. Finish the slope and look up and there in front of you, the Natural Park of Redes, as beautiful as a fjord, with a cheese as personal and as high mountain as Gruyére's, but that here it is not valued the same (the cows are mainly dedicated to meat), with landscapes that open your pupils. And you wonder what people have done on Twitter this weekend? Monkey.


The struggle between the monkey and your new way of looking at the world without filters is surprisingly surprising, Caleao.It takes 150 kilometers to turn it on and when you do it grabs a mountain melancholy while you reply to the messages one by one and you are no longer at all in the world, because you share it with a screen. You conclude that you want to do it again. As soon as you can.

We do not want to deceive you: the monkey exists © José Díaz Martínez

Video: A Trip to the North of Spain - Asturias, Spain (April 2020).

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