Deshabitada

When we were mapping where next we’d go on our trip through Northern Spain, we noticed that a lot of towns in Huesca were marked as “deshabitada” or uninhabited.  So we kept our eyes open as we drove west towards Navarre, and pulled over when we saw what appeared to be a quaint hilltop town.  A sign read “Escó.”  We started walking up a dirt road and came upon a man herding about a hundred goats, who were roaming free through what we realized were the remains of buildings.  They bleated atop piles of broken stone bricks, and in broken Spanish, we approached the man and asked him if we could keep walking into the town.  The buildings were hollowed out, no floors, no ceilings, and most of the structures still standing looked like they could topple over if the wind was strong enough. The inside of the church at the top of the town I especially wanted to explore, but its roof seemed just too unstable, so I only crossed the threshold by a few steps to take a photo or two.  When I turned back around, I couldn’t find Phillip at all, and started to look for him, recognizing just how strange it was to be in this decrepit town.  I turned down another street, and heard a big, old-man sneeze.  Sufficiently freaked out, and skittering down the road to the base of the town, I found Phillip and we continued on our way.

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When we found an internet connection, we did some research on Escó, and found that there was a lot to know about this creepy little place.  At one time, Escó was booming agricultural town, but the creation of a dam on the nearby Aragon River caused much of the valley, where crops were grown, to flood, and its inhabitants were forced to leave. We also learned that only one family chose to remain in Escó, sheepherders, one of whom we think we met when we first arrived in town.  When we left, he and his sheep were no longer anywhere in sight.

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Torla

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Once we finally crossed the border into Spain, we noticed two things: the Spanish side of the Pirineos is just as beautiful as the French Pyrénées, and gasoline is about twenty cents less per litre than in France.  Welcomed into España with such good news, we got really excited about spending the next few days exploring Parque Nacional de Ordesa y Monte Perdido.

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Our destination for the night was the tiny town of Torla, deep in the Ordesa Valley.  We made a reservation at the refugio in town and explored while the sun set.  It was quiet and we saw only a few other travelers on the streets, so we tucked into our bunks, setting our alarms for a (relatively) early start the following day.

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We didn’t know if we’d be spending the night in the mountains or back in Torla, so we stopped by the supermercado to load up our packs with a variety of non-perishable snacks.

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I never thought I’d say that one of the best croissants I’ve ever eaten was in Spain, but qué sorpresa!  In the back of the supermercado they had racks of fresh bread and pastries that were being rolled out right as we were walking in.  When we first bit into these, they melted in our mouths and quickly gained us the attention of a friendly, but hungry admirer.

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We took one last moment to enjoy the warmth of a coffee before trekking into the mountains of Ordesa.