Torquemada – Stork’s Beaks & The Grand Inquisitor

Iggy the Hymer motorhome has moved one hour west of Salamanca, and is loitering 30 kilometres from the Portuguese border. Still on the Spanish side, in the little city of Ciudad Rodrigo, where I pause, and cast my mind back to Torquemada. ( N40.597928, W6.521452 )

The parking space in Ciudad Rodrigo.
Free parking in Ciudad Rodrigo. Found us another Hymer!

I am loitering too. Watching the breezy, black rain clouds and bright blue skies play chase, far, far above, while contemplating a couple of paracetomal and the fifteen minute walk into the centre.

This morning, I’d put my slightly wobbly legs down to me and Jay’s ten p.m. shennanigans, on the outdoor gym equipment, by the river in Salamanca last night. But as the day has worn on it’s become apparent that the cold that’s been harassing me since Sunday morning is having another wee bite at my body today.

Away darn cold! Away I say! But the cold it listens to me naught!

And so I turn my wandering attention back to the page before me. Resolved to catch up with the blog before we cross the border into Portugal. I push my delinquent thoughts back to Saturday morning as we awoke in Vitoria Gastiez.

It was tempting, so tempting, to stay another day and explore this wonderful place some more. But…but, I really wanted to finish working on the photos from Donostia, and then write up our day in Vitoria Gastiez as well. If we stayed another day, then even more things would keep happening that I would have to write about too!

What we really needed was a village. A quiet, peaceful little village. Somewhere an hour or so down the road towards Cadiz. Somewhere with a pretty church, a pleasant cafe in a shaded, sunny plaza. Somewhere just like…Torquemada!!

“Torquemada?” I hear you say. “Torquemada? Does that not seem a bit familiar for some reason..?”

Yes, yes, okay. You have me. So maybe Torquemada was, possibly, the most infamous of all the infamous Inquisitors of the, almost as infamous, Spanish Inquisition. And yes maybe Tomas de Torquemada, was, in fact, the very first Grand Inquisitor, in the first round of said infamous Inquisitions.

Hmmm… The village can’t be that interesting can it? Surely?

With only one way to find out, we firmly popped the coordinates for Torquemada into our trusty Co-Pilot, Caravan Europe satnav app, and set off for the birthplace of evil. Was it the town that made the Torquemada? Or was it just another, innocent victim, of his madness?

First impressions as we drove across the ancient, zig-zagging bridge into the village were good.

old bridge with church.
Coming into the village across the bridge.

Second impressions as we pulled into the generously sized spaces of the free, serviced Aire were excellent.

Third impressions – as we disembarked from our trusty, tardis like, motorhome and saw the pretty old church with Storks busily clattering their beaks on the roof – were that we’d landed lucky once again! This was a perfect, quiet, pretty spot to while away a warm day sipping cerveza and writing about travels in Spain. Perfecto!

Pretty old country church.
The old church next to the Aire. Gorgeous!

None of these impressions left us much as we wandered around the village. There isn’t a huge amount to see, but what there is was pretty enough to make it a nice place to be. There were a few 4×4 vehicles in a shiny row near a store. One of those off road adventure tours we thought.

Worn, old church door.
Give me some old buildings, and I’m always happy.

The river, the storks, the plaza, the churches. All lovely. But… What about the famous Tomas? To our huge surprise there was no attempt to cash in on the village’s connection to the Grand Inquisitor. We’d kind of expected some information plaques at least. A memorial statue about the Inquisitions maybe. But no. Nothing.

Large village church.
The main village church, complete with about a dozen storks.

A couple of hours of village and river bank walking, and a good bit of stork gazing later, we wound our way back towards Iggy. We were going to stop for a beer at one of the cafes, but every outside spot was taken by groups of outdoorsy looking men, so we just kept walking.

Bridge and river with water bird taking off.
Marley’s favourite bit – the river walk.

As we passed by we noticed more 4×4 vehicles parked along the road a bit. Then even more came driving up the road and turned towards where we’d seen the others earlier.

“There must be something going on.” says Jay.

“Definitely”. says I.

4x4 vehicles scattered around the road.
Is this normal?

As we rounded the corner towards the Aire we could hear loud music, and suddenly there were 4x4s everywhere!

4x4s all bunched around Iggy in the motorhome Aire. 4x4s lining every nook of every inch of the road. 4x4s covering the dry, dusty ground of the field just ahead. Clean, shiny, polished 4x4s. Dusty, mud encrusted 4x4s. Landrover, Jeep and dune buggy 4x4s.

Mud covered vehicles.
I don’t think that’s “Spray On”…

“Definitely something going on then.” says Jay.

“Nah.” says I.

As it turned out of course we’d found ourselves in the midst of the registration process for the annual, overnight 4×4 rally! All vehicles had to be registered and on there way to the track up in the hills by 6pm.

Fascinated we watched as the long queue of people waiting to register swiftly dwindled. The air echoed with revving engines, clouds of black smoke and a feeling of excitement, anticipation, nerves and resolve as long lines of 4x4s roared into life and out along the villages dusty streets. Wow! We weren’t expecting that one!

people queue outside a shed.
Queue for registration.

Figuring the tavernas would probably be quiet now we made the two minute walk back and settled ourselves outside with our obligatory beer and wine. It was time for that great Southern European tradition of watching the sun go down, and our spot facing the long, cobbled bridge was perfect.

I’d completely failed in my desire to find a quiet place with nothing happening, and catch up on the blog! We laughed about how interesting it was, and how much we liked the village, and got chatting to a local man called Angel who seemed to have fallen in love with Marley.

Marley sniffing at a curtained doorway in the street.
Marley had been looking for a villager to say Hi to!

Drinks consumed and sun just about done with setting, we tried to leave and go back to Iggy for dinner, and to get some writing done. But no! Angel kept asking please could we wait a minute. There was something happening that he wanted us to wait for. Unfortunately we couldn’t understand what he was trying to explain, but we stayed anyway.

Time passed and we had a fun time, chatting as well as we could with my small amount of Spanish, Angel’s smaller amount of English and the help of Google Translate.

After a couple more stalled decisions to leave, Angel’s friend Pedro, the barman/owner, came out with drinks for us all that Angel had ordered. This was why he’d been asking us to stay! He’d already ordered drinks for us!

Well of course we had those, and then we had to buy him one back and some tortilla to soak the drinks up with. And then it was coffee and a brandy to say goodnight time! Angel invited us out to his house the next day for dinner with his mum, but sadly we couldn’t go as we had already arranged to meet a friend who lived a couple of hour’s away.

Jay with Angel & Pedro.
Who needs words? Angel, Jay & Pedro. Lovely men!!

So we said a happy, slightly tipsy, farewell to our new friend Angel and headed back to Iggy. Blogs were not written. Photos were not edited. And before much time had passed the only sound was three sets of slow, quiet breathing and the rhythmic, rattling, clack, clack, clack of the Storks.

two Storks nesting on a rooftop.
The Storks of Torquemada.

Our questions about Torquemada were answered in full. Whatever darkness was in the man, it had not come from the village.

Fi. x

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