This past weekend my hosts Fatima and Ainhoa brought me to Cuero; it is a small pueblo outside of Oviedo where Fati grew up. I’m not sure of the exact ratio between km and mile, but after experiencing a Spanish highway, I am sure that I will never drive while in Europe. The pueblo lies in the shadow of Peñaflor, a hulking inverted cliff that intimidatingly leans over the prado. Cuero is the type of town where everyone knows everyone, with a single centered bar/restaurant/convenience store/post office. The houses lining the cliff are colored in shades of blue, yellow, and white, with thick stone bases. The unpaved roads are lined by orange and lemon trees and at times occupied by mules, horses, goats, and cows freely roaming the territory. The air smells of eucalyptus due to a large grove of trees to the north.
In Cuero I met the abuelos, a well-traveled pair that settled in Asturias 36 years ago after doing a tour of Europe. We went to the childhood home of Fati where her parents reside for bonding time and family talk of politics, the state of social security, and why I shouldn’t go to Morocco (advice which I have chosen to neglect). We also partook in the region’s drink of choice, sidra, a hard cider poured at an arm’s length above your head for the purpose of oxidation. My continual attempts to pour it myself mean that my shoes ooze a persistent smell of sidra. After being poured, the sidra is to be taken at once, and then toss the dregs. My host grandma speaks with a thick Portuguese accent, though I saw qualities reminiscent of my own in her features and interests (cats, meatballs, etc., but less bowling). Grandpa led the way, hand-carved cane in hand, to the heights behind Cuero. The peak offers an amazing view of the Asturian countryside and of the snow capped mountains that mark the region’s borders. The paths behind the town lead to the community centers of the past, the lavadoras filled with fresh spring water where clothes were washed and the wooden sheds for storing firewood.