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Mapping the Marquesa

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Offline Dave

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« on: April 25, 2009, 10:58 AM »
Another  adventure, this time accomplished using a local guide a four wheel drive and a GPS receiver. My Brother in Law Avelino´s job is to provide water supplies to villages, often these are quite remote, and having a four wheel drive is essential. Apparently Avelino had done some work for a village called Santa Catalina de Somozo, not far from the town of Astorga, about 25 miles from Leon. We set off early to meet up with a local historian and writer, Enrique Soto, who was to accompany us on the excursion. We arrived in Santa Catalina, and there I was introduced to the local mayor, Ramón Pérez, who was also to accompany us.
Apparently the aim of the trip was to map an area of land spread across a mountain side, and to note down GPS readings for the various reference points, my job, apparently was to take photos of the various GPS points, and to add audio notes to each photo, something which my camera is ideal for.
The Finca (an area of common ground) owned by 11 villages, is called the Finca of the Marquesa, situated on a group of mountains, the highest being 1700 metres in Altitude called the mountains of the Marquesa (the wife of a Marques, who is a titled local land owner), when I asked who the original Marquesa was nobody seemed to know. It was certainly a remote area, with dirt tracks and firebreaks, being the only roads, using the expertise of the local mayor, who used to take cattle up to graze the pastures when he was young, we navigated our way around this enormous piece of land. It was pointed out to me that the area was a very important type of land, ranging from Peat bogs to mixed forest, and finally Pine forest, a diverse and unique ecosystem, in that part of the world, the intention of the exercise in which I was participating was to clearly mark the area with the intention of protecting it from exploitation, and to allow it to be managed in such a way as to save it for future generations, something of which I was proud to be part of. As far as wildlife is concerned, there were plenty of signs, especially wild boar wallows and the occasional fleeting glimpse of deer, but the forest is so large and dense, we could have been within a couple of metres of anything, and not seen it, one fascinating thing were the wood ant nest, which were up to a metre tall and twice that across, sorry to say I could not resist disturbing one slightly to see thousand of ants pouring out of the breech, the birdsong was also impressive, but apart from a pair of buzzards, very little could be seen to be identified, we returned to Santa Catalina for lunch at one of the Albergues,over lunch we discussed lots of thing regarding the future of the finca, as well as listening to Enrique, telling us about the history of the area. Enrique had to leave after lunch to attend a meeting, but we returned to the finca to record a few more details, all in all a very satisfying day.
Before I leave this theme, Santa Catalina is a small village, but because it is on the pilgrim route to Santiago, it is very well maintained, with various restaurants and hostals for the pilgrims. The village itself is very pretty, with beautifully maintained houses, and plans to attract more tourists with a lake and picnic area, on which they have just started work. So Avelino and I left with bottles of home made wine and Chorizos and Salchichon (a cured pork sausage), presented to us by the Mayor.

Offline Clive

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« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2009, 20:07 PM »
Hi Dave, fascinating stuff and great, as you say, to be involved from the beginning...

So have the 11 villages all agreed on a plan at all? That would be amazing.....

Also interested in what the land is used for commercially... Are there working farms on it or forrestry? Is it aprivate hunting area?

Actually I have lots of questions so best if you just update this topic every time you get any more info.... :)
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