Thursday 17th December 2009
This morning Nucu took us on a tour of the village starting at the Bolera court established in the name of the town's local hero Rogelio Gonzales, the demon left handed bowler El Zurdo de Bielva. He was simply inimitable and not only won every competition but performed exhibition shots, such as taking a peseta off the top of a skittle from twenty metres away or back spinning to take out a row of pegs of your choice. His image is everywhere - a small bust overlooking the court, a badly painted picture staring down form us in Maria's bar and he even appears on the key ring which our house keys are on. Nucu became misty eyed as he recalled his childhood memories of El Zurdo.
On we went to the exquisite Romanesque church complete with a beautiful Belen (Spanish nativity scene) that is built up by the village over the weeks leading up to Christmas. The church is amazing with a gorgeous thirteenth century carved alter piece, intricate carvings and an eleventh century font. On we went to a second church at the edge of the village, but with incredible views down into the Nansa valley. The Cantabrian's have a long and proud history of resistance. The raging bandit Caracota stopped the Roman invasion in it's tracks, the Moors took one look at the mountain people and decided not to spread their Arabic culture further and at the end of the nineteenth century the French only got as far as the church door before the Bielvans turned them back. Nucu proudly shows us the scorch marks on the stone floor that mark the end of attempted occupation. We ended the tour at the cemetery where Nucu pointed out his parent's graves and the plot reserved for him.
'I've no intention of using it for a good while yet,' he says with a giggle 'we try and fight off most things that interrupt our way of life.'