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Journey to the centre of Paradise

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A meeting at the Tambre Hydroelectric Power Station

They always met in the first week of September. They had started to do so in 1897. In the early years it was not easy. Julio had more free time. He had not lost his creative genius, but he was no longer in the limelight and could work and live more quietly. Antonio presented the greatest difficulties. At that time he was in his prime. He had commissions all over Spain for which he had to travel reluctantly. But the biggest problem was that he was very meticulous. His work was complex, difficult to finish. Julio always reproached him: “You have to work it out, Antonio. If I were like you, I wouldn’t even have finished my first novel. “You’re right, Julio. But I’m not like that. I don’t have your spark. After all, I’m inspired by the growth of plants, and that’s always slow”.

Julio passed away at the beginning of the 20th century. Antonio survived him by more than 20 years. He never got used to meeting a ghost, but it was impossible to resist a good conversation with his French friend.

In 1926, a tram crossed Antonio’s path. They could now meet as equals. And now it was easier for them to meet. For years they met in different places, but in the end they always ended up meeting in a fixed place.

“That boy is undoubtedly your best disciple, Antonio. “I wouldn’t call him a disciple, he has his own ideas. His work is less vegetal, more rocky. They call him a historicist. “Magnificent.” “Indeed he is.

The disciple was another Antonio, in this case with the surname Palacios. And the place chosen for the meetings was one of his most recent Galician works: the Tambre Hydroelectric Power Station, which our friends called “the industrial cathedral of Galicia”.

This beautiful collection of modernist buildings was isolated in the middle of a forest of oak, laurel and willow trees. Communications to get there were poor. The hydroelectric complex also contained the remains of an old fishery. Hence the name of the hotel establishment that the ghosts enjoyed: Hotel de Naturaleza “Pesquería del Tambre”. There they spent hours sitting on a terrace next to the river. They adored that tranquillity. Antonio was also fascinated by the explosion of vegetation that surrounded them. He thought that if he had been the architect, he would have become engrossed in that green company; but Palacios designed the power station in his most stony style, somewhere between a warrior’s castle and a fairytale castle.

Julio particularly enjoyed walking around the site. Lamprey was not his thing, but he liked to visit the remains of the fishery. Or he liked to go to the Nimo devesa. He also had fun going over the suspension bridge. “Here Noia, here Outes. Here Outes, here Noia”, he used to exclaim as he crossed it at a speed that caused more than a slight swaying. Antonio, much less adventurous, suffered accompanying his daring friend, but on the whole the week’s stay was very pleasant for both of them. They ate well, rested well, and drank coffee or tea by the river, which was almost a lake in this place. Everything was as quiet as possible, with no interference from the outside world. Very calmly. The rest of the visitors hardly noticed the pair of venerable old men in curious costumes. Nobody caused any disturbance. Many people were taking photos, some were asking about the possibility of opening a museum with all the old pieces of the power station, others were hiking or gliding down to the Tambre estuary. Our protagonists sometimes accompanied them, as they took special delight in passing through the arches of Pontenafonso.

“This is paradise, Antonio”. “So write a story. And give it a title in your style: Journey to the centre of paradise. What do you think?”. “Well, I don’t rule it out, but don’t rush.”

“You’re getting lazy, Julio.” “Look who’s talking, Billy the Quick! Look, I’ll finish the story as soon as you finish the Holy Family, what do you think?”. “Oops, that was a low blow”.

How to get there: From the AG-56 motorway, take exit 27 Lousame-Sampaio-Noia, towards Santa María de Roo, and follow the signs to the Hotel Pesquería do Tambre. www.pesqueriadeltambre.es