25-Sep-2002 -- I had a work journey to Spain to a meeting of an EU project, which I have been working with. This meeting took place in Santiago de Compostela and of course I checked the confluence situation nearby. Possibly the visit to the closest confluence there has not been successful because it is situated it the middle of the lake. I thought that it would be interesting to see the place because the lake was some kind of reservoir (encoro de Fervenza) where the water level and so the possibility to get to the confluence could change greatly.
It turned out that after the official program of last day we had about four hours time before dark. I figured out that the time should be long enough for driving to confluence, (about 40 km) visit there if possible and after that there should also be time for driving about 20 km more to the cost and see the sun set on Atlantic ocean.
Our friendly hosts arranged that I was able to rent a car easily. I managed to persuade Outi and Petri, two other finnish members of the project, with me as co-drivers and we started to race out of the Santiago city. Road maps that we had were not very detailed and we drove through villages and little towns that were not on the map, but Outi and Petri learned soon the correspondence between the road numbers and signs on the map and those we saw by the road. After quite many uncertain turns and crossroads we were excited to saw a sign "VILAFERNANDES COUQUINO encoro de Fervenza" which pointed to a small road which we started to drive along. GPS device showed that we were about 3 km from destination and going to right direction. We continued to drive through farmyards and fields until the drivable road ended at the shore zone near the lake.
We left the car and I walked to the water line and checked the readings. The confluence was over half kilometres away to the direction of the tip of the narrow cape. Because it seemed to be possible to get very close to the right point just by walking around the shore to the cape I asked Outi and Petri about the situation. They said that without proper equipment they would stay by the car but encouraged me to carry on.
With Petri’s small digital camera in other hand and my GPS-phone in other I started to hurry along the shore to the point where the cape seemed to start. Just before getting to the cape there was a small creek that was flowing from the forest to the lake. This creek has engraved a channel to the muddy ground that was about 1 m deep and 1.5 m wide. I searched for the place where to jump over the ditch and succeeded to manage over it so that I just got some bud to my other hand. Then I checked again my location. I had come over 1 km from the car and was still half km away from the confluence. The cape seemed to reach to east exactly to right direction but would it be long enough? I started to run again and watched my navigator: 400 m to go, 300 m, 200 m, then a small mound at the end of the cape so I could not see the end of it. Navigator readings I dear not look anymore. Instead of running I continued walking because of the stony ground and saw the cape ending just behind the mound. I went to the outermost point of the cape and jumped to the rock that was at the water level. Then I peeked the readings: 60m from destination. It is close enough. I decided not to risk my equipment by fording further in lake, took some deep breath and then started to take photos.
After that I made a phone call to Petri and told him that I made it. I saw a spot that I considered to be him near the car at the other side of the lake and asked him to take photos from that side with my camera.
When discussing with people about visiting the confluence, a common subject is if you feel something special when you are there. I would lie if I said that at this confluence I felt nothing. When I memorised the time after my last confluence visit 10 days before in Finland and the chain of more or less random accidents that had brought me here standing on a small rock, other foot in water at the bottom of a man made lake in Spain I must confess that it was an exceptional moment.
When returning from the cape I had to get over that creek again. From this side it turned out to be more difficult. There was no good place to jump over it. I had to step to the bottom of the ditch. I selected the place where a line of stones seemed to go from one side to the other. First step started fine but then my feet start to sink and I found myself standing in mud that reached over my knees. When I tried to pull my legs from mud I felt that my sandals were stuck in mud. In order to get them out of there I would need at least one of my hands. Then I realised that I should have taken some kind of bag with me for equipment although it would have slowed the run. I did not want to lose my Merrells and in order to free one hand I decided to throw carefully my GPS-phone to the other side of the creek because the device is water resistant and the camera is not. After throwing the phone I reached the other sandal with my hand and got it out of mud but then I sank deeper. It occurred to me that I was not able to make a phone call for help anymore and noticed that this creek was not visible to place where the car was. How long would it take until Petri and Outi would come to search for me if I stuck here? Carefully I succeeded to get the other sandal also out of mud. Leaning forward to stones at the bank of the ditch I got other hand on a stone and then gradually got up from the ditch. After that I had to run barefoot to the car because the mud had made sandals so slippery inside that it was impossible to wear them. Near the car the soil of beach was rocky and firm enough for fording in water and washing myself and the sandals.
After visiting the confluence we drove to coast along winding country roads over mountains and got there at the time of the sunset. We drove back to Santiago de Compostela and spent the last evening with other project members at the beautiful old town near the cathedral.