The Grand Tour: Part 2 — The Coast of Death

CORME-PORTO, Spain — The Costa da Morte is located on the tip of the Northwest part of Spain, in the region of Galicia. It is known as Fisterra (Galician, Finisterra in Spanish), meaning land’s end, or the end of the world. It has a rugged coastline with rocks guarding the various bays and inlets. Corme-Porto is located in one of these inlets.

IMG_5020Costa da Morte means “The Coast of Death,” so called because of the number of ships that have foundered on the rocks. Supposedly, the houses of the locals, whose families have been here for generations, have fine china taken from the ships that met their ends here. Legend has it that during times of skirmish with England, the locals would tie lanterns to the horns of cattle so that the ships, thinking they were bobbing lighting beacons, would be drawn on to the rocks and sink, leaving the locals to plunder the loot.

IMG_5017A visit to the Roncudo lighthouse is all that is needed to see how ships could come to grief. The wind blows so hard over the peninsula that one feels as though one could be blown over the edge at any minute and crash into the jugged rocks below, before being washed out to see on the roiling surf.

in 1883, 38 of the 39 crew of the English cargo ship Iris-Hull were lost, despite spending the whole day clinging to the masts in sight of land, simply because there was no way to reach them.

While the area is known as the Coast of Death, the name is quite recent, first noted in print in the 1920s by the writer Eugenio Carré Aldao.

Growing up on the south coast of England, I am especially drawn to the rugged coast and the sea winds. It is similar to some of the British coast, especially Cornwall, which has its own Lands End. Of course, there is considerably more sun here than in “good ole Blighty.” It is 70 degrees here today, and only 61 degrees in Brighton on England’s coast. The fact that Brighton is a bustling British tourist resort known for its beach says all you need to know about the British climate (its a good job I grew up loving rain — or is it simply that I had no choice?).

Photo by Ramona Young

Photo by Ramona Young

It is so easy to walk around Corme. Unlike my home is Southeast Texas, there are actually sidewalks and people are encouraged to be travel on foot in town. It is so much fun to walk out the front door, turn right or left, and explore the small winding side streets. The small houses are so full of character. Some are newly constructed, some are renovated, and many look as if they have been around for centuries. To say it is quaint would be a disservice, suggesting some sort of Hobbit-like shire. Instead, it looks exactly what it is — a fishing town that has found a way of life that is sustainable, simple and satisfying.

Even after only a few days, the words of this anonymous poem ring true:

A Corme, patrón a Corme
A Corme se pode ser,
En Corme collin amores,
A Corme quero volver

To Corme, to Corme Captain
To Corme, if you don’t mind,
In Corme I fell in love,
To Corme I wish to go back.

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