Day 13, around Ribadesella — 113 km

We have seen prehistoric cave drawings up close and personal.

We saw horses, and fallow deer, and reindeer, and goats. We also saw markings that my comprehension was not good enough to be sure about. I thought at first that it was a basic map of the cave system, but I’m no longer sure.

The first cave was Cueva del Buxu, just outside a tiny village to the south of Ribadesella. Cueva del Buxu was high on my priority list because it only admits maximum 25 people per day, and only 4 days per week. It’s off the beaten track, and actually quite difficult to reach, even with independent transportation. Or rather, you can get there, but there’s no where to park and you hike steeply uphill a kilometer in order to access the entrance. We were late, but of course our guide waited for us. There was no one before or after us, so I guess she had time.

It is a smaller cave system, and was probably inhabited by one family group (at a time, over the course of thousands of years), between 20-30 people maximum. It commanded an excellent view over the valley (there are young trees now, which obscure the view), and was probably a permanent residence (this from the guide at the next cave) versus a nomadic residence.

In neither cave were we allowed to take pictures inside, but here we are at the entrance of Cueva del Buxu after the tour:


In many ways, I liked this cave better. There were more things to see, although our guide made it clear that we were not being shown the entire complex (for conservation reasons). The paintings and engravings were smaller and harder to find, but quite clear when they were pointed out. The stalagmites and stalactites were gorgeous, too.

And just because it’s lovely, this is the entrance to the entrance:


The colors of the decorations in Cueva del Buxu are red (iron oxide) and black (charcoal, possibly combined with magnesium? I zoned out sometimes, but Matt thinks so.)

In the Cueva de Tito Bustillo (and his pals — their names are on various parts of the system, which is huge), there was an additional color, purple. I didn’t catch all the words about what made that color. Our guide there spoke slightly more clearly, but incessantly, leaving no time for questions or clarifications. My brain got tired, trying to take in as much as possible so that I could explain things to Matt and Dick that maybe weren’t clear from the exhibit we saw beforehand, and our more patient guide at Buxu.

This second cave system has an excellent museum/exhibition, explaining the findings and development of the cave system. If I had planned better, we would have made it easier on ourselves by going there first, instead of after. As it was, we did a quick mini-tour of the museum before entering the cave, but after we’d already seen the one at Buxu.

For a recommendation, in case anyone reading this is thinking about it: give yourself time to do the Tito Bustillo exhibit first, then the cave, then another cave such as the excellent Cueva del Buxu.

As before, we were not allowed to take photos inside the cave. Also, we were not shown the entire system. In this case, we only saw one room of the cave, which had enormous horses and deer across it. They were beautiful, and wonderful colors. I was curious about some of the other rooms, such as the Camarin de las Vulvas. Yes, you read that right, the vulvas. The pictures were interesting. I’m not sure I would have identified the shapes without question as vulvas, and as a waxer, I’ve seen quite a number of them. However, the literature says that it’s a recurring symbol, and that it is general considered a vulva. Ok.

So here’s Matt and Dick outside the entrance. Oh, and this cave has a river running through it.


We’re expecting a huge storm, and we could feel, after coming out of this complex, that the temperature had drastically cooled. It was still clear, though, so we took the off-highway route back to our hotel in Llanes.

We’re preparing for the incoming storm. Matt has decided that instead of staying with us one more day, he is going to drive to Madrid over two days, because staying with us could potentially make his rain drive longer (if we move on), but if he has two days, and it’s as bad as the reports indicate, he can rest more.

Dick and I are hoping to move on tomorrow, but our destination will very much depend on what the weather maps are showing in the morning.

Meanwhile, we headed into town to find some food. We went to the sidreria (cider bar) that we had most wanted to try yesterday but which had been closed, and it was open: Sidreria el Antoju. And may I say: FABULOUS. The people were friendly, and the food was better than any we’ve had since our first 2 days in Spain (the first pintxos place our hotel host in San Sebastian recommended, and Restaurant Azurmendi, the 3-star Michelin restaurant).

So the thing with the cider is: no matter which way you aerate it (various hand and automatic pumps, or pouring from a distance), you are to drink it immediately while the air is still in it. If you are doing it yourself, the whole bottle might be gone very quickly. If someone is serving it to you, they tend to give you quite a bit of time between servings, which is a quite different experience.

Matt got a little excitedly impatient, and decided to pour us himself, so he took the bottle and a glass to the bucket the proprietor used to catch spills. He was spotted, and chastised (in a very friendly way), and then given a lesson. Much practicing and laughing ensued, but this was the very first pour:


The proprietor said that the trick is to look where you’re pouring it FROM, not the glass. Move the glass to catch it. And it has to be very very high. Matt says also to keep the glass quite tilted, although I noticed that when our host tilted it more, it spilled more, so I’m not so sure.

We had a delicious meal, and a fun time, and left quite happy. There had been a little rain while we were inside, but we’ve gotten back dry. There is some indication that the whole storm has just evaporated, and we’re really hoping so. When we looked before dinner, it was pretty severe, and covered most of the peninsula. Not the best weather for riding!