• The Hillside

    Nature, freedom, togetherness…

“A Baixa”

The hillside step by step…

Firecrackers and ringing of bells

Early in the morning, around half past six, the sound of church bells ringing energetically and the roar of firecrackers awaken the people of the town and visitors sleeping in the “Campo do Medio” campsite.

Early morning mass

That is when, with the first rays of sun marking a new day, they head off to the Church to hear the “dawn mass”.  There, they seek San Lourenzo’s protection for the “baixa” (driving the horses into the village) and the subsequent “Curro” (cutting of manes in the arena).

Meeting at Celeiro before departure

After mass, people gather in the “Celeiro”, a central spot in the village, where they wait for the less early risers to arrive. The last firecracker is the signal for everyone to set off for the hills.

The walk into the hills

At around seven o’clock, the hike begins; the locals from Sabucedo, accompanied by numerous visitors who will help in the “baixa” take the footpath into the hills surrounding the village. The path into the hills starts at the Piquite oak-tree. Participants cross the road that joins Sabucedo and Quireza before starting the uphill walk to “A Espiñeira”.

Surrounding the herds

Once everyone has reached the top, they divide into groups and start tracking their target: once a “grea” (herd) is located, it is surrounded and the circle tightens slowly so that the horses can be driven in the right direction. Herds are trapped like this at several spots in the hills: Cábado, Pranzadoira, Conla…

Rounding up at ‘El Peón’

All through the morning, the various herds are driven downhill by the people to El Peon valley, where they are rounded up. Once the horses have arrived from El Cávado, the hill furthest away from the village, and following a quick snack for everyone, the run into Sabucedo starts.

Descent of the bestas to Sabucedo

Depending on how things have gone in the hills (which depends heavily on the weather), people start running into the village with the ‘bestas’ at around three or four o’clock in the afternoon. At that point, as Manuel Cabada points out, a second encounter occurs between the people and the “bestas do Santo”: «an encounter takes place between the youngsters that arrive all sweaty from running in the hills (which stands as a living symbol of the future of the village and the country) and elder villagers with visitors and onlookers» and «in which the entire village reaffirms – this is another characteristic feature of this festivity – its true community spirit».

The “Baixa” represents an interaction between the young and the old, where the elders teach the younger ones how to perform the tasks of rounding up the “bestas”, which is part of the continual work that is carried out throughout the year.

Until they are led to the ‘Curro’ (arena), the horses are kept in a corral near the village (Cataroi), where they are fed to build up their strength so they can courageously withstand the struggle against the also brave ‘aloitadores’ (wrestlers) that they will face in a few hours’ time.

Montouto

Pranzadoira, Conla, Cabado, Espiñeira, Souto, … and many more, these are the names of the mountains that people who have set off to round up the “beasts” on the first morning of the festivities have to roam. These mountains form a 45-square-kilometre landscape of nature in which participants can enjoy beautiful views of the countryside full of streams, boulders and footpaths which they can walk along to enjoy the day next to the “as bestas”.

® Rapa das Bestas - 2017