As we drove from Santiago, in the northwest of Spain, along the northern (Atlantic) coast to our next destination, the terrain gradually changed from fogged-in mountains to open, rolling green hills and sunny skies. The landscape reminded me of Switzerland, although without the Alps towering above the foothills, with little stone farmhouses and placid, milky-brown cows tucked into valleys between the hills. To our left (north) we could see a line of steel-blue on the horizon – the ocean. Ahead (east), along the ridges of this increasingly mountainous terrain, a phalanx of wind turbines congregated.
I don’t know what it is about wind turbines that thrills me so much. The most dramatic were the ones we saw in Greece. Greece can be such a dry, barren, and impoverished country in parts; the sight of these colossal machines harvesting the wind’s power left us hopeful that the country was on the right path and just might survive its financial woes.
The wind turbines in Portugal – yet another EU country in need of modernization – were also impressive; the sound of the ginormous blades cutting through the wind at “o fim do mundo” (the end of the world), the tempestuous southwest coast of Europe at São Vicente, was exhilarating.
But in Spain, these dynamos give an entirely different sensation. I can’t help but think of the beloved Spanish literary character, Don Quixote, and wonder what he would make of them. Much sleeker, taller, and awe-inspiring than the squat little plugs of windmills in his day, would these have been as threatening to him – or more so?
I don’t know about Don Quixote, but when we drove round a bend and suddenly found ourselves in the midst of them, I felt the urge to reach for my lance. Instead, I grabbed my camera and tried in vain to capture their majesty. These gentle giants, rather than responding to the wind, seemed to be moving their magnificent arms of their own volition, waving us through the pass with approval and on to further adventures.