FORESTIA ROUTES by Luis Portabales and Angel Tourón

Segade waterfalls, Galicia _ Spain

42º 60’ 43.23 ‘’ N, 8º 62’ 3.48’’ W - Caldas de Reis, Galicia, Spain
Starting Point: Caldas de Reis, Pontevedra, Galicia, Spain.
Difficulty level: Easy

The arrival of a new season is always a gift for those who find real beauty in the intimate details of a fleeting, ever-changing moment. Through nature’s ability to sow our path with tiny treasures in the shape of wild seeds, that beauty transcends as a powerful reality from which a connection with authenticity emerges and a voyage towards intensity is born where nature is the only possible canvas.

Spring is a start over, an ok…this has been good, let’s do it again! And every year at CE we accept the invitation and join in on this cyclic game. We prepare for it during winter by building birdhouses, in our workshop, for passerines so that during breeding season, in the spring and summer months, they can use huts, hollows and holes to lay their eggs.

For me, as a maker in CE, it is the perfect excuse to go outside and connect as an active participant in this time of efflorescence.  Packing your backpack and setting off in search of a place to hang the birdhouse you’ve selected, with hopes that a pair of birds will call it home this season, transforms the day into a sort of pilgrimage to a place, a personal sanctuary, where you can return and check the level of success, measured solely in units of attitude and intention. Food for the soul.

This time around I wanted to chose a different place, somewhere other than the previous forests or landscaped grounds where I alone or accompanied by my family had hung other birdhouses. On this occasion, I felt like testing out a river zone and going in search of the Grey Wagtail, probably the most fluvial and slender of the wagtails. This species always seeks out areas where water is present, and in this case, fancies stretches of currents and rapids.

The stretch of the Umia River that passes through the town of Caldas de Reis in the Pontevedra region in Spain was the spot I chose. I was familiar with the area and knew that during the hike up to the waterfalls the surroundings offered a very interesting landscape of old mills, boulders and trees where I could explore and find the perfect place for my birdhouse this spring.

Although the sun was shining when dawn broke, I packed a jacket to keep me warm from the lingering chill on a late winter’s morning and basic items I never leave home without such as my pocket knife, serrated knife and slingshot along with some water, food and coffee.   I chose the Forest birdhouse, the first model I started making in series somewhere around 2011, and for which I have a particular fondness.

Heading upstream, I followed the river’s course in search of unmarked trails, jumping from rock to rock. I zigzagged amidst the trunks some of which had kept up their vertical fight against the current. Others had lost the battle, surrendering in a horizontal homage to the Umia and, at times, forming unrehearsed bridges and dams.

A surprise encounter with a pair of otters who curiously observed me for a few seconds then dove back under and disappeared made me realise that I was in their territory and that this was PURE RIVER region.

Without haste and enjoying each of the different stretches, between leaps and bounds of water, I felt the current grow stronger and noticed how the sound of the birds, which had been consistent so far, ceased to give way to what would be the turning point of the day and the main attraction: Segade waterfall rushed with the force granted by the previous weeks of rainfall,

Imposing but with no need to appear majestic, like someone who knows they posses a power of attraction and do not cater to canons of beauty or wane. The place flaunted itself as a finish line, the end of the road, with a magnetism that forced you to strip off your supplies so you could move about with agility and explore the surroundings. I scanned the area while drinking a sip of water and tinkering with my slingshot. Enough time had passed for me to decide that this was a great spot for replenishing my energy with a bite to eat before going in search of the tree where I would hang my birdhouse.

Just in case any doubts lingered in my mind as to what spot I would choose, a pair of Grey Wagtails started to circle above the main pool with their typical rolling flight and agitated song. I couldn’t be more satisfied.

I found a comfortable place to sit and prepare my pesto pasta pack. While it was warming up, I noticed a tree at a medium distance from where I was, perched in a quiet place next to the main pool where the current slackened and access was comfortable. While I was eating, my attention was divided between following the wagtails, who were persistent in their endeavour to attract my attention, and mentally drawing the path I should take to reach the tree that would signal the end of the day.

I calmly finished eating, as I didn’t want to rush this encounter with the river, the trees and the wagtails. When the time to accomplish the mission arrived, I climbed to the base of the tree and lifted myself up just enough to reach the branch where the Forest birdhouse would await its tenants.

Another spring gone by, another house, another story to tell. Always, yet never the same. I left, retracing my path, filled with good vibes and the determination to continue offering tools for building The Good Life.



Carballo Estrela is the name given to a mood emerged from the need of a change of course and the desire to go back to the point where the taste for the simple things, tradition and creativity go hand in hand to keep a relationship with nature, from the perspective of the new outdoor sensitivity.

Carballo Estrela ( Oak Star ) is familiar and personal purpose of Luis Portabales, with artistic education, that in 2012 decides to move the conceptual aspects of his project to a brick and mortar space in the city of Pontevedra, that under the same name offers equipment and supply for The Good Life. Luis is a drawer, a crafter, a maker, a dreamer who dreams to live his life planting wild seeds that sprouts in a freewheel lifestyle.

Angel Tourón is a photographer of Vigo. Specializing in product photography, reportage wedding and adventures in nature. and

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