Into the belly of the beast to encounter Genaro’s Tree

Loña do Monte, Nikon F3HP, Nikkor 28mm F/2.8 AF-D, Ilford HP5+, ID-11 1:1

There are no lions, tigers or bears in these parts yet I seldom venture too far off the trail. My attitude toward this has definitely changed after my recent adventure off the beaten track at the invitation of Genaro, a neighbor in the village.

Genaro and his tree. Nikon F3HP, Nikkor 28mm F/2.8 AF-D, Ilford HP5+, ID-11 1:1

As a boy Genaro would gather chestnuts with his grandmother under this tree, which is believed to be about five hundred years old. As time has passed through generations there are less people collecting the annual harvest of chestnut. The impact of this trend has lead to a gross overpopulation of wild boar which feast on the acorns, chestnuts and the grubs they attract.

Now the hunt begins.

Loña do Monte is made up of five small villages in the mountains to the east of Ourense. Its altitude allows for a summer temperature some 10C cooler than that of the city in the valley below. On this day in October you could feel the first cool winds of autumn take the heat off the still hot sun.

Venturing only about 20 minutes into the forest it is hard to judge how progressively dark it is getting as your eyes adjust to the shade of the canopy. Typically an unimportant detail until one remembers that they packed only a film camera and a roll of Ilford HP5+ 400 ISO black and white film. Sure why not, it’s going to be sunny and it’s just for family photos…