Paddling in the Rice Fields with the Eco Warrior of the Delta de l’Ebre

Sometimes it’s easy to forget how good the simple pleasures of life can be. Sitting on the edge of a brook with my feet dangling in cool, clear water (clear until my muddy feet corrupted it) with the sun in my face after a stint working in the rice fields was an idyllic reminder that life doesn’t have to be fast-paced or adventures adrenalin fuelled.

When I say working in the rice fields I might have been exaggerating a little. Grabbing a few handfuls of rice whilst trying to discreetly manoeuvre an inquisitive ant who’d made its way into my boxers was the more accurate picture.

On an eco-safari with Catalan eco warrior, the poetic Polet on the Delta de l’Ebre you get close to nature and nature gets close to you.

Delta Polet

Delta Polet, the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

Our guide through the wetlands, and an eco champion of the Delta who continually fights to maintain nature’s dominance of the Delta de l’Ebre, Polet says he needs nothing else from life than the gifts the Delta bestows upon him.

The Paddy Fields of the Delta de l’Ebre

Rice Fields at the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

I was totally blown away by the sight of the rice fields in the Delta de l’Ebre. They’re South East Asia meets Catalonia. A stint at rice picking is part of the eco-safari and the soft, silky mud between the toes was not an unpleasant experience. It’s understandable that the mineral rich mud inspires some visitors to strip off and dance and roll about in it. Thankfully for all involved the stripping off part is not compulsory.

Tools of the Trade in the Rice Fields

Rice at the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

Demonstrating the wisdom that his calm eyes suggest, Polet didn’t let any of us loose on the scythes so no chance of mirroring the title of the movie ‘There Will Be Blood.”

The Cotswolds of the Delta de l’Ebre

Besides the Rice Fields at the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

In one small step for a man and a not so giant leap for mankind we shift continents from Thailand to the Cotswolds in the space of a few feet. Whilst Polet flung his net into the pond, which clearly doubled as his larder, I daydreamed of lazy, sunny afternoons living in a house like this.

Swanning Around on the Wetlands

Swans at the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

After a disastrous (for my cred) traditional game that was a cross between bowling and boules we relocated to another part of the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Reserve (Parc Natural del Delta de l’Ebre) and a haven for bird-life. Out of the 600 species of bird that flap about Europe, 325 of them spend some of their time on the Delta.

Splashing Around on the Delta de l’Ebre

Fishing on the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

The Delta is also home to many things with fins and tails that are destined for the frying pans of the local restaurants. A bonus if you’re a fish and seafood fan.

Splashing around on the Delta de l’Ebre 2

eels from the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia
But not if, like a good percentage of our group, the idea of eels doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing. I’m sure a couple of these guys turned up in various guises at Restaurant l’Estany later. The thing about eels is that they tend to get a bum deal because they’re long and slithery. They’re actually quite tasty… trust me.

Splashing around on the Delta de l’Ebre 3

Punting on the Wetlands of the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia
The eco-safari ends with a punt on the river as the sun sets. A romantic and gentle end to the day… or so we thought. All those images of guys in blazers and straw boaters lazily punting along the river whilst some belle reclines across the bow with her hand trailing in the water should be done under the Trades Discrimination Act. Punting is hard, hard work. It seems quite the most illogical method to propel a boat. The slightest breeze had us reed bound even though muscles strained to bursting point to move us a foot in the right direction.

Splashing around on the Delta de l’Ebre 4

Paddling on the Wetlands of the Delta del Ebro, Catalonia

Thankfully Polet and companion came to the rescue with some life-saving paddles – a much easier way to manoeuvre the punt – and we were able to make it back to shore otherwise we’d still be out there exploring the reed beds.

A fun, informative and nature-hugging day was had by all… and we had those eels to look forward to into the bargain.

We took on the nature of the Delta de l’Ebre and had a blast of a time doing so courtesy of the Catalunya Tourist Board.

Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+

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