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reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

April 26

April 27th, 2016

April 26

Fromista to Calzadilla de la Cueza 35 km. The meseta, the plain these days where I walk, has many old canals which were once used for transportation but now primarily serve irrigation with weirs that divert water into long heavy concrete aqueducts. The fields remain rapeseed and hay, beautiful, green but boundless, slightly rolling, flat. As in most long-distance tracks, it is easy (and often necessary) to fall into a pattern, rising at the same time, resting at particular points, stopping at regular intervals. On the Camino, the pattern is enforced by the existing support structure– the availability of food at points during the day, towns with albergues at good endpoints. However they can contribute to a certain numbness. For example, the albergues will lock their doors at night, usually around 10:00, which usually is perfectly acceptable. The old adage that hiker’s midnight is 9:00 pm holds here, though the Albergue practice does make me feel as if I’m in high school with a curfew. Still, I have found myself generally amongst the rest of the pilgrims, heading up to the bunkhouse soon after dinner, checking email and settling in for an early evening. Tonight I ate with my friends Gloria and Rudy. Both live in Italy though Gloria is originally from Porto. After dinner we walked up the hill to a bell tower full of swallows next to a cemetery. Gloria and I stayed, feeling the evening wind slowly picking up at our backs. Spread out before us was the broad, slightly rolling plain– flat and green– in stark contrast to the mounded clouds above the horizon. We waited as the sun sank and the colors came up. Purples moving to pink and orange, intense light drawing sharp lines on the vapor. Then the moment when the pink circled the horizon, only then to turn black, and we hurried like delinquent school children back to the Albergue door which remained unlocked. Sometimes people show you what you should have been seeing all along, but for habit, desire for comfort, and a little laziness. These people need to be cherished.

T. Hugh Crawford