A story from the road, full of bad weather, bears and broken bones…

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*For my budget on the Camino de Santiago click here.

Bad Weather, Bears and Broken Bones

“Zabadica?” Charlie asked incredulously. “They can suck on my dick’a”. He slowly inched his way over to the fountain and proceeded to piss all over the age old granite. The Saints, in their ancient slumber, must have muttered some curse on him then. For on the road to Santiago, hell was nipping his heels ever after. Such is the fate of a cynical Irishman.

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Bones Underfoot

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It is said that if the Spanish man has but one ruler, it is the Church. Therefore, it follows that the Church and its likeness burst through the very seams of Spanish life. It can be seen from the dirt and cobble-stoned roads and in the dense foliage of flora beside. In towns where the people number but fifty to cities where they are more than fifty-thousand. It is also in the heat of the meseta and even in the dew drops of the Galician hills.

On the very edge of the world it is too, and in every village and town and wheresoever there is a collection of houses to be found. Each particular place, whether charted or uncharted, has its own peculiar tale to tell, too.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

The myriad of miracles are many and more. From the curious cannibals that stripped a Saints horse to the very bone. To the Judge whose feet flew away as chickens. The stories linger in the mountains and rivers. They’re fetched up from the fields where farmers toil. It’s spoken of in hushed tones to timid children around the dinner table. And it spreads like dreamy dust from dusk to dawn and east to west until Ocean’s edge. Some places, however, remain silent, and are never sequestered.

A plethora of such dilapidated edifices spritz the country. Rustic ruins of ages past, when Caesars still commanded to the rigors of war. Or from when the black death bleached bones, stem to stern. Some, restructured and framed, for the sightseers selfies.

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Yet, others are left to themselves, with nothing inside but broken beer bottles and empty cartons of cigarettes. Graffiti sometimes grate the walls in these places, where specters are also known to frequent. It has all time and concurrent centuries, however, to ponder piteously the contempt of life. If they could only talk some might say, oh what a tale they could tell.

Tales from a Pilgrim

One such tale, not yet lost against the grains of time, comes to the fore:

A simple pilgrim on a simple pilgrimage once found himself hiking up a steep mountain. His mouth, being as dry as the Gobi, forced him to stop at a nearby fountain to quench his thirst. The pilgrim, upon further inspection, could plainly see that this particular fountain would be baring no liquid. Near death from dehydration, the man went into hysteria. Lashing out at all he could think of, he screamed in vain to the heavens.

“Let me have this one, oh Lord, or have I  journeyed all this way for naught?”.

And he was met with silence.

Finally, after some unspecified amount of time, he heard a voice. A tremendous baritone, in a gravely, steady rhythm, were the words;

“Let me quench your thirst pilgrim, if you but only renounce the Lord”.

The voice came across like one that had swam in 500 tons of whiskey and puffed on near a million cigarettes. And the poor pilgrim looked up to see the face of the devil himself.

“I could never do that, devil. Not for any amount of riches or water in this world”, the pilgrim coolly replied.

Those words were enough, and St. James himself miraculously appeared. Giving the pilgrim a drink from a scallops shell. And that was that.

By this time, Charlie had zipped up and turned around.

“Look man, let’s just camp up here for the night. We can’t make it back down in your condition.“, I said.

He looked resigned to the idea. Isaiah did, too. So, we put out our sleeping bags… ready for another night under the stars.

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His face contorted, he limped over to his sleeping bag and collapsed in a lump. His bum leg hadn’t healed over the past week like we had hoped. Instead it got worse. Much worse. It wasn’t his fault exactly, he had been trying to help.

Some Time Before

A week ago, when we first set foot up the Pyrenees, everything was perfect. The sun was shining and the temperature was sublime. Compared to the humidity back in Virginia, we counted ourselves lucky. Our spirits were elevated. But we had underestimated one thing; the mountain. It was a mountain that had actually claimed a life not even two years before, little did we know. And sure, to the overzealous and in-shape twenty-somethings, it was a probably a breeze. But we were not that..

Instead we took our leisure and left rather late, or as we called it “early”. We walked maybe five kilometers within the first few hours. I know. We decided we could make the rest of the 22k journey over the mountain before the day ended. Again, I know.

Charlie sent me on ahead to secure food in the next town. After that, it was just him and Isaiah.

It was dark. And steep. The road was no longer friendly, and Isaiah was going slow. This wasn’t the first time Charlie was turning around to see where he was. However, it was the last. In a quick moment, as Charlie turned, his feet caught a root. He crashed down hard on a rock. Yep, that was when it happened. And they started spider-webbing ever after.

The Road is No Longer Friendly

It was cold when we saw the clouds starting to turn dark. You can almost feel it can’t you? When rain is going to come on down. The moisture or something, almost lets you know.

We huddled as best we could in our thin sleeping bags. Trying to make the best of a bad situation. I looked over Charlie and Isaiah. We are miserable, I thought, sitting here damp and cold like this. What are we doing?

All of the sudden, Charlie sat straight up. I looked over and right in the road was a huge black bear. I mean huge.

The taxi ride back to town was uneventful that night. All of us huddled in the back, still damp and cold. I turned to Charlie, and he looked at me… and then he said the words I’ll never forget… “They can still suck on my dick’a”.

-Tmoney out.