Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Bless me Father!

So I set off the next morning whilst it was still darkish. The way could not have been more obvious. Straight down the the back of the nasty little hill and out into the fields. So as I walked I thought about how many days I still had left till I could get back to the UK. Oh I've just run out of tarmac and there is a fence ahead of me. So I retrace my steps, to the last cross roads. There I look for a yellow arrow in the yellow light of the street lamps. I do not find it as the marked route has cut this corner off with a short cut through the estate. I am a little unnerved. I walk back to the fence and wonder if I am supposed to climb over it. I see no signs of a path on the other side so that cannot be it. Back to the cross roads. In the distance I notice a group of pilgrims crossing the field that I have recently been looking into. But they are on a parallel course to the imagined way that I had hoped for. This unmarked road must be it and sure enough it is. I meet up with the lost Camino shortly after. It descends into open fields that smell damp and growing. As I walk the crushed herbs under foot release their oils that fill the air with nature in the morning. Looking up, ahead I see that the way rises to the top of what seems a low hill.The top is not far away and it is not to step a climb. Oh! the deceits of the eyes. It takes over two hours to reach the top. It is quite steep.As it is morning in May there is dew and fresh lush grass underfoot. Wonderful grease to slip on the clay beneath. Two thirds of the way up. I hear the noise of a group a group of Irishmen talking with verve. I would not like to call them old. But they were most certainly senior. I pause on the path near where they are sitting. It is good to hear the Queen's English spoken by one who does it every day. One of the Irishmen look down at me and asks where I have come from. I tell him. He corrects the question. Not where had I started today, but where was my home. I tell him. I also answer the next question he puts to me, by saying that I am an Anglican Priest. He is in raptures. 'Glory be, bless me Father' he says. So I do. He then tell me that he likes the pilgrimage and discloses that he has been on many before and lists them. He does not include the Camino as this is his first. He is quiet for a moment and says 'I can't stand the gradient. I love the pilgrimage, but I can't stand the gradient'. I leave him with his friends chatting on the rocky outcrop and go to the top of the hill. At the top there is a large metal sculpture of a line of pilgrims in silhouette. It also forms the background to the banner on this blog. Now it is down hill to lunch in Puente. A steady walk after a steep decent. And with the bridge, the end of the first major section.

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