Friday, August 16th

Left just after 6, still night. The sun is yet to burn off the morning mist. Narrow footpaths. Passing a gypsy site, although the gypsies themselves weren't out and about yet. Brilliant. Been singing Maggie Mae quietly to myself, and bits of Tom Traubert's Blues. It's great.

Plaza de la Fuente, and there's fat goldfish in the fountain.


In the El Pájaro Bar. First one you come across entering the town. There may be a better one further on, but whatever, I've been hanging out for a coffee and a pastry for the last three towns, and I'm not waitin' any more.

a little later
The Road, the GR65, turns upwards before actually passing through the town. A climb, then flattening out, passing the 1936 monument to the Spanish Civil War dead. A wide path, trimmed with violet and purple flowers. Picked one, and placed in my hat band. Feeling trés jolly, sorry, mucho jolly. Singing, feeling good. Through small forests. Walking alone, although there's other pilgrims way ahead and way behind.

Fuente de Mojapan
This is the place that medieval pilgrims were terrified of. Wolfpacks roamed, snacking on the odd pilgrim or two. Unfortunately the Fuente is no longer drinkable, but there's no longer any wolves. Although that other pilgrim over there looks a little strange. The only thing comparable to wolves on today's Camino is the bastard at Logrono.

Thinking stuff. Still hard to follow a thought through, it goes off into tangents. Begin by thinking, okay, what's the 'big thought', the big question, the one aiming at some kind of self-discovery. The meaning of life? easy, death. Socrates said so. Reality? easy, reality is a complex web of inter-related hypotheses. Next! I've nearly done 1000kms and still think I'm basically the same person. Maybe it just won't happen. Trying to think of what I've learned from the trip. That providence happens. Usually.
On the road, you meet people who are on some kind of quest for the higher meanings, the inner metaphysical realities; then the religious ones out to prove their faith; the spiritual ones, who are more open-minded that the religious ones; then those trying to untangle some personal problems, but who are the most likely to give The Way away. They just disappear.
Just feeling alone at the moment, which is the way I want it, particularly during the walking part. Haven't felt any 'presences' guiding me. Just achieve a state, while walking, where I begin to feel really good.

Saint Juan de Ortega
The walk into here, according to Raju, was meant to take three hours. I don't think so, but maybe singing On The Road Again, loudly, quickened the pace a little, I dunno.

There's not much here. There's a bar, and the refugio, and the church, and someone humming from the window behind me. That's about it, except for the telefono which doesn't work.

a little later
Other pilgrims, the ones who were way behind, are arriving, adding their packs to the queue. Sharon's bald friend, the Spanish-only guy. So is the French-only Plasticbagman. They're not having too much luck with the conversation.

As usual, arriving at the day's destination is a bit of a downer, having to wait until the refugio's open. A few 'ola's' or 'bonjour's' to whoever I know who's managed to arrive before I did. Then the interminable waiting around. Finding whatever it is there is to do. Finding a bar is good.

As there's no shop in town, the restaurant is doing an absolutely thriving business. Just finished lunch, at a table inside, with three other pilgrims. Santo, who has a voice like crushed gravel and who talks non-stop; Felicia, who has purple hair and lips painted like a clown's; and Maria, who at least tried whatever English she knew. I have absolutely no idea what their conversation was about. Don't care really. They may have been making unpleasant remarks on monolinguistic people, in fact, they probably were. Still don't care.

There is absolutely nothing to do here. I've checked out the church three times, seen the tomb of Saint Juan himself twice, tried to be frightfully interested in religious iconography, but there's only so much you can take, or only so much that I can take in, it all begins to blur.

Back in the bar. Having a second beer. I suppose I could be busily learning Spanish like the woman I had a chat with before. We compared tattoos, and hers are crap. There's the barman who only speaks Spanish, and me, and the occasional customer who wanders in from the group under the large umbrellas outside. Sat with them for a while, then they wandered off to the church. Not me, not a fourth time. There's Anthony, and the girl he's been walking with; there's a woman from Sweden who's doing police training. But the others just bubbling away in languages I don't understand. Given away even trying to be involved, of being a hanger-on. The outsider. I'm drifting again, can't maintain the thread of a thought. Just drift.

The chick with the crap tatts is attempting a conversation with the barman. She has her Spanish-English dictionary at the ready, and is rifling through pages. Maybe she got the emphasis wrong on the second syllable of the third word of her attempted sentence, or maybe the incorrect use of the feminine intransitive verb, whatever, she's rendered the barman totally flummoxed. Good luck, sweetie.