19. The Lonely Goat Herder

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.
Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.
Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

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Last night we stayed in Grimaldo in the very sweet municipal albergue… only 14 beds and 12 were taken… lucky for us no-one took the 2 spare beds in our room.

After chores and chatting with the Bordeaux guys we wandered over to the restaurant opposite to see what was on offer.  The menu looked good so we stayed for a drink and waited for the restaurant to open.

I struggled to get the barman to understand my dreadful spanish so as we sat and drank, Maggie played me the phrase through her iPhone app… Coolgorilla.   It was very useful so I searched on Playstore for an android version… I couldn’t find it but I did download another.

As I sat looking through the sections of useful phrases I found  one labelled talk like a native… in here I found delights such as so what in your dreams… and seriously… and many others.  We played the recording of each phrase and tried to repeat them… we’d totally lost it by the time we reached … you’re so ugly you made an onion cry. The old guy sat across from us tried so hard not to laugh but in the end even he couldn’t hold back… Maggie and me were giggling most of the evening and just looking at his face now  in the photo makes me laugh out loud… ahh the simple things that entertain us.

After our meal we said goodnight to the Bordeaux guys and the Italians… sadly we’re unlikely to see them again.   They were the first pilgrims we saw leaving Sevilla and now they are moving ahead… 38km is fine with them… so we said a sad farewell and headed off to bed… more changing of the guards.

The Italians woke us all at 5:00 am… there was nothing subtle about their leaving… lights on, shower, chatting, even the pinging of the microwave… they really need a serious lesson in albergue etiquette… maybe it’s not a bad thing that they will be a day or two ahead of us. The Bordeaux guys were less than impressed when they left this morning… gonna miss these lovely French men… even though they do wander around in their skimpy speedos every afternoon after their shower… Buen Camino guys… you’ve been great company!

We were the last to leave…at 7:20! We looked for arrows as we knew that today was a complicated day… deviations and disputes have meant a few odd markers could send us in the wrong direction… we’d also heard that one local farmer tried to deter pilgrims by filling his fields with cows and the odd bull… oooh happy days!

I stepped through the first gate with nervous anticipation… and giggled to myself as I remembered my first cow encounter on the camino frances… let’s hope I’m braver today! As it turned out it was well marked and cowless.

What we did have instead was another glorious sunrise and a beautiful walk.   Gone are the flatlands (for now)… we wandered through black oak forests and sweet meadows.  The early morning was cold and fresh and the ground smelled like sweet straw.  We ducked under branches and ooohed and aaahed at the distant hills and mountains, blue in the morning mist.  We passed fields of sheep and cows and listened to small birds chirp and watched hunting birds soar and glide and dive across the fields.  Oh it was a great morning to be walking.

The path, unlike previous days, turned and twisted… sometimes hidden and sometimes straight.  Sometimes the path was soft grass and othertimes it was rock or sand.  In places the path was littered with green acorns… no doubt a tasty treat for passing grazers. .. other times it was covered in purple crocus… growing out of the dust.

At some point, for no good reason, I started singing The Lonely Goat Herder… at the yodels Maggie joined in and we had a little syncronised singing session before we fell back into our silent wandering.

Maggie said that today was her favourite day so far… and I thought of winnie the pooh…

What day is it?”, asked Winnie the Pooh

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet

“My favorite day,” said Pooh

As the sun rose we walked along a road and then up and up a track before we came to something new… green fields… a patchwork of green fields… and water running. .. and hedgerows and blackberries and rosehip… even bullrushes growing from a roadside stream.   After the scorched earth of the last weeks it seemed so out of place… a little oasis in the desert.

More hills to climb before we finally caught sight of today’s destination… Galisteo… a fortified roman village… once a hugely important rest stop along the Via… we’ll go and explore the walls and old town later.

Oh and I’m in my first top bunk and were sharing a room with 6 men… one is already snoring like a trooper so i think I might need earplugs tonight!

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