Monday, 26 September 2011

A Walk in the Countryside (Un paseo por el Campo)

Walking. Something I am going to be doing a lot more of in the coming months, partly because the intense heat of summer has dissipated along with the heat haze that gave everything the impression of being a mirage, but in the main because my car has had an awful diagnosis – terminal engine trouble. I shall of course be seeking a second opinion but for the time being I shall use it as infrequently as I can to prolong its shelf life.
To this end I hitched a lift to the village with a friend. The lift entailed going via another’s stables to muck out the stables of a rather elegant horse and beautiful pony.  The pony, Blossom, has only got one eye but is a dear little thing with gorgeous colouring; her stable-mate, Gretyl, is an altogether different creature with hindquarters that would put many of those ‘bootylicious’ popstars to shame. Manure shovelled, horses groomed and turned out, I was dropped off at the village.
Knowing I was to be carrying all my shopping home in my backpack I resolved to only buy the necessary items. So it was that I purchased a 2 litre bottle of Coke (with an extra 200ml free), two bread rolls and some Serrano ham. It was only ten o’clock and the post is not ready for collection until 11.30, so I plonked myself, with book, in the chiringuito for a cafĂ© con leche. I was delighted to find that my Amazon delivery was waiting for me behind the bar, having been doing the rounds for some three weeks; luckily only one standard paperback book.  By the time my second coffee had been consumed it was time for the post and I wandered out only to find that there was no postal service – either that or the times have been changed and the campo drums have been beating downwind from me.
Walking in the mountains is deceptive. As I left the village the start of my track was a giant’s leap away from me on the other side of the relatively narrow valley. After the umpteenth twist of the road that snaked across the head of the valley, the track seemed little closer. Every motorist who passed waved (this is not the equivalent of the A40 I should add), and I politely raised my hand in response. I suppose I know them, perhaps from the queue at the post van, but a face out of context is just a face to me so I do not know who they were. Finally I was at the end of my track. From there I know it is just over 3km to the house – the journey I have to make when I want to get rid of my rubbish at the basura.
The campo is so quiet that sounds that would normally go unnoticed are magnified. I could hear the clicking of the electricity supply from the pylons and wires that marched much of the way with me, and the rustling of tiny, and not so tiny, lizards in the shrubs at the side of the track. The occasional call of birds that swoop along the valley created by the mountain streams and the barking of a dog as I approached its domain, were interlopers into my dreamlike state as I put one foot in front of the other.
Walking also allowed me to notice and investigate the small things that are normally shrouded in a cloud of dust as I drive along the track.  A not insignificant hole had opened up, overnight, on the track and its presence was marked by half a brick and a couple of large stones to divert vehicles and walkers and prevent them incurring damage. It is a deep hole, as if someone had bored it in hope of oil, water or a river of gold and situated where it is it maybe the harbinger of greater erosion on this part of the track. If indeed the track should make its way down the valley’s side from that point then the track will become impassable for all but the narrowest of vehicles.  At intervals along the track, nestling in the dust are pale green acorns sitting in their cups, food for the wild boar that have returned to these lower grounds and a further indication that autumn is indeed here.
On the rise of land just before the pig farm I could see my house crouching in its little dip to the side of the track. It looked a good distance away, but in fact is a mere five minutes jaunt. Passing the empty sheep and goat pens on my left my nostrils and brain registered the pungent (but I find pleasurable) odour of recent occupation. There was neither sight nor sound of the animals, not even the faintest jingle of bells from the necks so I have to assume that they have moved to another part of the campo in search of the increasingly rare grazing.  
The creaking of the bolt on my gates started my dogs barking, so the campo version of a burglar alarm is still working, and I gratefully removed my backpack from a warmed body. It had been a pleasurable way to spend an hour, and good for me too. Unless it is raining I think Shanks’ pony may become my preferred method of transport during the autumn and winter months.
Campo Burglar Alarm