Step by Step

::: By Hand and On Foot :::

A Last Hurrah

How time flies! Here it is, my last full day in Carrion de Los Condes. Tomorrow I take the train to Madrid, where I will have a couple of sightseeing days, then on Sunday I hop on the plane and head home to California.

Of course I couldn’t let my last day pass without one final adventure. All month long I’d been eyeing a particular high point just to the north of the Camino – a sort of mini mountain with a small monument on top. What is it? and how do you get there?

Even six years ago, when I walked the Camino, I noticed it. There is a sketch in my journal of the view across the fields, and the hill with the monument. I thought it was on Flickr, but alas, no, or I would have shared it.

Today I vowed to visit this spot, come what may.

I had decided that it looked closer to the N-120, the road on its far side, than to the Camino and the road to Vilalcazar de Sirga, so I drove to the next town, San Mames de Campo, and parked by the church. I walked a little way down one dirt road, but it seemed to curve back to the highway, so I walked back into town, where I met two women out walking.

“Pardon me,” I said in my best fractured Spanish, “but is it possible to walk from here to that hill with the tower?”

“Eh??” asked the older woman, and rattled off something in very fast Spanish, muffled by her voluminous scarf, and started wandering off.

The younger woman, who was the older woman’s caretaker, asked me, “El montecito? con el crucero?”

“Si! Si!” I eagerly replied.

“Do you speak French?” continued the woman. It is apparently my fate to always speak French in Spain. I wonder, if I visit France, if I will end up speaking Spanish there. She then explained that the other dirt road out of town would take me there, and that bicyclists ride from one town to the other on this road. “Look for a turnoff to the right,” she added, while the older woman, across the small plaza by now, irritably rapped her cane against the cobblestones as a signal to hurry up.

And so I thanked her and set off across the campo.

Looking back at San Mames.

Looking back at San Mames

The first turnoff to the right dead-ended in a plowed field, but that was ok; this was an adventure. (I have just finished reading an account of Andree’s ill-fated balloon expedition to the North Pole; perhaps I should pay attention to a warning therein: “Adventure arrives on a voyage of discovery in the form of a mistake, and is almost always unwelcome.”)

The second turnoff was more promising, and led nearer and nearer to the hill I was aiming for.

Today's trail

It also came closer and closer to Carrion de Los Condes; somehow my sense of distance and perspective had been warped, and I would have been better off simply walking from my house. In fact, the road led straight to Carrion, and I turned off onto another dirt road, hoping it would lead up to the hill.

About the same time I was noticing that I was drawing ever closer to Carrion, I also noticed that the wind was picking up… and wait, it was now coming from the northeast, not the west, which meant that the giant bank of grey and ominous clouds to the east weren’t going away, but were coming ever closer, trailing large veils of rain beneath them.

My goal, with clouds

And was that a flash of lightning? Suddenly the idea of scaling the highest point in the area, while carrying an aluminum hiking stick, didn’t seem like the wisest option any more, and I turned around and headed back to the car.

Now I am home, finishing up my packing. I brought a lot of stuff! and now I also have finished art to carefully wrap.

Prints wrapped for their trip to the USA.

Packing up the prints

Art supplies await their turn.

Ink ready to fly

And I still have not visited my little hill. My mother always used to say if you leave something behind, it’s a sign you really want to return again. I’ve left behind one last adventure. It’s a sure sign: I’ll be back!

the road ahead

2 Comments

  1. beautiful photos… the light is so wonderful this time of year, and you are so skilled!
    I think the hill you are looking at is a “tumberon,” and the monument may be a “hito,” a geographic marker set up by the government a while back to aid in mapping and navigation in these otherwise-anonymous landscapes. ThereĀ“s a great grid of them out there. Some are sited atop Paleolithic tombs, with the stone axes and ancient chieftains still inside.

    Hope you get to know “yours” really well in the future.

  2. If it makes you feel better, I’ve had to whip out my fractured French to communicate with Italians in northern Italy. It worked!
    Your pics of the wide open landscapes remind me of Kansas where Paula & I went to college. LOTS of sky! And great clouds.
    Have a great time in Madrid & have a safe & uneventful trip home!

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