Last night, I ate a farewell meal with John and Steffan. Wine flowed, and the conversation with it, and all around us on the square, the same was happening: people were engaged in animated conversation. Except at one table where four young girls sat in total silence, looking downward, speaking not a word, concentrating, engaged, socializing , but not with each other. Most un-Spanish!
This morning, I left my roommates asleep, and followed a mechanical street cleaner through the old town, a Zamboni with flippers.
At the edge of town, I stood in awe beside the aquaduct that once carried water into Emerita Augusta, (Merida). It stood alone, carrying now, not water, but a few stork nests. Secular birds, perhaps. This, more than any of the other monuments in Merida, reminded me of my place in the world.
And then, in contrast with this noble monument, a really ugly piece of graffiti, which I won't quote, with one word crossed out and replaced, so that together, the two statements, the original and the emendation, represented the opposing forces in the western world today.
I walked along a green bicycle path to the Dam of Proserpina, which supplied the water that flowed across the aqueduct and into Merida. And then, after a stretch along a dirt road, the way cut across rocky country ablaze with broom, growing unmolested in its native land.
The solid church tower at El Carrascalejo had been commandeered by a stork who paraded around the ledge returning to feed her young in the nest at the corner. Look at the size of it! Ample room to store babies up there, far out or reach of curious eyes that might want to challenge the myth.
Just before Aljucen I stepped aside to let a flock of sheep go by. On another occasion when this happened, I remember that the sheep were pushing and shoving, running off into alleys before being brought back by the sheepdog.
Today, Pedro their shepherd was a veritable pied piper: he was leading, not herding. Only Martha, at the left at the back, was struggling to keep up. And the dog had no work to do at all.
Funny how we have these conflicting images. On one hand, we have sheep as an image of mindless followers; on the other, we have the image of the lost sheep. Or those who have gone astray-ay-ay-ay.
I was feeling a bit lonely, after leaving behind my camarades du chemin, but at the albergue is an Australian from Melbourne, and a French couple from the Loire. We are staying at the Albergue Rio Aljucen, converted farmhouse, on the right just before the church. A very comfortable, hospitable place!
I ate a nice meal at the bar across the road. Scrambled eggs with green beans, and calamari. But only one glass of red.