Saturday, 16 August 2008

La Vieja

Dust blew down the main street, the only street in the ancient pueblo. We bumped our way down the cobbles, enjoying a brief respite from the unrelenting glare of the meseta until the town and its’ shadow ran out. At a junction. We stopped and circled our wagons. Just one road in but several ways out. Stillness. Silence. Which way now?

Beaded curtains twitched in an old doorframe. A vieja appeared, like she might have done for a thousand years, her wiry frame dwarfed by the large wooden one around her, a wise old face set between the drapes of a black headscarf. Dark eyes set upon us. She paused a moment, sizing us up, perhaps wondering if we really were pilgrims. But there was nothing here she hadn’t seen before, in all the thousands that had passed her way, this year, every year, for hundreds of years.

“El Camino?” she asked. She didn’t really need to; she already knew and didn’t wait for an answer. Raising her stick she pointed up a dusty track, heading uphill into the hazy heat of the afternoon. It didn’t look right but then it often doesn’t. But you can be sure everyone here knows the way. You just need to trust them.