Day 19 Camino -Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca

This morning I woke before dawn, just like 60 people did in this village 82 years ago. I walked up the hill out of town like they did. The mist was down and the trail was dark. I had to have portable illumination to see the way clearly. I used a maglight.


They would’ve had torches. The torches would’ve been held by unsmiling silent young men. About an hour until dawn. It was very dark. An hour uphill through mist. An hour uphill to the summit. I walked in the footsteps of these liberal minded men. This path was the Camino then, as well. Maybe a pilgrim would’ve stood aside as this crowd came up the hill, wondering as they told their rosary. Did all sixty even come up at once? It is hard to think about it. As the mist began to clear and the fingers of dawn broke the darkness and brought the day I arrived at their destination. A cold silent hilltop far from the town. A shallow grave. Were they blindfolded? I don’t know. Did they dig the grave themselves? Very possibly. Because of ideas. Because of a conflict of ideology. Because General Franco chose a swift and decisive means of preventing threats to his dictatorship. These sixty people were shot for their liberal ideas, in this cold forsaken place in the morning mist. Shot by men who returned to their families. Maybe played with their daughters. Maybe read them a goodnight story, turning the pages with their trigger finger.


A monument stands here now. “Their deaths will not be useless – their execution was useless.” We can only hope. But again, extremism is becoming mainstream. “Justified”.

It just takes another scared little boy in the right position going “It’s the kind people. They’re the real threat. The ones that think humans are just humans and that ignore the structures we have created to attribute relative measurable value to them. Human worth has to be measurable! We know this because we have constructed our patented human values measuring scale. Those people in the next village think our scale is arbitrary andn it just reflects our birth priorities, but they don’t count because the scale tells us they aren’t important.” And then the cold eyed frightened young men come with guns. This is just 60 people. The liberals from one village in Spain. Ideas have killed so many people – and liberalism vs fascism  is a big one still – on and on forever because these two worldviews cannot be reconciled. Protect vs welcome. I sit here in my espadrilles thinking “Why can’t we just all get along, man?”

The walk was beautiful today and I’ve stopped early. I stopped before I had to, for the first time in ages. I hit Atapuerca. It’s one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, with Ice Age cave paintings and human remains dating back 800,000 years. I’ve booked a tour. It’s in Spanish. The guy kept on telling me “it’s in Spanish. You don’t speak Spanish.” I told him “me looky looky think think. Understanding some wordy. Okay be me yes yes thanky.” He still didn’t really get why I was so keen to go…

I see his point to an extent. My feet were freezing and it was a guy standing by a wall talking for ages in Spanish. I occasionally asked the Mexican pilgrim “what’s he saying?” and got “They used to trap animals here. The rest is shit jokes.” Reminds me of when I used to tour guide on the boats. But these ancient humans used to eat each other. Maybe the ones who thought the mammoth leg was better eating than the mammoth flank. The perverts. They deserve to be eaten with their incorrect leggy ideals. So we’ll eat them even though it gives us degenerative brain diseases. Because flank is better. It always has been. I haven’t had leg and I don’t need to cos I know. Kill ’em. Leggy twats. Bury them in a shallow grave.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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