I’m back on the meseta. All around me people I’ve met are getting sick. “It’s definitely not the fountains,” say lots of people on the forums. “It’s you filthy humans with your filthy ways. Spanish water is fine.” And yet it always seems to happen in this area at this time. I blame the clams. They’re trying to take over. But seriously, these fountains…
I’ve seen people give their dogs drink from them. They joyfully lick all around the tap. “Get the water boy!” Then some pilgrim fills their flask. I doubt it’s dog slobber though. If it’s the fountains I suspect they’re loosely treated groundwater and not treated as effectively as the tapwater here. It could be a norivirus that just happens to always hit this area at this time, as first respondents on the forums will be quick and aggressive to attest. But personally, and call it superstition, don’t drink from the fountains on the meseta. Better safe than sorry, eh?
The meseta is a stark and extensive high altitude plateau that runs most of the way from Burgos to Leon. I’ll be walking this road a few more days yet. There is very little to either side. Just fields or scrub. The flies are persistent. I am not the only pilgrim to have found a way to cover my face entirely while walking. I look like I’m about to kill you, but it’s that or spit out a fly out every few seconds.
As I sit here in my sarong, I have my hand over my wine glass because the fuckers are literally all over me. And I’m having to make myself okay with that because it’s that or sit inside on a lovely evening. They go with the territory.
They call this “The mind section”. It’s hard, hot and not known to be beautiful. It’s a high altitude plateau swimming with flies and sickness. A lot of people skip it for that reason. They get a bus from Burgos to Leon, and who’s to blame them. I’m up for it though. I’ve got shit to do.
After a blissful day of rest yesterday I walked for the first time since France without compeed or bandages. After I stopped I did not end up flat out on a bottom bunk in the Albergue as many have. My body has got this now. Nick is nothing but a hard bit of skin. He is unchanged today. I know my limbs are functioning well. I’m fit. Physically I feel like I’ve come out of a cocoon. I feel so much more connected with my body and my breath than I did a month ago. So now I can smash out the miles on my own terms and look at the inside of my head as I go. There’s a lot going on in that head. Once that part of the cocoon is broken then some sort of mad wonderful butterfly can emerge and startle you all. But first it’s a few more days of flies and heat as I come to terms with all the conflicting voices and influences, and tease out what is really important to this bundle of flesh, while trying not to eat too many flies or catch another hideous vomiting nightmare disease of death. In a convent.
Whatever happens to me it can’t be as bad as what happened to the sister in the convent who helped me move rooms. The Filipino sisters of Santa Maria de Belén are a very devout, robust and practical order. They are the stick flavour of nun, not the carrot flavour. But she happened to be on the corridor while I was having a particularly glorious noisy bout, simultaneously, through both ends. I could reach the sink sitting down thank God. Once it was done I collapsed where I was, exhausted and unusually silent. The silence worried her. She came to check on me. The cubicle door was open. I fear she saw more than she bargained for. The poor thing is likely still flagellating herself. Once she’s done with the hair shirts she’ll at least have a good story.