My feet and ankles are holding up, and The Camino has turned me into a rock star! Unfortunately, that rock star is Shane MacGowan before the dentists fixed his smile; Last night I bit on a carrot stick and broke a chunk off the crown on my upper central incisor. Perhaps it had something to do with the unshelled pistachios, hidden like land mines, in the mixed nuts that I was eating earlier. That’s the last time I try to “treat my body right,” by ordering a joyless, vegan, dinner with non-alcoholic beer. To compensate, I had sausages for breakfast at the convent (whose rabbits and chickens I have included in the photographs below), followed by deep-fried churros and hot chocolate at a bar by the bullring.
The road out of Granada features statues of famous people associated with the city, including the poet, Federico Lorca, whose play “Blood Wedding,” I read for A-Level Theatre Studies, and whose cheeky poem about a riverside tryst with a married woman was recited by Michel D’Auzon at this point in his journey along the same path.
In Dublin, the locals have irreverent names for their city’s public artworks (“The floozy in the jacuzzi,” for the Anna Livia monument; “The tart with the cart,” for Molly Malone). I wondered what labels they might produce for this street of statues – “The rhymer on the recliner,” “The Torero in the squaro?” Sadly for the Torero (Frascuelo), not everyone sees his achievements as heroic today. His detractors have daubed his head with blood-red paint.
I had a sense of leaving Rivendell today; exiting the realm of the Camino “elves,” who took care of me in Almeria and Guadix, and into new country. In contrast to the fairytale-road into Granada, the road out took me past the prosaic architecture of light industrial estates and exurbs all over the world – builders merchants, warehouses, wholesale stores, and chain restaurants. I saw no place where I wanted to stop for a break (and no need, since I was sipping water from a fancy “camelback,” reservoir that I’d purchased in Granada’s excellent Deportes Sherpa camping shop) until midday, when I ate the bread and ham from my rucksack in Atarfe’s shady park.
Along the route today, I saw the shells of unfinished apartments from the pre-crash construction boom, and the ghosts of abandoned industrial complexes. A sign after Atarfe alerted me to the remains of the Elvira Medina. I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise.
Yellow arrows to mark the Camino were few and far between, and my trusty app (Maps.me) showed my destination, but was unable to plot a walking route there. That’s because there really isn’t a walking route – As confirmed by a local shepherd, the best path for me to follow was along the railway – stumbling over track ballast, pushing through brambles, and occasionally balancing on the steep sides of the drainage channel between the high-speed line and the un-electrified track.
In short, today’s walk lacked the dramatic scenery and the comfortable paths that I had been enjoying before Granada. But I did see some cool stuff – an abseiling house painter, a huge mushroom on a tree trunk, a dog madly chasing a plastic bottle, and an insect that was cleverly disguised as a dead leaf. I wouldn’t have seen any of those things if I’d stayed at home.