It was a Friday night, as I recall, when reports arrived at the Fang & Feather about a gang of young men smoking pot and hanging around in the darkness near Pabellón Valioso.
Behold, Juniperus Perditor Mundi: Destroyer of Worlds. Gaze upon her name with wonder, for she is tearing First Mountain down, and there is nothing anyone can do to stop her.
There are two boys from the Valley who sometimes take a shortcut through La Mancha. The other day I saw them meandering down Gallagher Lane, talking and laughing and jostling. Stones were thrown into the Valley. Rocks were turned over for examination and discussion. En garde was proclaimed, followed by a brief sword fight with sticks.
I keep thinking about Foxy Brown’s den, which I found on one of my walks and greatly admire. You’ll find it at the end of the gulley that plunges into the Deep Valley behind Engelbrecht Inn.
A madman dives from the bow of Dulcinea into the valley below, arms outstretched, eyes closed, plummeting silently through the canopy of treetops like a skydiver passing through clouds.
There is a sword embedded in the wall of the Tower. If you stand near the lions on the Causeway and look up, this sword points to North Star. I wandered over to the sword and looked down upon the Fang & Feather, Welcome Center, Spence Manor, and the rest of the Village.
It is difficult to imagine a thing with less value in the Land of La Mancha than a rock.
The pilgrimage involves two acts of physical discomfort. These are not acts of penance. You are not being judged for things that happened before you were born. You are embracing discomfort so that your soul can understand why our culture remains at odds with creation.
I was hiking deep in the northern part of the valley, down near my humble place of beginning. My eye was drawn to a smooth river rock lying near a jagged limestone outcropping. We have gullies but no rivers in La Mancha. There are no smooth rocks native to this land.
The rock’s story isn’t hard to guess.
I walked the Camino late at night, hoping to find her eating bugs at the lights. But there was no sign of her. I was in denial for a time. I told myself you can’t plan for a fox. You run into them when you run into them. Perhaps, I told myself, I’d just had a run of bad luck.