Thursday, September 19, 2013 Waking up in Rabe de las Calzadas seems easy. A small room with four bunk beds does not engender sleeping late, so I decide to suck it up (for the sake of my Meseta travels today) and get out of bed and packed while it’s still dark outside. I don’t have my headlamp with me, but in those close quarters, no one is sleeping anyway, so the overhead lights are on early.
I have paid once again for a 3 Euro Desayuno, because the posters in the entry to the alberge say “LARGE BREAKFAST”. Maybe we’ll have eggs . . . or even oatmeal . . . or dried corn flakes . . . but what do we have? Cafe con leche and bread with jam and butter. Ah, sigh. We do also have juice, but that does not make the breakfast so large. Maybe the sweet woman means that you can have as LARGE a basket of bread as you would like.
No point in trying to change the world. Today is my Meseta day, and as I walk out of Rabe, I take a few photos of doors, little stone buildings, and the pre-dawn landscape. It is gorgeous and I’m ready with lots of water, though Hornillos is only about 7 km from where I begin, and there is sure to be a bar there.
Out of town, I watch the road and see something dead center. From afar it looks like a deceased crow or something, but as I get closer, I see that it is one lone Keene Sandal, sort of lime green. I pick it up, because someone will be very unhappy to find that they now will have only one foot with an alternative shoe.
As people pass me (I’m a slow mo, enjoying things), I tell them,” Here is a lost shoe. As you encounter people on the way to Hornillos, ask them if they’ve lost a shoe and tell them I will be along at some point to return it to its owner.”
I am hoping against hope that I can reunite shoe with owner, and continue my mantra as people pass me. With my mind on this mission, the meseta goes by with ease. Maybe it would have done so anyway, because the weather is quite cool (perhaps in the mid-50’s), the landscape is a climb and then flat, and I’m having an easy time of it. I see Hornillos ahead, and as I enter the town, I stop in the first Alimentnacion I see. Three women are there.
“Did you lose a shoe?” I hold up my find. Nope, no one lost a shoe. The owner of the little store tells me to put the shoe on a bench outside. I do so, but then hear voices down the street, around the corner. Perhaps a bar. I pick up the shoe and walk on.
Same scenario. “Has anyone lost a shoe?” Nope, no one lost a shoe, but they all remark on the number of people who have come through town telling them about me, an oldish peddler of lost footwear. Still, no takers. I sigh, hold up the shoe and say, “I’m going to leave it right here,” and begin to walk toward another bench.
Behind me I hear someone say, “Hey, Nancy! Isn’t that your shoe?” One of the women who had been in the chorus of the shoe denial song glances at her backpack to find, lo and behold, there is only ONE Keene Sandal hanging from the outside.
It is the woman from last night, the one who told me the milagro is for me. California Nancy, a very pretty blond, whose happiness now exceeds most of what I’ve seen thus far on this trip. She shrieks! “It’s mine, it’s mine! Oh, THANK you! Oh my GOD!” Actually this would be my response as well, but I wouldn’t be as tall. And I’d still look like Polly Darton. I reunite her with her shoe, and she insists that her friend take a photo of the three of us (Nancy, me, and the shoe) before buying me a . . . cafe con leche.
I feel incredibly accomplished about all of this. Somehow this is just the kind of thing that should happen on the Camino . . . a small kindness that brings a large dose of gratitude . . . and I feel as though my day is complete,,, After all, I’m halfway across the Meseta AND I don’t have to carry the weight of another ounce, let alone shoe, to the other part of this desert-like section of the way.
I depart jauntily, free of the weight of the shoe, and free of the conversation in my head about alternative possibilities for the poor owner. Moving to the next section of meseta, toward Hontanas, I call the Albergue Santa Brigida there to reserve a room, sure that I will be exhausted and exhilarated (again) after conquering this high wheatfield-strewn road.
Actually, the Meseta is more lovely than I had read, and easier than I thought it would be. The sun is shining, which took care of one of my fears . . . that it would be pouring rain. Some climb, sure, but I’m getting used to that. Bushes are nowhere in sight, but now I have piles of rocks in case of an emergency. I love rocks. And occasionally the angle of my view creates weird rock/trees like this.
As I move past this strange image, seeing it reshape itself into reality, a TREE, AND a rock pile . . . with windmills in the background (I love windmills as well . . . ) I’m smiling again, or still. I’m on the Meseta, I can see the end and my little town of Hontanas, where a bed awaits me. I’ve done it!
There is a courtyard in back, where people are relaxing, writing in journals, washing and hanging out their clothing. The bunk rooms have enormous floor spaces between the beds, which is quite unusual.
I have a bit of a wi-fi glitch here, because I put in the wrong password and asked my computer to save it. Then of course I can’t get on the internet, and no matter what I do, my computer does not want to delete that incorrect password. So I try a breathing meditation, reminding myself that on the Meseta, one does not need to be connected to the outside world. One merely needs to be connected to the Mesa. My right brain soothes my nearly hysterical left brain, convincing it that multicolored laundry hanging in the breeze is quite enough visual stimulation after having conquered the wheatfields, walking the inclines and declines of the Meseta, and that tomorrow I will be in a new town with a new password for a new connection. All will be well.
At our dinner table tonight are Martin (German), a Brit whose name I am sorry I can’t remember, Mark from Tennessee (I think), Patrick and Denise (Oregon), and Patrick’s French niece, who is walking with her uncle and aunt for a week before returning to France until next year.
The Paella is excellent, as tasty as it is lovely, and according to Brierley’s diagrams, the Meseta is past me now. Aren’t I good? I smile all the way to sleep and into tomorrow morning.