El Baston

One of the traditional instruments of the pilgrim is the baston.  (That should have an accent on the o.)  It is basically a walking stick, to help pass the miles, but is also recommended as protection against local dogs.  In my experience, the dogs of Spain have not been at all a threat.  The aggressive ones along the Camino are all tied, and sleepy farm dogs are fun companions when they are not working.

I have flirted with the idea of finding a baston, but had not yet found one that I liked, and have decided that I will only carry one if the universe sends it to me.

This morning I was walking along a deserted path through some sleepy farms.  I had already passed several dogs sitting out, shivering a little in patches of sunlight.  Down the road towards me came trotting an interesting pair.  A giant white hound of some sort loped along, while beside it an equally white Chihuahua-type trotted along.

The big fella reached the fence, squeezed through the hole they are clearly accustomed to using, and watched me through droopy eyes as I walked past.  Same as a hundred other times.

The Chihuahua was a little more unusual.  It stood in the path, looking at me through its buggy eyes and shivering.  I lived with a Chihuahua last winter who I quickly grew to adore, so I smiled at the little guy and kept on.

As I passed him my foot scuffed a stone.  The Chihuahua flipped out.  He started barking and growling.  Kind of comical until the big white hound took up the mood, slipped through the fence, and advanced on me, head down, eyes no longer droopy.

There alongside the path was a fallen branch twice my height.  I put a foot on it and pulled up the edge, breaking off a piece about 5 feet long and reasonably firm despite having lain on the wet ground for however long.

I backed away with it in hand and the dogs watched me go, growling and following, but slowly.  Soon I left them behind (though they watched me until I was well down the road) and I set to the pleasant task of learning to walk with my new baston.