Facing death by Beethoven and Babe.
I was singing the cheery song from my last post (the one about not dying from contaminated water) yesterday when I came upon another one of the tiny towns that dot the camino. They are generally beautiful and tragic interludes. Villages too small to have a post office, where you rarely see any sign of life, maybe an old woman wandering around or leathery man sitting in the shade who responds to your “buenos dias” with a raspy voice so heavily dialected that you can’t understand the words even though you know what they are.
A lot of the houses are empty shells, roofs caved in, doors padlocked shut with heavy chain or missing entirely, and it is likely there are neglected farm implements rusting away in the alleys or behind houses. It seems to me that all the children leave these towns for the cities as soon as they are able, and you are left with these ghost towns; the only steps in the streets are the passing strides of pilgrims and the shuffling scrape of the elderly. I can only imagine the stillness of the ones off the pilgrimage routes.
So, like I said, normally I find these towns beautiful and tragic, and I have to resist the urge to whip out the camera to take pictures of every decrepit doorway and lined face. This one was different. The village was literally about six houses long, less than 100 meters, with no sign of human life visible, but a surplus of canine life in the street. Snarling, growling, barking canine life. How can half a dozen houses have more than a dozen street dogs? And why are they all so pissed?
My first response was to back my weary pilgrim butt out of town, where I waited until they calmed down, then tried again. I admit my heartbeat was faster the second time, and as soon as I made it through my second response kicked in, which was anger. What the hell, man! This is a shit town ON the Camino de Santiago, and they leave their dozen bloodthirsty hounds in the street?
Anyway, there’s not really a point to this story, I just wanted to tell you what I’ve been up to.
Oh, and when I backed out of town at first to let them calm down I stopped next to two houses, the first shattered and the second whole. I went up to the whole one to ask if the dogs were actually going to kill me and saw through the window the refrigerator door hanging open, rusting, the cabinet doors decaying off their hinges, the floor covered with the detritus of an abandoned house. It was creepy. Then from the ruined one came deep grunting growling sounds. As I leaned over to pick up a couple stones to carry in my second attempt at crossing the town (just in case, you know?) I straightened to find myself face to face with the largest pig I have ever seen.
Normally this would have been cute, but with a little animal-induced adrenalin already in my system all I could think of what that part in Hannibal where the pigs are eating people’s faces. I gotta stop watching movies, man.