It was the round-abouts that sent us veering. You couldn’t drive the miles on all that newly paved gray without coming to the ease of a circle. To go straight required taking the bend of a half-moon and sometimes it felt that having to curve at all meant drifting away entirely.
So we followed sturdy signs to empty villages, parked on silent streets, watched backpackers jab the pavement with poking metal poles. They travelled El Camino de Santiago, or the way, we later heard it called by the Canadians who rolled their eyes, believing that the trek had become too popular because of a film we’d never heard of. I made a note to find the movie, to see it, to understand what was so compelling that people were desperate to take the ancient pilgrimage through a place we thought we’d simply stumbled upon.
Everything in Spain felt vaguely yellow and grey but Obanos was lemon, steeped in sun, hung out to dry against all the blue above. It was a version of the Old West, hazy and vivid at the same time, with the smoke of dirt under our feet but, no, it wasn’t dirt at all, just hot, smooth, yellow stone that looked like dirt that had been kicked up under hooves and there was the clip-clop sound of nothing or was it the swing of a saloon door but, of course not, because Obanos is stern masonry and brick and one medieval bell-tower that did not ring its fists at the sky.
We walked so as not to disturb. Peeked around the painted angles of each home. Passed the lipstick red blossoms in thick clay pots. Dared not follow the creep of technicolor vines. There was just one home in rounded, Easter pink. It’s arched windows and painted shutters slipped down the slope, made way for lush, eager green.
In my mind we saw no one or we did but it was like looking through. Like having to take a turn to go straight. Like knowing you were somewhere that never saw you.
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