Chapter 21: What a pilgrim learns, besides tall grass

It’s that pilgriming season, and foreigners with great gear get-ups can be seen strolling through Cáceres taking in the uncontextual glory of the Old Town. It’s the Sunday after Womad and there’s only one waitress at the café patio full of foreigners, poor thing.


Purple, orange, yellow, tan, red, green and white move in thrusts and throws across the grassy hills around the little mountain. High and dry, the scorched blades sift the wind of its momentum. Fidgeting insects make the most of the abundantly flowing scents. The flies, however, monger in the rare shade where spring sap has left the bronze bricks below sugary and glistening.

The church atop the little mountain remains as it always does: quiet, spacious, full of potential, wearing an anachronism for a mask, contoured by reworked gold lines that highlight the pervasive white making use of whatever light may enter the one small door at the back, and – late 1700’s baroque shrines captured in moments of plain angelic flourish.

<The palm trees in the park still give me that strange sensation. That feeling of curious doubt, the “This ain’t Kansas” one. Somehow, it feels so foreign, still to be around palms. They seem as real and natural as dinosaurs in this Extremaduran climate.>

Everything else, however, had been extracted to it’s fullest; devouring experiments until it all became routines and predictables. While not being a mistake, it certainly was culdasacking up into a pressure zone forcing winds towards a new direction.

The enjoyable tests, experiments, adventures, and difficulties had brought about healthy changes. Like an exact compensation for natural weakness and reservations, Spain brought about some long-overdue accomplishments on that personal To-Do web. Yet, having overcome them has left the place feeling rather depleted.

The long, trickling flow of the waterway in Prince Park continues carrying the debris of seeds and heads of heavy roses near roaring fountains. One walks the path watching the brickway pass between a sine-wave-as-estimated-by-zig-zag-line and concentric-redbrick-ripple-imitations.

Laying down on the bench, Huckleberry recovers a lost past-time whose formerly alotted time was spent learning new Spanish things and new personal skills; but, the time to enjoy daydreaming beneath a tree on a bench has returned.

Birds pulsate above and shake bugs from their vantage, skydiving towards Huck’s sunglasses. During the jump they eclipse the light of the sun that flows so effortlessly through the thick leaves of a strangely broad leaf full tree.

<A few Acquisitions from this year:

1. Assertiveness.

2. A greater understanding of what I view to be my weaknesses; in particular, observing patterns of judgement towards other people. A long period of time to work with these understandings.

3. Experience learning from a culture that is fundamentally anti-thetical to my upbringing; then, figuring out what I want to do with that information.

4. Perceiving with ever greater clarity the interaction between opposing communicative norms.

5. Getting a heads up from countless new experiences that have revealed and reiterated things that I do want and, more importantly, things that I don’t want. It’s been a good re-assessment of Values.

6. How to deal with daily patronization and then not further enabling said presumptuous or misinformed arrogance. Learning that Western Europeans are generally gullible enough to believe what their media tells them about people from United States and the frightening repercusions of their religious faith in said empirically unjustified beliefs. Also, dealing with the sad fact that this is the most “American” place I’ve ever lived.>

“Great narratives execute merciless honesty while they intertwine presentations of the good with the bad. Too much of one or the other and we find sincerity absent, and the story – fiction or nonfiction – becomes tiresomely unbelievable.”  (From, The Suggestion Box)

Gnats cloud up and children run in frantic joy ahead of their parents. The sunset distracts Hucklberry as it illuminates certain tree trunks, and not others. “This one!” and “This one!” All of them standing proud, guns blazing before another dusk. A black lab rushes over next to the drinking fountain, the expression of his joyful face testifies that there, right there!, is the perfect place to shit. By the looks of it, he can barely wait. The main fountain keeps reaching for the clouds. Its effort comes in spurts, each failure fueling the next  courageous reach. Two teenage boys leisurely drink a litrona of beer unaware of their contextual social freedom awarding such an event in the park with the title, “unproblematic” by the families strolling by. White headed grasses bring the hill alive creating transparent washes of light and disappearing streaks of shadow. The absence of the 10 a.m. rainbow of the third fountain rings like a bell. A boy lays down, distracted from the ennui resulting from captivity in a newly deemed “Regular and Familiar” territory between completion of one project, and the engagement of another. Having completed all the quests, all that remained were replays of old events. That was the fantasy effect of the sunset at work. Aleatorically arising metaphors do as they please mischieviously in that strange light. They attach to anything, just to see how it fits.

The bench supports a new weight, surrounded by a choir of colorul flowers singing a playful parody on the difference between pilgrims and misfits. The ending, of course, arrives at a place where those words are irrelevant.

A final howl of gold pulls back across the scene and the tall grass stills in the presence of the night sky.

The dog leaves, satisfied. The children follow their parent-pilgrims out unenthusiastically, for they know that rules-and-can’s-and-can’ts await. The adolescents and their litrona move on. The trees take a rest from their performance. The third fountain gets anxious in anticipation, it’s always one step closer to refraction. The main fountain gets time alone from the public, to practice its craft. Gnats search for the breeze. Forgetting Regular and Familiar, eveningdreams chant in soft exhales on a bench near the retiring flowers.

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