Christina Coates

The Mesa – the road to Formista (from Christina’s Camino, a work in progress)

I had walked a long and bitter road that day. The morning tasted like gravel – little bits of it on my tongue; it ground against my teeth, and my tongue breathed dust. My shoes kept filling with the little white stones and I had to stop often to free them. Eventually I just kicked my foot into the dry air to dislodge them. Some left. Others stayed. I hobbled on – the road a long white blistering belt. Whatever trees that may have been had left – the disgust with the place was felt by the grass too – the fields looked like the badly shorn cheeks of the old men in the village; stalky stubble of hard straw. The village itself offered no respite – only a stinky bar was open. I stumbled in, throwing my pack to the filthy floor, asking for the servicos. The lumpen black-clad woman growled her direction. I walked past her to a latrine that should have been banned.

All afternoon the cruel white road stretched out under the blazing sun. I aimed towards a sole tree – a measly palm and fell under it to drink from my heated water bottle. I must have fallen asleep – and begun a dream – a strange pale dream of falling stones. They changed into feathers and tickled my nose; for when I opened my eyes two angels were standing there over me. They offered me cool water and when I looked up the sun had disappeared behind their wings. I drank and then rested in the welcome shade. When I awoke again white butterflies, so common on the route, danced before me and led me to the next Refugio.

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