It was another 80* day with blue skies as we began walking our Camino. As we were walking along the side of the road just out of Italica, an old man in a small truck honked and pulled to the side of the road. We had just seen him do this to Judy, an Australian Pilgrim who was just ahead of us. Assuming he had something helpful and of great significance to tell us, like the road was under construction and there was a detour that was not clearly marked, I stopped at his open car window. Tiny and shrunken, he whispered something in a raspy voice like it was his dying breath. I motioned to my ear indicating that I could not hear him and he waved me closer. I leaned into the “caro”, getting my pack stuck and knocking my hat off in the process, as I listened intently. He mumbled some more and as I leaned closer I heard the word “Beso“, or kiss. As I started to retreat he grabbed my arm in a vise like grim, be lying his status as a near invalid. As I tried in vain to exit the window, he told me to “entrada el coache”, or get in the car. I don’t think so! Pervert Alert! I told him I am married and pointed to my wedding ring. Unfazed, and not relinquishing his iron grip, he somehow managed to pant a kiss on my cheek and stroke my arm. Where did that other hand come from? I don’t want to know! Desperately I blurted out the most ridiculous thing in bad Spanish, “Mi esposo is muy grande! Es muy fuerte y tormentoso!” This sort of means, ” My husband is right behind us and really big . He is strong and has a stormy personality!” He released me quickly and we continued on our way laughing.
We soon crossed under the freeway and were in rolling hills and lovely farm country. The farm land is very rich, and men are out on their John Deere tractors tilling and planting. I understand they grow acres of sunflowers and cotton here, so that may have been what they are planting. In other fields, The wheat is already about 8 inches tall and a bright green carpet on the rolling hills. It was very warm walking but the color of blue in the skies is so intense that I would not want it any other way. We saw our first storks of the journey circling above an area of wetlands. Small black winged, white birds with long orange legs fished along the edges of the marsh. In the mud by the stream we saw a perfect paw print of a rare, endangered Iberian Lynx.
This morning’s walk was just over 8 miles to a little whitewashed town called Guillena. We had entered town by a different route than our guide book described due to a washed out trail. A nicely dressed man offered to show us to the Hostal Frances where we were going to stay. It was getting to be such a long distance that I began wondering if he was another pervert. Just then a short, round Senora eyed us suspiciously and began talking to him. Looking very uneasy and beginning to sweat, he proclaimed, ” I am taking these 2 Pilgrims
to their hostal! Tell my wife I will be home soon! Nice to see you, Maria!” Satisfied, she waddled off and we proceeded much more quickly onward. He delivered us to our door as promised, bowed, and wished us a Buen Camino.
We wandered through the delightful old section of town and found a good looking local bar for lunch. There were all these cured hams hanging everywhere, and the owners were very friendly because we were trying so hard to learn how to say the name of their little town correctly. We ate huge ham and cheese bacadillas, or sandwiches, accompanied by a beautiful local wine, as we were tutored by the entire bar full of patrons on how to correctly pronounce “Guillena”. I would say it exactly like he did and he would patiently say , “No Senora, Guee Jee NA!”, and I would say it again perfectly. He would patiently say No Senora, Guee Jee NA …… around and around we went with everyone contributing to my lesson. I finally got it right but I still don’t know what I said differently. We had a very jolly time and then proceeded directly to siesta!
So how do you know who the good guys are and who the perverts are? My philosophy is to stay open, smile, and try to interact with anyone I can on a positive basis. I listen hard to understand some of their language and respond as well as I can in my very basic Spanish. The one thing that does not change is the smile on my face and the sincerity that I hope projects from my heart to them. They love the fact that you are trying. It is a miracle every time that I get to see how wonderful, helpful, sincere, and fun the Spanish truly are. Once in a while you encounter a bad guy, just like in any society. You do have to be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to your intuition. But would I miss all the interaction with the great people because I am afraid to smile? Not on your life!
Distance from Italica/Santiponce to Guillena= 7.2 miles
Actual Distance walked= 12.15 miles
Accomodations= Hostal Bar Frances, main street toward the end of Guillena, only a moderately nice room above the bar for an incredibly expensive 46 Euro for a double room. (Included breakfast of 1 piece of toast and 1 cup of coffee) We were told by the people here that there is a nicely remodeled municipal Albergue here now the church, which would be worth checking out if we had not already paid at the hostel Bar Frances. Albergue photo from Karl Martin Nagl, Germany: