M woke me up at 3am this morning to tell me that he was delighted to have been accepted for RAF flight school.
“Right, my love, two more paracetamol for you and no long walks; let’s get you well again first.”
So, I went for a run instead, setting off along one of the generally well signposted routes into the hills. The dew lay as heavy as rain, my ginger running stumbled to a walk up a river bed, me thinking that I’d lose both ankles if I didn’t slow down. The only flat surfaces were the largest rocks and they weren’t horizontal. Then, the path turned into a covered waterway (a llevada), which gave me an 18” concrete corridor on which to continue.
As the route twisted and turned through the valley, hills behind hills were obscured by low-lying mist, with forested peaks looming far above. It was lovely. It was isolated.
I am risk averse, as a rule. I don’t like taking unnecessary chances. Today, M and I had watched a whole host of people head up into the hills, (effortlessly) jogging along, so I was expecting more company than I found. My thoughts turned to whether this was a fools’ errand and whether I should just have done a road run. The tarmac surface above me was only a few meters away but there were 12 feet of thorn-thickets filling the distance and I didn’t fancy being torn to shreds. So, I plodded on, pulse rate higher than the exercise demanded.
As a precautionary measure, I held my water bottle securely in such a way that if the situation demanded, I could use it to butt the temples of a would-be assailant. It might, or might not have been an effective measure, but made me feel more secure.
So, why do I continue to make myself vulnerable in this way? Because if I don’t, then soon I won’t be able to. Fear is a powerful demotivator; its walls come silently sliding in until we’re boxed and unable to move. I don’t think this is particularly a gender issue, but I do know lots of women who feel the same way. Only by putting my back against one such barrier and pushing the opposite away with the soles of both feet, do I manage to keep going, to run, to climb, to walk. The alternative would be crushing.
And the route was uneventful. I eventually passed a few women (always in pairs…) coming back towards me and then the path abruptly ended. I found my way back to the road, discovered the beautiful new cycling path that’s being laid and ran on that until it too disappeared.
The rest of the day was pottering around the town with M. It’s a place of two extremes – either beautiful and well kept, or unfinished and slightly unkempt. One side of a street has beautiful block paving, the other has no paving at all, only rubble and signs that warn of workmen in roads which have no men and no work on going.
Our car park is still great, we’re undisturbed and don’t appear to be causing any disturbance. The occasional police patrol car circles the area but doesn’t stop or look for long.
The sunshine is glorious, it’s a cool 7 degrees in the shade, but if you stay under the bright yellow glow, it feels lovely. Coming back from my jog this morning, I heard familiar birdsong including pigeons, and the air felt like an early summer’s day at home. Yet here I am, living the unsuspected dream, camper-vanning in Europe and becoming accustomed to the differences that each town brings. Two weeks down tomorrow, “only”eight left to go. I am loving every day of this adventure.