2003-08-21

The Left Fork

I can't really say why I put all of my paints in my pack along with a sandwich, some cookies, and 3 liters of water and took the 3 oclock bus yesterday afternoon back to the city of Vejer. Also, I can't say why I walked down the hill and followed a highway sign directing me towards the town of Medina Sidonia, 26km away. These things I don?t know. However, if you should decide to do it yourself, along the roadside you will come across a caution sign with a picture of a bull on it. I suppose that it?s obvious what it means when you are driving in a car. However, if you?re on foot, it takes on some other interesting incantations. A few that came to my mind as I walked along were "Caution - Bulls are bigger than you", "Caution don?t wear bright colors like the color of your backpack" or simply "We apologize for any confrontation you might have with a large horned animal". These thoughts kept my attention as I scanned the landscape looking for the bulls. A few kilometers later, I followed the left fork. I didn?t have a map and the left fork seemed as good as the right fork. There was no sign indicating what was to the left or to the right. Most of the land was recently cut hay and the hay bales lay strewn across the hills like bars of gold tossed about on golden hills. The majority of the fields were fenced off with low, wire fences and a few were marked as hunting grounds. Others had fields of cattle grazing and yet another had a lonely tractor pacing back and forth. One of the fields with hay bales was not fenced off and had a nice view of the surrounding area. . Furthermore it seemed that it might offer the possibility of a place to sleep the night. I spent a few hours painting in the late afternoon sun and when the sun finally crept behind the hilltop, I moved my pack and my easel to flat spot on top the hill to stay the night. I ate my Serrano ham and Manchego cheese sandwich and a few cookies and enjoyed the darkening sky. As night came, the sky drifted from orange to lavender to blue. I laid a beach towel on top of some hay and put my sleeping bag on top of that. My folded T-shirt on top of my hiking boots made a marginal pillow. Across the valley, the lights of Vejer shown and in the other direction a dog barked incessantly at a cow that mooed back in complaint. I can?t remember the last time I laid out under the milkyway alone. The innumerable fiestas in C diz seeming to blur all of that time into one. And on a night like this, time stops for a while. And sometime late in the early marning, I drifted off to sleelp. Sitting up with the sun cresting over the hill, I ate a can of fruit salad and I watched as a man made hiw across the neighboring field on his horse until he was fairly near. He dismounted and climbed over the low wire fence. I shook hands and bid him good marning and he looked at my painting from the day before without comment. I asked if it was safe to go into the neighboring fields which were designated for hunting because that was where I was hoping to paint. He assured me that it was fine - just be careful of the hunters. He rode off and I packed up, climbed the fence and headed into the valley where I painted for the morning. Before noon, I had hiked back out and caught the 12:30 bus from Vejer back to Cadiz.