Villafruela is a small village approached from the south to a crossroads. No signs. No signals. No sign of life. High up on moorland, not a bar on my phone to be had. An old lady heading towards me taking her morning constitutional, quietly minding her own business to the song of the birds, was about to encounter the ‘lost British tourist’.
Choosing to avoid the more direct and, no doubt, less interesting faster carriageway to Burgos, I had worked out my route the previous night, listing the significant points that I would pass through on a scrap of paper, committing many of them to memory, and tucking the paper safely into my pocket.
‘Excuse me, which is the way to Iglesiarubia ?’ I asked in my best Spanish.
She looked at me incredulously. ‘There in the square,’ she said pointing over my shoulder. Behind me, rising between the houses, was the centuries old facade of the village church, its imposing bell tower peering over the village rooftops. Only an idiot could miss it. ‘No, no,’ I said, ‘Iglesiarubia’. Iglesiarubia was the next hamlet on my route but no matter how many times I asked the lady the only word she heard was ‘iglesia’ – church. ‘There, dimwit,’ I think she said, pointing, her gestures becoming increasingly elaborate with frustration.
Some parts of my brain were scrabbling frantically for the Spanish for ‘village’ . ‘Ah, what is it? What is it?’ they panicked. The part of my brain that knew the answer watched this merry dance smugly, refusing to proffer the answer until about 15 minutes later when it was too late. I gave up and thanked her and she sauntered off to tell her friends that she’d met a blind cyclist who couldn’t see the church.
I tossed a coin. Tossed again. Best of three. Took a soggy bite out of a floppy banana that had ripened in my back pocket, and best-guessed. Not my favoured approach. I was cycling, after all, and a few miles in the wrong direction is energy wasted. Sometimes you need a little luck.
……..so begins my new travel book, “Crossing Spain – wandering in the land of the bull” (with a spare of pants and a bike). The tales of my wanderings off the beaten track, on my bike, across this ancient land. It’s not just for cyclists either. You can skip the bike bit and enjoy a lighthearted informative read.
Give it a try. Available from Amazon books in ebook and paperback formats. I hope you enjoy it.