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Madness and Miracles in Central France

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No, we really have to review and replace the schemes of 'our leadership' and the scheming of those who manipulate it so much to their interest and so much against that of the rest of us. 

So anyway, onward. Two hours to Limoges, and Toulouse 300 kms. beyond until, turning west, the sky hangs curtains of crimson in the dusk. And then even San Sebastian showing on the motorway menu if you can only stay in lane! That is almost home! But, venture or stray, and you are lost again.

And then, in passing through San Sebastian, with Bilbao and even Burgos in the offing – disaster! – the fuel gauge suddenly shines, showing only two bars, so that I have to pull off and look for a filling station.

City Life

At the far end of town I find one, but already closed half an hour ago. But the Christian man puts in 20€ - I hope. The hotel he indicates is closed. Another, at the end of a kilometre walk with bag, will reopen on Jan 2nd. On the way back I pass a car with its doors open, a hop-head at the door. A shadow follows mine. I turn to see hop-head at my shoulder with the face of a predatory beast. I look at him seriously, a hand out to ward him off, and he mutters that he is trying to find his daughter, and I go on. I return to the car, thinking that perhaps I can sleep in it, but a car circles up, youths looking for the loot they need for ‘their lifestyle’, and I think I can better drive.


Again, in leaving a place, the problem is to find a way out. In the city there are no stars to show me my direction. No, the ‘stars’ of the city are only to mislead others. So I go. Then I am at a monastery at the top of a mountain, and the only way is down again. I go to the next most distant name I can find, and at its extremity find the sign for Burgos. So I go for it. Well, so what, after I pay, the girl at the toll booth tells me the motorway to Vitoria and Burgos is closed? I can try for it. So I try. Again, if you miss a single lane you are lost. So at one stage, having missed a lane, I am on top of a coiling spiral of wrong lanes and the only way down is deliberately out into the country.

So then there I am, out in the country with a motorway shimmering past in the distance at perhaps two in the a.m. So I turn about and try again.

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Dead motorway

Venturing down an unmarked lane I come to a curious situation. In front of me is a dead motorway. I enter it, but there is no life and no light. Clearly I am on a motorway under construction, and I even back out of it for fear of illegality. But then I wonder where it leads, and venture in again and, with my lights on, immediately its signs spring into life.

And so I go – ahead are Palencia and Valladolid and Madrid. Well, enough for now Palencia and hope. There is fog, dense enough with cars now streaming up and past at 60 – my clock is in m.p.h., and I am doing fiftyish, but mostly they stream past, except for the tiddlers who sit close on my tail and won’t shift. There is always someone, sitting there, on through the murk, hour after hour. I am talking to myself again. It is a matter of driving between two sets of lines, hoping that nothing lies in the middle. That’s what the others must be doing, but faster. So far so good.

Then the mist thins. I stop once to fill up – only seventeen litres, so the gauge last night pulling me off the motorway was a shameless lie. Finally, I realise I am going to sleep, and am looking for somewhere I can stop before I go off the road or hit something.

I park in front of a closed restaurant, the woman just arriving to open up. When I wake the sky is lightening. And I am fresh enough to continue. I am thirsty, but dare not risk another apple. Not after – yesterday was it?

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Beyond Palencia the snowy mountains of Leon are spectacular. But I do not think the name of Leon is right, and do not dare try to remember. But Ourense shows on its future menu as N-120, with La Coruña as N-6. So I join it, and even go for ten kms. before I realise that N-120 is no longer showing. Cursing, I stop, leave the motorway and return to Leon. I park and stagger up to ask two men. The ground is thrumming under my feet. Oh, they say, you were on the right motorway, but it divides a little further on.

And so it does, about 3 kms. beyond my returning point.

So then onward for Ourense. Through Astorga and Ponferrada, always looking for the next objective. Then I swear that I enter some of the valleys of the Sil half a dozen times, first going up, then down, first in one direction, then in reverse – It is a madness, an exhausting madness. But then only ‘90 to Ourense’. Nearly there. No, the Sil is long yet. That was only Quiroga. And that was Monforte de Lemos. Perhaps I can come off at Ourense . . . But then only another 100, it assures me.

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Aged beyond belief, with a fund of experience that few could challenge and fewer envy, and with the wealth of information and expertise that goes with it, the author is a lifelong specialist in differentiating between reality and unreality. (more...)

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Thank you for your gorgeous writing, your funny st... by Jennifer Hathaway on Sunday, Jan 4, 2009 at 10:09:50 PM
Thanks for your comment, Jennifer.  Unsurpris... by Keith Pope on Monday, Jan 5, 2009 at 2:04:56 AM