Walked: 23.5 Km (194.5 Km total)
I woke up in the morning and dreaded walking agricultural fields again. The forecast was a blistering 40°C and there’s little shade. I opened up google maps and saw that if I followed the Aragón and Cataluña irrigation channel, I’d have more greenery and there would be more interesting landscape.
An hour walking along the channel, a man in a car stopped by my side.
— “Good morning, where are you going?”
— “Hi, I’m headed to Monzón”
— “Are you a pilgrim?”
— “Yes I am”
— “You know you’re quite off the way?”
— “Yes I know, I’m just following the channel becuase the fields are boring”
— “Well, the channel goes through a tunnel up ahead”
— “But I can just walk through the road up those hills and rejoin it on the other side”
— “Well, there’s another way, but I’m not sure you’ll be able to do it with that backpack”, I could see his blue eyes glistening.
— “Do tell me about it”
— “The tunnel has a walkway, but it’s gated. You can climb around it, but you’re quite loaded there.”
We exchanged broad smiles of complicity, and then bid farewell. I saw the tunnel entrance up in the distance, there was no obvious way of reaching it. Through trial and error I came to it. It wasn’t what I had imagined. I’d have to hang over water, and was carrying my laptop inside. The structure didn’t look sturdy, but when I hung from it I felt that it was well soldered. Indeed, the task would have been much easier without my bulky backpack.
But I crossed over uneventfully. The passage was difficult, surely more than walking on the road, but it was worth the adventure. The space was so narrow I had to remove my backpack and carry it like a child, holding it over the handrail and over the water. At some point I was ankle deep in water because the water level was high.
This is not my first tunnel adventure and it always has the same effect: darkness within meets darkness without, and inner alchemy produces an emulsion sensitive to light and sound. Danger and length intensify the sensitivity of the emulsion. When you emerge to the other side, the world becomes much more beautiful and intense than it was when you entered. The mind quiets, and you appreciate once again what you were giving for granted: the color of the sky, a flower, the chirping birds, the scents of nature.