baena – castro del rio



Day 17: 20 km’s

Today’s reflection: Only fruit that is ripe falls from the tree/ Slow down to feel the world……….



💚 Today we carried on, moving deep into never-ending olive territory. It was an easy day, 20 kms, reasonably flat, and apart from a bit of an awkward silence from the arrows heading out of town, once we got to the outskirts, they started up piping up again, leading the way (fairly) cheerfully…….I have to say though, that there were moments on this camino today where they disappeared altogether only to reappear with no explanation half an hour later, and by that I mean that there did not appear to be any kind of coherent visual link that could possibly take you from the last arrow you saw to the next one. I was left wondering what would happen if I didnt have Walter and his written description to fill in the gaps? Oh well, there is always google, hey Diana? Someone needs to write a proper guide! Something really detail-oriented along the lines of “…walk exactly 57 metres and turn left and walk along the rusted fence with the hole in it….” or “… the dilapidated white villa with the barking dogs, ignore all side trails and keep walking straight….”. Anyway, for now, I move comfortably thanks to my walking partner. It is situations like this that highlight an uncomfortable disadvantage to walking alone.

So many olive trees! I have nothing better to do as I walk, so I start to focus my thinking on the trees, the sounds of the harvest, and the feeling of the earth underfoot. We stop for a while to watch some guys shaking the living daylights out of a tree with the vibrating thingy, they are also thrashing about manually with sticks just for good measure. Olives are dropping easily off the tree onto the black net below, ready to be transported. Still, even with all the mechanical vibrating and the energetic thrashing, and despite all the desire in the world manifest in glistening sweat on foreheads and in armpits- some of those olives just wont shake loose. There is nothing to be done. My mind immediately jumps to the olives that stay behind-what happens to them? If they arent ready to fall, then they just arent ready! Like thoughts and ideas and projects, they need more time to mature, to ripen. Despite the application of technology and the grand scope of olive production in this region, and the very human desire to control, to produce, and to compete -nature still dictates. If the fruit isnt ripe, best to leave it on the tree until it is ready to fall of its own accord. There is learning in this for me.

This journey is slow simply because of the length of time and space that I propose to cover on this walk, and because by walking it instead of getting a train or a bus or a plane, I am acting in direct resistance to the (temporal and spatial) economies of the ways we are socially conditioned to travel. To keep the smile on my face, patience is thus something that must be woven into the daily experience of my footsteps, and I am finding that it serves me very well to do so. The olives falling from the tree teach me to extend my patience into my own thinking and the development of my ideas and projects. To have faith in natural processes. A question I have been asked many times when walking (by people who havent yet tried this for themselves, I think) is “….But, dont you get bored?”. No, on the contrary, I feel like these moments that I traverse with my feet are densely promising fields of rich earth. So many things come to mind in these thought fields that I/we wander through when we walk mindfully. Ripe ideas are jostled by movement and are able to fall free from their structures, ready for conscious consumption, whilst at the same time, the seeds of ideas are planted as each moment passes and the sensorial body engages with its surroundings in different, unexpected ways. The trick is to know when to just leave things be, when to put the vibrating mechanism away, so they can mature and ripen, ultimately giving you the sweetest, richest fruit.

The slowness of movement is remarkable in the ways it imprints experience and understanding through the senses. Right now, olives and the production of olive oil have taken on a whole new significance for me. I feel it through the sounds of the vibrating tree branch thingy, the voices of workers shouting above its steady hum and the barking of the dogs that are having a field day with all the action. I see it in the gnarled tree trunks, on the tanned skin of the people working in the fields, and in the rich dark hues of the clumps of olives waiting on tree branches to be harvested. I smell it in the earth. I feel it in the soft dense dustiness of the soil the trees grow in. Kilometres and kilometres of olive groves, and the slowness of my movement through them, bring home the importance of olive oil to the people of this area, and further contextualises the thing that I consume almost every day. I will now experience olive oil in a different way. This is one of the gifts of walking and slowing down to be in the world, to feel, in this world 💚



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