THE OTHER CAMINO
A BLOG ABOUT POSSIBILITIES
I’m sitting on a bit of the sea wall looking out at the beach in Manorbier, Wales. Will took a hike up to see something or other—I already forget, but he’ll tell me when he returns. The beach is covered with patches of red, blue and gray stones—I’ve sorted a few for my mom, matron of our rock-loving family.
There are dogs everywhere, on and off leash, in and out of the water. Very pale sunbathers—how will they walk away without a nasty burn?
Will is coming down now, a faint moving blur in his Last Podcast on the Left shirt, growing bigger as he approaches.
The wedding is over, although so many of us—Americans mostly, but Brits, too, are staying around for another day, so it seems like we’re still celebrating. It was the most beautiful wedding I’ve ever been to, and partly I wonder if I can now hang up my hat where weddings are concerned, if I can send regrets and just be done with it, as surely this was a high water mark for human achievements in the category of weddings.
Later, at Barafundle Bay
The fun thing—or one of—about having a bad knee is the limitations you suddenly discover.
I overheard several people saying that there was a beautiful walk to Barafundle Bay with steep stairs and a better beach view, and the scene began to play out in my head. Me walking too slowly, the group hanging back out of politeness, Will looking over his shoulder impatiently. I could feel my heart rate as I descended the steps, the fear that this would be the time my knee didn’t hold, that it would crumple beneath me and I wouldn’t be able to walk and it would take a team to carry me back to the car park (I’m even thinking in UK terms) and somehow a helicopter would have to and on this remote corner of the world, and I would have to stay in a UK hospital and then a rehab hospital for weeks (which fortunately, due to the NHS, might not cost me an arm and a leg).
So I said I would stay behind.
There’s a small, rocky beach here with rowboats and kayaks and cheerful people in wetsuits, one that doesn’t take an hour to hike to, and doesn’t require navigating steep steps. Farther out, there’s a towering seawall with a dozen or so teenagers jumping and diving off, then climbing up the tethered ropes to do it again. Their taunts and laughter float back across the bay.
Maybe there are cats tucked away indoors, unseen—one surprised me at the inn, where it glared up at me from a cat-fur covered couch cushion—but it would appear that Wales is a dog country. Everyone has one, and most are of the small-to-medium sized variety and of indeterminate breed. (The exception would be the Irish Wolfhound we saw stalking through the streets of Tenby with its scruffy-haired human at its side.) To a one, the dogs are remarkably well-behaved.
As I’m writing this, at a picnic bench in a lovely garden by the path to the bay, there’s a sweet dog curled under a neighboring bench, and the feet of a young couple eating a picnic out of a reusable bag that said I KNOW MY ONIONS, except the Os were all pictures of different kinds of onions. The dog—and its humans—looked blissfully happy.
Apparently although it is socially acceptable to visit a beautiful spot in the world and stare mindlessly at one’s cell phone screen, it is less acceptable to sit by oneself on a picnic bench writing in one’s journal. This observation is the result of several strange looks and one very pointed stare I received.
A tiny bird with a black undercarriage and yellow neck and feathers landed next to me, fixed me with a curious stare—what on earth was I doing, and why was I doing it?—and flew off.
Paula Treick DeBoard