From the train station to the Trujillo highway was a 2.7 mile hike through the middle of town. Along the way, I noticed the Ku Klux Klan was alive and festive in Cáceres. Was this to scare away any stray Moors still in hiding after 1492? And, as always from high above, I imagined Jesus was scowling down on me, warning all trespassers that he was protecting his people from foreign invaders. Ominous signs for today's outing...


For 12 hours with protruding thumb, El Sol was my Gran Inquisidor presiding over a desolate highway vanishing into an arid bleakness — desconocido, incomprensible, indiferente, arrollador, omnipresente — like Heidegger's big blob of Being... As the day dragged into late afternoon, parents picked up their daughters from la escuela de niñas nearby at what is now a major university. A few fathers eyed me suspiciously, but no one came to my rescue. Did they know what a thumb meant?


I cannot, of course, really blame them for their caution; these were the last days of Generalísimo Francisco Franco, caudillo tyrant of Spain for 36 years, under whom all Spaniards lived in a cloud of constant fear. Americans don't know what that's like. I wish to think the curses I spat out this day during my prolonged and heated desert stand had something to do with his demise soon after, and that he rests uncomfortably in the Valley of the Fallen for all the lives he destroyed. But does it harm us to think so ill of the dead? Probably. So I take it all back. But then again, Picasso does not let us forget Guernica .


June days are long in Spain. What does one think about standing interminably out in the middle of nowhere? When the future is unknown, the past returns to give us hope. Five summers before I was standing in a hot Oregon desert with a bag of fermenting bananas and a cardboard sign that read New York City. The bottom fell out of the bag, the liquified bananas splattered to the pavement, and cowboys rode by laughing at my predicament. I tossed the bag and laid down the sign. Within a few minutes a small car carrying three fellow travelers stopped and gave me a ride all the way to New York City... But today was not Oregon, and no one stopped. I have not always been a cordial passenger. Perhaps this was Carma?


After all the little girls had been rounded up and hauled away, and the SEAT's dwindled on the old one lane highway, I crawled away defeated, back to la estación de tren, bought a ticket to Madrid 300k eastward, and arrived there in the dark. Looked about for a cama y desayuno B&B . Somehow found a narrow room in a family's apartment renting for around $2.50 per night. Although not quite El Palacio Real, it provided shower, coffee, and bagle. Never cared for coffee and bagles, but the shower was a necessity. Thus, ended one of the worst of these 100 days.