You never know who you're going to meet when you go for a morning walk around here.
This morning the dog and I followed the St. Martin Triangle (nothing to do with Bermuda, btw) a little network of roads about 2 miles on each side. It's rolling country, all fields and trees and storks and hawks. Anything new and different stands out. The drilling rig and box truck caught my eye right away. Una and I made our slow way toward it, with our shadows striding long on the blacktop alongside and a field of sunflowers watching with wicked black faces. The truck was parked in a little strip of hayfield, alongside the Rio Templarios bridge. There were four men, working at something.
Men working is remarkable too, especially on St. James Day, a Spanish national holiday. I drew closer, said my "buenas dias" and watched while three of them manhandled what looked like a telephone pole into the upright chamber of the drilling rig. Strange. I asked the odd man what was up, after carefully framing my question in Spanish.
"Why are you drilling a well next to a river?" I said.
"Sorry. Don't speak a word of Spanish," the man answered, in accented English. He sounded Dutch.
"Netherlands?" I asked (in English.)
"South Africa," he said. "Name's Jim." He shook my hand. I told him I'm an American living nearby, and asked him again, in English, why they were drilling when there's already abundant water in the little river.
"Not drilling, miss. That's no water drill. We're geomancing. Me, I'm the geomancer, and these are my crew."
"Umm. Yeah," I said, thinking fast. "Geomancers. Ley lines. The mystic energy of the earth and all that, right?" Jim nodded, folded his arms across his chest, and squinted out over the tiny river to the new autopista in the distance. The Look of Eagles, it was.
The Way of St. James attracts its share of metaphysicians and strange sciences, not to mention alternative religions and conspiracy theorists. Shirley Maclaine Herself acknowledges the Camino follows one of Earth's great invisible power meridians. Still, most Arcane Adepts keep to the Camino proper. It was odd to find such a specimen a good mile south of the Way. And with some major machinery in tow.
"You're a little far from the Camino," I observed. He just smiled and appeared to listen closely. "What do you do with all this rig?"
"Oh, that. We're taking soundings. Measuring. This stream here, it's the Rio Templarios, you know. Templars. The Templar Knights. The next town is Terradillos of the Templars. And right there, in between, making a triangle? Is the Camino de Santiago."
"Well, yeah." I said. "Um... What are you finding, then? Your measurements, are they telling you anything?"
"Of course," he said, clasping his hands together. "You live around here, right? You're in for a show, then. There's a great deal of energy built up right here, where these hills and rises come together...just follow that line of electric poles there with your eyes. Right....there. Where the birds are all sitting. It attracts the birds." He grinned. "If you stand and watch it, maybe you'll see the radiant energy rising. This place is just waiting to explode in glory!"
I haven't head of anything "exploding in glory" since I last attended a Holy Ghost Revival service, which is a rather long time. I didn't quite know how to ask Jim to explain himself without being caught up in a sermon. And just then one of the other men started over to us, clipboard in hand. He was wearing a helmet. His name was Henk, he said.
"Check these," he told Jim. "They're ready for you over there." Jim nodded at me and stepped over to the machine.
Henk spoke to me, matter-of-factly. "Don't listen to a thing he tells you. Just watch, you'll see what we're doing."
Jim hit a button, and the drill rig slowly sank the utility pole into the soil. The men put a sort of cap on top, to mark the spot. The men were simply reinforcing the river bank, driving a line of pilings into the ground several yards back from the banks. It's a state project, Henk said, European Union funding, a South African crew working under contract with an Austrian engineering firm, unaffected by Spanish holidays. No ley lines or geomancy or mystic power. Just poles and geology and hydraulics.
"Cool," I said, watching the machine work. "But where'd the geomancer thing come from?"
"Jim's a fucking sociopath," Henk said fondly. "I think he's getting too much sun. It makes him tell horrid lies."
Jim overheard. He looked up from the clipboard and corrected his friend. "Not the sun, stupid," he sang out. "It's the Earth, man. The power of the Earth!"