Europe N to S: A Light in the Woods (4/20/17)

Today’s Miles: 27.1
Total Miles: 5,516.8

Near Agueda, Portugal – April 20, 2017

The sun cooked us mid day. The pavement ate our feet at the end. But we found a small crack of forest to sleep in.

It’s not much, just some forgotten patches of trees between industrial parks, but it’s enough for a few hours of sleep. It has to be enough because there are precious few places now. The land is all little houses, towns, and farmer’s fields.

I drop my bag and feel the fatigue of the day rising in me. I could walk another 20 miles if I wanted, but the moment I stop the tiredness catches up as if it has been trailing behind me for miles. I barely move to set up the tent.

Sweat, sunscreen, and dirt stick to my face. One eye stings where the sunscreen and sweat ran into it. It tears as I rub at it for a bit then I let it go. No showers tonight, no bathroom mirrors to look at and see the red irritation. I grab the tent bag and unroll it.

My ears still ring with the sound of roaring engines, wheels on pavement, and dogs barking at me through fences. I take a few breaths and let that go too. Daya stakes down one side of the tent and I stake the other. We move fast, not wanting to draw attention to our headlamps​ in the dark. The tent pops up, becomes my home, and reassures me that I have a place to sleep.

We shut off our lights and split apart to brush our teeth. The woods aren’t so bad. At least they feel safe. No garbage in them. Not a lot of reason for anyone to pass by. No graffiti or broken bottles around. No footprints along the dirt road.

I stop brushing and listen to the night. I hear distant dogs and the highway. I hear the hum of some industrial plant. I hear quiet in the dry leaves all around me. I know I won’t sleep well. I never do outside. I am almost always half awake, listening for sounds.

I notice a flash of light near Daya. It’s a glint really, almost like the reflection off something in the dark. I stare. It flashes again and disappears. A green burst. Then again. A firefly.

“Do you see…” I whisper.

“Yes,” Days answers and then we are silent again.

We watch it glow, watch it float though the dark trunks all around us, appearing and disappearing in the dark. It pulses with its green light, faint against the electric bulbs all around us, but still thumping like a little heart beat, a bit or magic in this tiny crack of forgotten woods.

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