Today’s Miles: 9.8
Total Miles: 6,097
Ayamonte, Spain – May 18, 2017
I scamper up the concrete slope, through some low bushes, and over the outside guardrail of the highway. Traffic races past. The bridge stretches ahead, its roadway suspended in the air by cables attached to two massive towers. Far below, the Guadiana River flows to the sea, wide and muddy green, the southern border between Spain and Portugal.
I squeeze into the narrow few feet between the inner and outer railings. Buses, giant big rigs, cars, they all flood across the pavement in a blur. Daya comes up over the railing a few feet behind me and we take off without a word. It’s too loud to talk, the air is all wheels spinning, engines and gasoline, moving pistons and metal grinding.
And the wind.
I slam a hand over my hat to hold it in place. The wind laughs and threatens to throw us both off together. It roars over the bridge, shoving me on each step, twanging the suspension cables like they are guitar strings in need of a tune up.
The sound is eerie, a ceaseless, metallic cracking, thumbing, vibrating, a shifting mix of a hundred different cables snapping tight, sliding against each other, singing in the wind. It drills into my head like a fingernail on glass, like it will drive me insane if I stand too long, so I walk.
In the middle, we stop at the border, a single metal plate with an E and a P printed on it, España and Portugal, just like the one we saw so long ago in the north. We snap a picture, almost without thinking, and keep walking.
Trucks roll past. Buses and cars fly by. The bridge plays its insane tune. We reach the far edge and hop over the rail again, disappearing down a dirt bank and onto a track underneath the highway, fleeing away from the engines, the thrumming cables, back to a place where the wind sounds like wind.
It takes a few minutes for my mind to calm down, for the road to return to being just a road, for my eyes to notice my feet in the dirt.
Spain. I’m standing in Spain again.