I walked the Vía de la Plata in 2009 while pilgrims were still not a daily sight, and a small, young-looking woman like myself walking alone was rarer still.
The old ladies in the towns would always commend me for being valiente, so brave! , and marvel, astonished, that I was walking solita, all alone. There were dangers in the woods! “Lobos!” they warned. “Wolves! The kind with 4 legs, and the kind with 2!”
These women also warned me about the mighty jabalí, but my limited Spanish meant I had no idea what a jabalí was, and none of my dictionaries provided a translation. So I just nodded and smiled and assured them I’d be careful.
But I was soon to find out for myself what they were talking about, no translation required.
For one day, as I was walking along a gorgeous, solitary, damp forest path, sunlight filtering through the leaves, minding my own business and ambling on at a pleasant clip, I heard off to my right, a shake of leaves, and… a very, very loud… SNUFFLE!
“Cchwaoink waoink cchhwank!!!!” it insisted. “Cchwaoinkkkkkkkccchhh!!”