Friday 8 February 2013

History and the Kindness of Strangers.

I am still reading  Roads to Santiago  by Cees Nooteboom - and wonderful it still is.   I am reading each chapter twice as it is so enthralling.

Yesterday I read a chapter on the medieval city of Trujillo - a small, intimate place with only ten thousand or so inhabitants.   The town square is totally dominated by a statue of Pizarro, who went to Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia with a force of 130 men, 40 cavalry and 2 small cannons - and by subterfuge and clever warfare managed to totally wipe out the complete Inca civilisation, laying it in ruins.

What came back to Spain of course was untold wealth in the form of gold, silver and jewels - and the men who returned (Pizarro was not among them and his leathery corpse is still visible in Peru!) were rewarded with being made Counts, Dukes, Knights and the like - and having enough money to build grand castles in places like Trujillo.   These palaces now lie in ruins, or have been taken over by monasteries or somesuch.   And tourists passing the statue of Pizarro hardly glance in his direction.   How are the mighty fallen and all that?

A few years ago, walking in the Extramadura wih Ramblers' Holidays, we spent a day in Trujillo, wandering amongst the buildings and if my memory serves me right, eating a delicious omelette in the town square.

At the end of the day we were supposed to return to the Coach Park and the Tourist Coach to take us to a hotel for the night.   There were so many roads leading off the square that the farmer and I had quite forgotten which one led to the Park - and the time for meeting was drawing near.

A handsome Spaniard emerged from an office building and made his way towards his car.   I approached him and asked if he spoke English - he didn't.  I managed to indicate that I wanted to know where the Coach Park was.  He opened the rear door of his car, ushered us in and sped down one particular road.   Two minutes later he let us out at the Coach and sped off before we even had time to really thank him.   Now I shall remember him far more than I shall remember Pizarro! 


Hildred said...

Fascinating history, and fascinating Spaniard. We had a similar kindness shown to us when we arrived in Lille in the middle of a Protest Demonstration and couldn't find an open road leading to our hotel which was visible across the square. Random acts of kindness, - unforgetable.

Gwil W said...

It's amazing how often exactly the right person suddenly turns up to offer much needed help or assistance at just the right time. A lovely story.

Heather said...

How kind of that Spaniard to come to your rescue and how much more enjoyable even an excellent book can be when you have visited the places written about.

Rachel Phillips said...

How nice.

Elizabeth said...

And rightly so!

Awaiting blizzard here!
What fun we are having.

angryparsnip said...

Funny or very interesting your posting on this today.
I just watched a program about Pizarro and how his conquest of Incas with a force of 130 men 40 cavalry and 2 small cannons... was helped by all the germs, disease the main one was smallpox, that they brought with them.
Also the Inca Empire was in a war of succession at that time.

cheers, parsnip

A said...

Any time I've found myself in an unfamiliar place I seem to have the great fortune of finding a kind stranger willing to provide help. These sorts of interactions are often the better part of a travel experience and I try to do the same whenever I encounter someone visiting my area for the first time!

Tom Stephenson said...

Well said, Blanche.

Cloudia said...

Travel's memories often fool as delight us! Felt I was there.

Sending YOU Aloha
from Honolulu,
Comfort Spiral
~ > < } } ( ° >

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for calling - do call again.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

What a wonderful story - and I'm sure he never thought his story would spread around the world. Just goes to show us how kindness is the best thing of all.

Arija said...

Just been re-reading The Lord of the Rings and here you are writing about "kindness where you least expect it". These are the things that make a trip really memorable.