A close brush with the 4 Guardia Civil and overcoming this problem again and again really made me confident that I was able to make it all the way to Santiago if I had to. I found a couple of things to be very effective to say when confronted with police, using the Spanish..ahum..’cultural psyche’ a little bit against them. Its music really, a dance if you will..
This plan has a couple of steps, first off I wouldn’t try to evade any police directly. I got a heavy ass backpack that makes me unable to run away anyway, if they see me > they see me. If anything, it speaks in my advantage that Im not some run of the mill tourist doing a cheap vacation hike, instead Im carrying my house on my back for the last 6 months, making me very well prepared for whatever, a pandemic lockdown or snowy mountains in France.
Next up was to just be friendly and learn how to say a couple of things in Spanish, most police officers aren’t that well versed in the English language but asking them in the beginning if they speak English and then starting to speak shabby Spanish myself is a great psychological way to stay in control of the situation. Always mix in a smile here and there and just be as forthcoming towards them as possible. Another thing that I said was that if they had a place for me – I will not hesitate a single second to come with them, but if they don’t – then they should just let me go. As a anti motivational cherry on top I noticed that when I said to the Guardia civil that I already talked to loads of other police officers in different places, their faces turned sour with this look in their eyes like “why the fuck is this my problem then”.
So the-get-through-the-pandemic-repertoire goes like this; I see the police and try to completely ignore them but not in a sketchy way, to me they’re just another car driving by and if I see a hint of them trying to make their way for me, immediately lean into the situation by smiling and being forthcoming in answering their questions. They always ask what the hell Im doing and uhm, Im a pilgrim doing the camino (yo soy peregrino). The obvious thing they say thereafter is that the camino is closed – I immediately parry that with a, “no no es un camino, está abierto :)” (its a road, it cant be closed) but say it with a smile. This is the crucial part where they will probably actually get out of the car which is also the perfect moment to ask them if they speak English (WHICH THEY DONT or maybe they do), but its important to start speaking shabby Spanglish at this point. They will say that I need to go home, and all you ask is “como” meaning “how”, they will say something about trains and busses, which is the moment you shake your head and point towards Lucy “con un perra? Imposible acqui, no se permite de transporte público” (with a dog? Impossible here in Spain, not allowed on public transport”. You dont say this in an annoyed way but rather with a smile, thats where you throw in the “no soy turista” Im not a tourist – “Mi preperando, Hollanda/Belgica/Francia adando completo” which rougly translates to I walked already all this way and Im well prepared, 6 meses (6 months). This is the moment that you usually have them and they ask, where the fuck do you sleep. “Yo equipé una poco tienda” (I have a small tent equipped) and to top it all off you turn around and show them the solar panel hanging from your backpack (“energia de sol”). Meanwhile Lucy is already working her magic and jumping up against them being cute and friendly and/or making them dirty. Then you steer the conversation towards all the other cops that you have spoken to, “yo hablas de todo policia” and you start rambling off all the cities and towns that spring to mind wether you’ve spoken to police there or not (if theres a record of me talking to the cops then great, if theres no record in their system – even better because that means that the cops specifically didn’t register the interaction and just kicked the CovidCan down the road, confusion is key). Since you already have them at this point its time for the finishing blow. You explain to them that you’re well aware of the situation, that you social distance and that you sleep out in nature. This part is the “facile” (easy) part – water fountains everywhere, supermarkets everywhere, sun is shining and freezing your balls of in France was the serious part. If they are wobbling by this part then maybe you can start talking about the economy and how its all going straight into the shitter, everything you can do to draw attention away from yourself and show them you’re not nearly as crazy as you must be, to be doing this in middle of a fucking pandemic.
9 out of 10 times this will end the conversation, they will ask you for your passport which of course..you got..in a nice folder..not afraid to display it to them over the entire hood of their car. Like really roll it out.
So at this point you already sowed confusion, you seem confident and capable enough, the dog is indeed a problem and yea the borders are also closed. Be unshaken in your resolve but also take the time for them, Im not in a hurry and the only clear option for them is to let you go. Since they cant place you anywhere and they don’t have a plan to get you home, you position yourself into all the possible loopholes and cracks and you make sure that if it goes in depth, you take it a little further. At some point when I noticed the cops are pretty anxious, I just calmed everything down that when they checked my passport in the car, I just took the Bible from my folder and smoked a cigaret whilst reading it. All psychological tricks that convey how well prepared and calm you are. Im not in the business of fear, especially not for these talking heads of poorly plotted out government plans to curb the spread of the virus. Your whole demeanor mixed in with the smiles and your absolute determination, the other police officers that let him off the hook and the end of the world as we know it and yea, move your ass pilgrim, we don’t want you here.. And I don’t want to be here.
The final stage is..
To thank them, mostly for their service. Thats when you stop smiling and when you start getting them puppy dog eyes of hope and gratefulness. Thank these fine officers for putting their lives on the line every, single, day.. They don’t know why they do it but they do it, the boss’s boss-boss told their boss’s boss, whom told their boss to do it and they really have no choice in the matter, and he’s the fucking spiritual father of authority in this idiosyncratic country. Go against a God and get crucified and nobody likes that one bit.. Nobody is going to get publicly crucified over one fucking pilgrim..just let me walk, and I will be out of your jurisdiction if you just let me….walk for an hour..hour and a half. There ain’t no captain checking you wherever you go in a direct sense, and even so, they shouldn’t be able to see that you talked to me. Im a nobody and Im everybody, gone before youregisterme, on my holy way before the next time you go to church and every time you tell me to just continue you’re adding fuel to my fire. MY fire. The one of walking, I will literally use your ineffectiveness and poor communication to my advantage. Im building a wobbly jenga tower of go fuck yourself and you’re but one piece in the puzzle dear officer.
The show must go on, practice is the key to success.
The Covidance and dance,
on and on.
Blink with your eyes mr police woman sir, Im already gone.
This post is dedicated to all the brave men and women around the world enforcing rules that they dont necessarily support. They make their rounds and do their job with dignity and each and every one that let me go has a special place in my heart. if anything this blog is not to make fun of any of then, but rather the folly of our governments.