Walking to Oliva de Plasencia – Chapter 53

We leave Carcaboso and begin walking to Oliva de Plasencia. We will take a detour from the Via de la Plata so that we will have a place to spend the night.

Gerald Kelly, in his guide, mentions this sign “Bombay.” I think that he refers to a turn after the sign but Karen disagrees.  I find an arrow that supports my argument but things seem out of balance. Kelly says to turn left — but does he mean at the sign or after the sign?

I read Chapter 53 of the Tao te Ching:

“The great Way is easy,
yet people prefer the side paths.
Be aware when things are out of balance.
Stay centered within the Tao.”

We follow the Camino arrows.

We meet a British guy, Tim.


As with all the British and Europeans we met, he was concerned with our American President — a man who he feels has no understanding of foreign affairs or of environmental concerns.

“When rich speculators prosper,

while farmers lose their land;

when government officials spend money

on weapons instead of cures;”

I watch a large bug. So far, I have been unable to identify this insect.

Lao tsu continues listing signs of disharmony:

“When the upper class is extravagant and irresponsible
while the poor have nowhere to turn-
all this is robbery and chaos.
It is not in keeping with the Tao.”

I watch two blister beetles. The male pursues the female. This particular female is not fleeing but is eating a leaf — later she will produce larvae which will crawl off, seeking special flowers frequented by solitary bees (not bees that live in hives but ones that live alone). When the solitary bee pollinates the flower, gathering nectar, the beetle larva will attach itself to the bee’s wings and be carried back to the bee nest where the larva will kill and replace one of the bee’s larva. The bee will feed the beetle larva until it becomes an oil beetle. Its  joints secrete an oil that produces blisters on human skin  — hence the name “oil beetle” or “blister beetle.”

Oil beetle

Tim argues that harmony among nations is superior to conflict. He cannot understand why Americans would support conflict rather than harmony and suspects that the world’s future is bleak (many other Europeans perceive America’s choice as an omen for a dire future — an era of ignorance and disharmony which will affect the entire world).

Tim continues on the Via de la Plata while we will go to a Hostal in Oliva de Plasencia.

We have a long road walk ahead of us. The sun is hot and we become very tired.

Even in Lao tsu’s era, people were concerned with the unequal distrubution on wealth and the strange imbalances that exist in life.

We are glad when we arrive at Oliva de Placencia. Our feet are very sore.

Some people think it is unnatural for conflict to occur but the evolutionary process creates strange relationships. Everything is connected. The flower needs the bee. The beetle needs the bee. The bee cannot understand good or bad, right or wrong, rich or poor.

The evolutionary process produces much delusion and deception. The bee helps the beetle larvae and does not realize that the beetle larvae brings no benefits in return. The complexity of the oil beetle/bee relationship is normal — species evolve in relationship with other species. If the bee developed a better way of detecting deception, the oil beetle would develop better ways of fooling the bee or else the oil beetle species would perish.

If you touch the oil beetle, your skin may blister. If the oil gets in your eyes it can cause much harm. If the politician’s words get into your eyes or ears, you may experience much distress. Those who allow themselves to be deceived will suffer.

Our task is to continue our pilgrimage — to provide a metaphor for the Inner Way. Our task is not to judge others but to follow a path that brings compassion. Even though we struggle, we must keep going. Even when the path seems dark, we can turn to the inner light.

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