In the Kingdom of the Blind

Posted: February 19, 2011 in Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

The Crotchety Local
The traveller didn’t expect to be showered with gifts but neither did he expect this reaction.

“Ha! Are you trying to tell me I don’t know my own land?” The old man shook his fist in the traveller’s face. “You come here from your fancy lands and try to tell me how to go about my business. Bah.”
The old man sat back down on the rickety stool beside his empty barrel. “I know exactly how things work here. They work the same way they always do and always will. But you don’t know about that; you’re not from around here.”

And with that he turned his back on the traveller, looked to the skies and began to mumble an unintelligible prayer.

Behind his eye-patch the traveller’s empty socket began to ache in frustration but he merely clasped his hands together and bowed.

“As you wish,” he smiled at the cantankerous old man’s back and carried on along the dry and dusty road.

The Old Soldier
After about 10 minutes he came to the exact same scene he had just left. At the side of the road another old man in a uniform sat beside an almost identical water barrel. The barrel, like the one belonging to the cantankerous old fellow, was completely empty.

“Hello friend,” the man exclaimed. “I’d offer you water, but I have none.” The man stroked his chin and looked skyward. “It’s strange, I have lived on this island for two decades and for most of that time I could rely on water falling right on this spot at the same time every month. For twenty years my barrel has been full enough to keep my family free from thirst. But in the last two years…it has rained less and less and now there’s hardly a drop.”

“I know my friend,” the traveller patted the old man on the shoulder and then told him what he had told the old man down the road. “Your tale is no different from that of many people all over the world. But I have good news. Scholars have discovered that the currents in the great oceans have changed their flow and because of that so have the weather patterns. The rain is still falling…just not here.” The traveller pointed to a hill in the distance. “Move your barrel to the other side of the hill and you will find that soon it will be filled with water once again.”

The old man looked at the traveller for a few moments without saying anything.

“I don’t recognise you; you’re not from around here,” he finally replied. “You won’t understand, but the rain always falls in this spot and if I wait long enough I’m sure it will do so again.” He shook the traveller’s hand. “Thank you for your advice, but I think I’ll just stay here.”

The traveller scratched at his eye-patch, made his farewells and continued along the road until he met yet another man with another empty barrel. This time when the traveller told the man about the change in the great oceans, the reaction was different.

The Man Who Listened
“Hmm,” pondered the man. “I haven’t been here very long, my barrel has never been filled with water; so what’s the harm in trying what you advise. I shall move my barrel to the other side of that hill.”

At last the ache in the traveller’s empty socket eased. He journeyed to the end of the road where he caught a ship bound for other lands.

Two years later the traveller found himself back on the island travelling the same road as before, but this time the route led him first to the valley where he had advised the men to relocate their barrels.

As he entered the valley the third man he’d met came rushing towards him, grasped his hand and pumped it furiously.

“Thank you, thank you,” the man exclaimed. “I did as you said and within a few weeks the rain came and my barrel has been filled with water ever since.”

The traveller was pleased to hear about the man’s good fortune and, after sharing some water with him, decided to seek out the two other men. When he came to the place where the old soldier had been there was no sign of him. All he found was a few broken shards of wood; the remains of the barrel. The lack of rainfall had clearly forced him to leave the island.

He moved on until he came to the barrel of the first man he had encountered. Lo and behold the crotchety old local was still there, sitting beside his barrel. The old man eyed the traveller up and down and recognition spread across his features.

“HA! I remember you,” he shouted. “You said there would be no water, well you were wrong and I was right. I told you that you didn’t know how things worked here and I was right. To change would have been stupid…stupid.”

The traveller walked over to the barrel and looked inside. There was water in the barrel…but it barely covered the bottom. It was clear that there was still hardly any rain in this valley.

The traveller sighed, rubbed his empty, aching socket and walked away from the man without saying another word.

Who says in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king?


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