|Cyclists on bicycles at a roundabout on the|
road into Loulé, Portugal.
Once across the Rio Odiel, north of Huelva, the traffic had all but dissipated. With only 15 kilometres of flat open road left to travel, it was the easiest part of what had turned out to be a fascinating day’s ride.
The town of Trigueros held some fascination for me as well. Isolated in the heart of an arid plain, the distant view of it up ahead gave it the air of a ghost town. Seemingly no closer the further I travelled, it reminded me of the opening three minutes of the 1973 Clint Eastwood western, ‘High Plains Drifter’, the rather sordid story of a mysterious stranger who delivers his own sense of justice to the crooked mining town of Lago.
To the hypnotic whine of Dee Barton’s musical score, Eastwood’s ‘Stranger’ nonchalantly approaches the outskirts of town on the back of a horse. Aloof and inscrutable, we soon learn that he doesn’t think twice about mistreating and exploiting its inhabitants, seemingly, just because he can.
|Old boat lying idle on the western shore of the Rio|
Guadiana; at Ayamonte, just across the border into Spain.
Ironically assigned the role of town protector, the Stranger orders a medley of curious measures, including appointing a dwarf barber, Mordecai, as both sheriff and mayor, having the entire town painted red and its name changed to ‘Hell’; an obvious metaphor for its corruption and immorality.
At the film’s end, as the Stranger slowly rides through what’s left of the town, he passes Mordecai carving a fresh wooden marker, which reads ‘Marshall Jim Duncan. Rest in Peace’. Vanishing into the cloud of dust as mysteriously as he came, he leaves the audience to ponder his identity once the closing credits have faded to black.