Our second Sunday on the road…I didn’t write yesterday; was too tired and didn’t have an Internet connection unless we were sitting outside on the church steps where it was chilly and breezy. We walked just over 17 miles yesterday ending in a small village. We chose to stay in an albuquerque located in a church. There was room for 40 pilgrims in two rooms with 20 mats in each. The floors were old and wooden, the laundry area was in the belfry, and dinner was communal. The plan for the evening was dinner prep at 6:00, followed by mass at 7:00, and dinner at 8:00. Walker declared he wasn’t going to help prepare the meal as the kitchen is not his forte, he wasn’t going to mass because he wouldn’t understand it and would fall asleep, and he most certainly was not going to wait until 8:00 for dinner as that was stupid and he was hungry. He left to go across the street to the bar for a sandwich while I joined in the meal preparation to peel, chop, and slice food for dinner. I always enjoy the camaraderie of being in the kitchen with others, and it is especially pleasant when actions are the common denominator as not many spoke the same language. When I went down for mass, Walker was sitting on the church steps checking email or something. I went in for mass; guess who followed me? Mass lasted for about 40 minutes, we didn’t understand a word of it, we just stood up and sat down when others did, but the significance of it all is hard to describe. An ancient church, beautiful singing,and incredible ornamentation are just a few of the highlights. We noticed that the majority of the congregants were women in their 60’s and 70’s, dressed similarly in skirts, long cardigan sweaters and chiffon scarves. They all looked like they had been to the beauty parlor earlier in the day. At the end of the service, the priest invited all pilgrims to come forward and offered a special prayer for us. (Side-note : today we walked for awhile with Aymeric, a 24 year old French med student. Though he doesn’t speak Spanish, he somehow knew where to follow along in his Bible, and said the lesson was on the Parable of the master with two servants and the talents.) Back in the kitchen after mass, I noticed I didn’t see any of the food we had prepared except for the salad. This albergue was hosted, as some are, by volunteers. In this case our hosts were two Spaniards, a male and a female, and neither spoke English. Guillermo, one of our fellow pilgrims, was commandeered to assist as interpreter, and he told us that the pans of food had been taken to the local panaderia (bread bakery) to be cooked, and we had to either sing or dance en masse to get the food back. The only thing off-limits was the Macarena. So, there we were, 26 of us, trying to find a song we all knew. We agreed on Frere Jacques, divided in to two groups to sing in rounds, and headed out with Walker as our leader on a guitar. As we paraded down the street, both locals and pilgrims, and even a few resident dogs, came out with big smiles/ears. After Walker performed a solo on the guitar, as did a French pilgrim with a flugelhorn, we received our pans of hot food and paraded back to the albergue. The priest arrived with bottles of red wine, offered a blessing, and we all enjoyed what, in my opinion, has been our best meal yet. (When everyday you walk, shower, do laundry and repeat, meals become a big deal!) We enjoyed salad and a delicious casserole of rice, chickpeas, potatoes, chorizo, blood sausage, and tomatoes with a side dish of butternut squash. The squash also served as dessert with a drizzle of honey. We each washed our own dishes; our hosts took care of the pots and pans, and we were in bed (on our mats in our sleeping bags) by 9:30.
After dinner last night, we went around the table to introduce ourselves and say what inspired us to walk the Camino. People did this in their native languages, so I didn’t get all of the stories, but I did get this one. Michael, from Austria, has been dubbed Quick Mic. He had been planning a vacation in Bolivia with a good friend, but she was killed in an auto accident a few weeks ago and instead of going to Bolivia, he decided to walk the Camino in her honor. He has been moving along at a fast pace, hence his name. This morning at breakfast I asked him if he was ready for the day, and he said yes and asked if I wanted to walk with him. I told him maybe if I was 20 years younger! We then determined that he was 24 years younger than I am, and I said to the other middle aged ladies at the table weren’t we lucky that we could say we slept in a room with a 29 year old man. He asked what he could say about that, and I told him he could say he slept surrounded by wisdom. He then went on to say that to learn to ride a bike, you must start with an old one, or to learn to cook you should start with old pans. That started our day with a good laugh. Later today, we passed him and I joked and said the cafe we were leaving had the best cafe con leche ever, and that he should get one and stay for at least an hour. Then, as we were headed back to the Camino, he told me to go right (instead of left), and to be sure to observe the speed limit. We didn’t see him again and who knows if we will or not. That’s how it works on the Camino.
After a nice breakfast in the albergue (having breakfast where you stay is not the norm), we packed up and departed just before 8:00. As we rounded the corner to get on the Camino, we saw Marita, a pilgrim friend from Sweden, and two Brits having coffee. I paused to say hi and ask where they had spent the night, etc. and Walker said, “come on, we’re late.” Late?! Late for what I wondered…not for a bus, nor brunch reservations…nothing I could think of. Time doesn’t really matter here (except for the 10 pm lights out rule). Walker, bless his heart, has finally taken his watch off, but hasn’t yet been able to forget the time constraints of our old life. There’s still time; we still have A LOT of miles to go!
Today on the walk I listened to another Kati Marton audio book, Hidden Power, Presidential Marriages That Shaped Our Recent History. It is about the women behind the presidents of the 20th century, and I recommend it.
We’ve been following John Brierley’s A Pilgrim’s Guide to the Camino de Santiago which gets one from our start in St. Jean Pied de Port to the cathedral in Santiago in 33 days. We hope to get to Santiago with enough time to reach Finisterre, so we have added a few extra kilometers these past two days. Feeling entitled today after a longer than recommended walk, we’ve checked in to a nice private albergue. We even upgraded from an 8€ per person space to 10€. The only thing it bought us is twin beds across from each other, with a partition on either side of the beds. I’ve taken advantage of the space and emptied my backpack to see if there’s anything I can get rid of, but all I’ve done so far is reduce it by one piece of candy! We really enjoyed hot showers after two days of lukewarm, and the abundance of clothes lines and clothes-pins is a simple pleasure.
All for now; we enjoy reading your comments. As always, questions are welcomed!