Saturday, August 24th
de los Condes
In the town square, where the last revellers from last night's Fiesta are beginning to go home. Mostly kids in yellow overalls, amongst others.
I made a mistake.
I should've bought food for today, and probably tomorrow as well, yesterday.
I'm walking to has no shop, and tomorrow's Sunday,
so Lord knows what will be available. I'm just waiting for the supermercado
to open, and I have no idea when that will be. I'm hoping 8 at the earliest,
It's still dark, so the upside is I'll be walking in the light.
Nowt else but to have a coffee at the Bar Carmen. I've watched the dregs of the revellers leave, the day change from night 'til morning, the verandah of the Cafeteria los Condos being swept, some cars crunching over the plastic cups and glass, and now the garbage trucks are moving in, it might take them a while.
Still no signs of life at the supermercado. Whatever, it's only a 17km walk, or 19, depending on whose guidebook you're following.
Feck. It doesn't open until 9.
And now the sweepers are moving in. An army of them.
I've been carrying on throughout this walk about "whatever happens, happens", but I've this feeling of anxiety, that I should have moved on by now. Other pilgrims have been moving through the town, in groups, in pairs, solo. I feel like I'm the last one out, that I'm missing something, and I don't know what. I know it's a comparatively short walk planned for today, but I can't shake this feeling that I should have gone. Maybe there's a larger reason for all of this, something other than dying of starvation tomorrow.
Mein Gott! even the two Germans who lay in bed last night grizzling about the light being on, and this morning, about not being able to sleep-in are out and about and moving on.
Lordy, the guys making deliveries to the Lupo Supermercado have taken pity on this poor pilgrim, and given me three small bags of peanuts. I guess I won't starve now.
just after 9:00am
Down to the other supermercado, waiting for the shutters to go up, waiting for the delivery van to be moved out of the way of the front doors, and finally in, and buying heaps o'stuff to justify the wait. Bread, oranges, orange juice, yoghurt, even bought a box of muesli bars. Don't care that I have to carry it.
Then out. Finally. Passing the monastery, along the road, passing the service station, then hitting the unmade road, the one that goes on and on, seemingly forever.
Then the rain.
Getting the raincover thing out, but still managing to get wet on the inside.
Getting the damn thing on was a trial in itself, it's flapping around like
a demented flag, and making sure it's covering the backpack as well is sheer
guesswork. But not minding much, not even
the long, flat and
road. Through the wheatfields, then the lightning cracking from the heavens
to the earth, the thunder booming. There's no shelter out here, none at all.
Nothing else to do but keep walking through it. Still, it eventually eased
Walked with Anne-Marie, a French woman, although were would have only been a few sentences of conversation, but I understood her meaning that the fierce weather maybe meant that maybe God was angry.
Calzadilla de la Cueva
Finally, to here. The church spire appearing first, then the rooves of the houses, then the town.
Finding the refugio wasn't hard, it's basic, but okay.
Damn, the 'Comytel'
phone system won't accept a 900 number, so I can't ring home, but I'm told
that the restaurant has the 'net. Woohoo!
Down to the restaurant, order a cafe solo grande, but no, the "Internet is broken", and they only have a Comytel phone too. Chatted briefly with the 'wanna-sleep' Germans, but they've moved on.
The hospitalero at the refugio burns incense at his desk. Great, the day just keep on getting better and better. He plays music. Pink Floyd and Vangelis, I think, on repeat.
Didn't mean to have the Siesta, just trying to keep my feet warm inside the sleeping bag, but there you go. Woke up and Pink Floyd are playing "Us and Them" again.
So, back to the bar, it's hard to miss. Firstly, it's the only bar in town, and second, the yellow arrows divert you to it's door, third, the word BAR is spelled out in huge letters where you have to turn. This time, just a cafe petit solo.
The Internet is
still broken, just a sad looking blank screen. This town, according to the
Pilgrimage Road, is much better than it was just a few years ago, when there
was no bar, when the refugio was the front of the ex-primary school, and
not much else. Now though, there's a hospitalero who burns incense and listens
to Pink Floyd, while the BAR hosts the Calzadilla poker playin' gringoes,
one of whom has more than a passing resemblance to Anthony Quinn. I'm wondering
what the stakes are, as they're slappin' those cards down with some ferocity,
punctuated by throaty 'hur hur' noises. Maybe it's:
"Hey, Pedro, I'll bet mah ol' flea-bit mule on this hand.."
"Hur, hur, yer mule ain't worth jackshit..."
"Well, mah ol' dog then .."
"Hur, hur, yer dog only has three legs .."
"Well, may wife then ..."
"Hur, hur, already had me a piece o' that .."
"What then ?"
"Fer you to fix that feckin' innernet thing ..."
Still, my stuff is drying. The coat, slowly; the orange t-shirt, now looking a bit sad, maybe I'll buy a new one some time, but maybe the locals will be saying "that peregrino can't have walked 1102kms, he's too neat"; the thin socks, quickly; the wonder towel, as usual; the shoes, out the back of the refugio with all the others.
And speaking of drying clothes, just had a close look at the thick socks. Bejaysus, they're not only crusty, but they're wearin' thin at the back of the heel, dangerously thin. In fact, threadbare would not be putting too fine a point on it.
Major Event. A flock of sheep just moved through town, tinkling bells as they go.
Out the front of the refugio, on one of the blue plastic chairs, just thinking. My backpack contains everything I own, and the lighter it is, the better the Way is. Ideally, I'd just dump the lot and just walk, but I can't. Things I don't need have mysteriously disappeared. I didn't mean to lose the grey t-shirt, but one day it just wasn't there. Maybe it took it upon itself to lighten my load. The knife has disappeared too. I'd like another novel to read.
Just been talking to another pilgrim, from Barcelona. He's already walked to Santiago, and he's now walking back. In fact, all he does own is in his backpack, the entirety of his worldly possessions. There's no home as such, his home is the road. He believes the Way provides, and to prove it, he's whittling a stopper for the aluminium water bottle he found earlier today.
And, from another pilgrim, just heard that there's three Australian guys about to arrive. Bejaysus, I'll be after having to pretend I'm Irish.
Tea, at the restaurant, with Louise, a French Canadian woman. Had the 'pilgrims menu'. Talking about The Way, feeling free, places we've both been, people we've met. The 'pilgrims menu', this time, was soup, a sausage thing with chips and onions, then something like 'rice con leche' which, I suspect, was more leche than rice, and a bottle of red between just the two of us.
Over this, Louisa telling me of her visions. One in particular. At the beginning of her Way, near Saint Jean Pied de Port, a place where she rested, and becoming aware of a group of pilgrims "from a thousand years ago", and about the hardships they endured. Being threatened by wolves and robbers, and being very frightened. Sometimes, I'm aware of the fact that these towns I'm passing through have been visited by countless pilgrims over a millennia, the churches they visited are the same ones I look into, and that their needs, like shelter and food, are the same as mine, and like them, I too am dependent on the kindnesses of others. As much as I'm aware that those pilgrim footprints are very faint, and mine are but the newest for the time being, I haven't actually met one, unlike Louisa, yet.