Tuesday, August 27th

I've decided to stay here a second day, actually I'd planned this for a while. But, to add to it, don't really feel like walking today anyway.

Have some time to kill. So, it's a coffee, grande, in a bar off the Plaza Major. The news in on the TV, looks like trouble in Pamplona. Political, I think, now something about South Africa, Nelson Mandela saying a few words; floods, looks like some European towns have been severely flooded, and even Japan is under water; Something about Afghanistan, then Palestine, and I'm betting they're no closer to a peace treaty than they ever were, images of tanks rolling; from somewhere else here's images of soldiers being trained with wooden rifles; two girls have been murdered in America; and the update on the Spanish economy, and it's looking crap. Maybe I'm just not spending enough here.
But the Ayuntamiento de Sahagun have just moved in. I think these guys are the town cleaners.
Now the Sport is on, which seems to have the total attention of the Ayuntamiento. Soccer news, players being interviewed. I have no idea what it's about. Maybe they've seen AFL being played and decided to emigrate en masse, to play real footy, foregoing their millions in match payments. But now it's the acrobatic windsurfing news, hell, I didn't even know there was such a thing. Finally, it's 'El Tiempa' time, which I suspect is some kind of cultural thing, we've just had extracts from some newly-released feature film, and images of people buying CDs.

Second bar, in the main street, the one with the red plastic chairs out the front, the one just down from the statue of the Saint that this town is apparently named after, although his actual name, and Sahagun, have been linguistically mangled since the 3rd century. Second coffee, just the petit this time. It's pleasant enough, Spanish pop music is playing.

Feeling slightly anxious, as though I should be moving on, walking The Way, being a pilgrim, it's what I'm meant to be doing. It would be easier to walk today, as the thought of having to negotiate a room in a hotel is enough to put me off even attempting it. Okay, I did it in Burgos, and will do it in Leon. Learning the phrases:
"Kayreea un karto indeeveedual ?" (I'd like a room for one)
"por una nochay." (for one night)

Should be easy enough.

And it's over, I have a room, and it's only 15 euros.
The entire process was easy enough. Up the street, there's the door to the Hostal, and another door to the restaurant next to it. And old lady motioned for me to use the restaurant. Okay, gracias. There's an old man inside, behind the counter, "Dormir ?"
"Si," I reply, "una noche."
"Si," he says, writing 15:00 on a slip of paper, so I'd understand the price.
Leading me upstairs, to room 23. It's much better than the Burgos room.
Dump the backpack.
Downstairs again, and pay, and out.
Woohoo! Smiling again!


I think this is the Plaza Major. There's a small bandstand at the other end, and a fountain at the other, which has water flowing out of a lion's mouth.

Just been 'Ola, senor' by a pilgrim. I don't have my backpack, maybe he thinks I'm a local. Wouldn't mind, actually.

And from here on, it can't help but be a beautiful day, maybe all the rain last night was the final, last hurrah of the cold weather. It even looks like the ominous dark clouds have finally been pushed over. Maybe this was just meant to be.

Third coffee this morning. I think this place is called the Meson el Cepo, at least that's what's written on the coffee machine. By the end of today I'll probably have done all the bars in town. The news is on, again, and it looks much the same as before. Same bloodshed, same reporters, same violence, same images, same footage, same words. The floods are getting a huge coverage, apparently ten years worth of reconstruction work in Prague has been wiped out in just five days. Then there's protests against Mugabe, and for some reason associated with that protest, 'Australia' gets mentioned. I'm not sure why.
It's a smaller bar, and decorating the wall is a fairly ornate rifle and what look like wolf traps, one with spikes, the kind that they'll chew their own leg off to get out of.

Confiteria Katy, again.
Another pastry thing smothered in chocolate, and yet another coffee. No wonder I'm feeling totally wired.
Anyway, went back to the albergue, and cuteness personified herself is surprised to see me, but I explain that I'm staying a second night, "Here?", well yes, but at the Hostal, not the albergue, all smiles, and yes, I'm allowed to use the Internet, free. My favourite kind.
Then to the Lupo supermercado, the stuff I'll need, still need oranges though. Then to a clothes shop. There's nothing quite like a new pair of unders to make a man feel dangerous again. Miming 'unders' is quite a challenge, though.
Found the Post Office, after getting instructions, and a hand drawn map, from a guy in what turned out to be a bank. Easy enough to find, I was just in the wrong street. Another 17 euros to send stuff home. Bejaysus, maybe Spain is attempting a postal-led economic recovery, and pilgrims mailing stuff home will drag Spain into the forefront of World Economic Power. No wonder the Spanish Government is promoting the Camino. It all makes sense now.
And finally got around to sorting out the backpack. Not the most exciting way to spend some time, but it just had to be done. Plastic bags full of stuff, clothes, rolls of film, medical stuff, the raincover, the Pilgrimage Road book, the Spanish language book, the food stuff, making it all neat.

Then wanders, being good tourist. The Iglesia de San Tirso, but it's closed; the arch of San Benito, magnificent; the Monasterio de San Facundo, but that's closed too. Walked past the Sportsmans Bar, which seems to be the mecca for all of Sahagun's gringoes. Finding a farmacia, buying the closest things to elastoplast they have, for my heels.

Back at the Irish tavern, in a snug no less. The overhead TV is on, with a episode of Charmed. Maybe they should have Irish movies. The Quiet Man, Michael Collins, even Braveheart at a push (well, it was mostly filmed in Ireland). But, uhoh, the Charmed chicks have suddenly just realized that the violent man is actually something else entirely ... something diabolical. But, 'Lord of the Rings', in Spanish, is 'Señor de los Anorillos'.

Wanders, just around the streets. The wall paintings, the hand of God, "Republika", another of the arch, others; up by the railway line, down ordinary streets, mostly brick houses, some abandoned houses of adobe; but then the masterpiece reveals itself. A garage door with Michelangelo's Creation of Adam.

Then down to the main street which divides three ways, to the other side, towards the railway line; a man tiling a roof while his wife looks on; finally into a restaurant, for what may be the last coffee in Sahagun.

Still here, pretending to read a newspaper, 'El Mundo - La Cronica de Leon'. Didn't understand much, Mel Gibson's mentioned, but the context eluded me entirely; something about Kylie in Bali; and the weather report makes it appear that the next three days don't look all that flash, with chances of rain. I should learn to enjoy being wet, just take whatever comes, just make sure the raincover thing is handy.
All the guidebooks to the Camino warn against doing certain stretches on August afternoons, describing them as blisteringly hot, but, so far, it hasn't been that way at all, not this year anyway. Maybe the Spanish 'blistering hot' is different from the Australian one.
Meanwhile, while dominoes was the game to play a few towns ago, here, it's Ludo. There's two teenage girls in the corner by the window, playing a fairly intense game, while yesterday, groups of people had their Ludo boards set up outside, in the external part of this restaurant. Like a Ludo Championship.

And I just can't seem to keep away from the Irish tavern, and, for the first time in Spain, I've actually been given tapas. Jambon on tiny bread slices.
The overhead TV is still on, except the sound is turned right down, so we have the Spanish pop muzak thing happening. It's okay, it looks like a fairly dumb game show, with contestants being selected from the audience.
A news break, something about Bilbao and Vitoria, and the riot police are out, and the sound is suddenly turned up, and the pub goes very quiet, watching activists being manhandled, and the red white and green flags being torn down from some building in Pamplona.
More news, something concerning refugees, but I've no idea where they're coming from or attempting to get to; then an item about some huge smuggling bust, but I'm not quite sure what they were smuggling; now Saddam Hussein, on the American response to something, words and images of the military; now the price of oil, but I don't know if it's up or down, don't care at the moment, as I'm walkin'; images on the screen of flocks of birds; of women tying flowers into bunches; and more about the floods, and I suspect that just about wraps it up for the news.