Eager to escape the hospitality of Pedro, I hatched a plan to get out of town early.
It took quite a while to traverse the 6km to Santo Domingo de la Calzada and as I passed through the much talked about village in the sleepy pre-9am hours, it didn’t seem all that impressive. The parador was lovely, but alas no cafe con leche at this early hour.
On the way out of town I ran into the Spanish woman I had met at crazy Pedro’s and who was convinced we could communicate better in French than English. She was looking for an atm and kept asking for directions in English, but but demanding responses in French. Sheesh!
On the way in to Granon it started to rain. Just a little spitting. Something that had not as yet impeded my progress. no rain yet on the plain in spain. . . I took cover under the porch of the church with a cafe con leche and met some brits. . . one had misplaced her i-phone. There’s something about how the british travel. . . they go everywhere, well-prepared, and inquisitive but always bringing the traditions of home. I remember sharing some tea on the transsiberian with the distinct impression that the Empire might have fallen but colonialism was still alive and well.
I play well the role of the foolish American. no poncho in my pack and so as the rain started to let up ever so slightly I set out in the mist amidst the concern of many German grandmothers.
The plan was to go to Belorado where there were many beds to be had but be open to the possibility of calling it a day in villamayor del rio where one albergue had a special relationship Paulo Coehlo.
Upon entering del Rio, the sky continued to spit and most everything was closed up tight. (Did I mention it was Sunday?) Not even a cafe con leche to be had in the town square or a sign leading to the favored lodgings of the world’s favorite bestselling brazilian neopagan rockstar.
So I walked on through the rain. . . by now quite cold and wet through the accumulation of many hours under the sky’s tears.
A newish private albergue stood on a hill on the outskirts of Belorado. It’s architecture reminded me of an Ozarks motel. I’d get a bed in a room of 100, purchase a bottle of wine and box of espagetti from the front desk and try to get the French ladies to help me understand how to turn on the stove with no success.
Instead, after a very long and hot shower (what these modern private albergues lack in charm they generally make up for in water pressure) I walked into town for the pilgrim’s mass where I sat with my new Sicilian not-a-member-of-the-mafia friend and was enamored by the priest’s lisp. Also the prayer is pretty good too. From the 12th century codex calixtinus:
God, You called your servant Abraham from Ur in Chaldea, watching over him in all his wanderings, and guided the Hebrew people as they crossed the desert. Guard these your children who, for love of your Name, make a pilgrimage to Compostela. Be their companion on the way, their guide at the crossroads, their strength in weariness, their defense in dangers, their shelter on the path, their shade in the heat, their light in darkness, their comfort in discouragement, and the firmness of their intentions; that through your guidance, they may arrive safely at the end of their journey and, enriched with grace and virtue, may return to their homes filled with salutary and lasting joy.
Lisp and Spanish not withstanding, I got the gist then went on for a perfectly dreadful dinner on the dingy second floor of a downtown bar. It was here I decided I would no longer depend on the pilgrim industry for my nourishment.