When the day begins with instant coffee, bread, jam, silence, and nuns, it’s nice to know that it can end with a leisurely dinner of lentils, in the garden, with a roaster from Portland’s Stumptown Coffee.
Again, it’s the question of where you choose to stop and in which albergue you choose to stay that makes all the difference.
Several albergues in Hospital de Orbigo; I chose San Miguel for no particular reason. The courtyard was appealing? Upon closer inspection it was all a little scruffy. I noticed the upholstered couch in the back garden on my to the cold outdoor shower.
Nevertheless, the Portuguese hospitalero showed great care in determining which dank room to place me in (with the American coffee roaster and aboriginal social worker, of course). The hospitalero also had walked the camino roundtrip and had a credential 8 feet long filled with stamps.
No better way to make friends than with a cold six pack of cervezas in the courtyard. At a certain point, though it’s difficult to know whether it was the beer or the conversation about whether religion has anything to do with god that attracted a good percentage of the guests of the albergue.
Eventually we grew hungry. Do we go out? Do we cook? What do we have to cook? I have lentils, I said. Another had tomatoes. Chorizo was forthcoming too. And salad.
At the end of the evening that had begun with one pilgrim offering his bag of lentils, we returned three full pots to the refrigerator for the next day’s pilgrims.
From my view, it was a real life miracle of biblical proportions.