This morning I start out at 7.00am and take a pic’ of a statue of a priest with a little boy in the Albergue grounds. This brings to mind all savage abuse that has been visited on defenceless little boys and girls by evil peadophile monsters posing as priests and in positions of trust.
Most of the over-nighters have left by now but I spot Suzanne from Australia in a cafe/bar just outside the entrance to the Albergue and I join her for some coffee and carbs. We decide to walk together today and as we go along we chatter cheerily about “this and that” …mostly questions about me and my story. Since I have little to tell and she is clearly not giving much away about herself, we talk about “global” stuff ! I do however, discover that she is keen on Islam and has clearly been exploring it lately. My Parents advised me when I was a kid to “stay away from debate on religion and politics”, so, I decide not to explore her relationship with Islam too deeply.
We find the walking easy today and admire the scenery as we go. About 10km out we find our friend Rosa sitting on an old Roman Bridge. She is having a short break (smoke) and obliges with some pic’s of us about to cross into the little town of Casas de Don Antonio. Rosa is a great character and is liked by all. She is planning to quit the “smokes” when she reaches Santiago. Good luck to you with that, Rosa ! She also uses plastic-coated tubular mop handles as walking poles…a little quirky but nice !
As we hike through the village we meet a friendly local gentleman outside a cemetary. He is Snr.Gabriel Pizarro. There are some beautiful artistic stone carvings on the walls and it transpires that he is the sculptor. Right now, I wish I could converse in Spanish and talk about his obvious talent…but we manage reasonably well with “Spanglish”. It turns out that he is also the “Keeper” of the Cemetary which is perfectly maintained and a great credit to him. The enthusiasm of this wonderful person is truly inspiring and it is an honour for me to meet him and to have my photo’ taken with him. My best wishes to you Gabriel and may you have a long happy life and continue to always enjoy it to the full.
The next interesting thing we find is an ancient Roman “Miliario” (Milestone). Suzanne takes a pic’ of me beside it and I allow my imagination to wander back to a moment when some tired Roman might have looked at it and calculated how many miliarios he had yet to travel. Apart from the massive strides in technology/science since those days, not a lot else has really changed.
About 6/7kms further on we pass through a town called Aldea del Cano and after a short rest and a food and water “top up” we move onward to Valesalor (11kms) which will be our stop for tonight. Suzanne has a note of a Bar there where we can get our Peregrino Passports stamped and collect a key for the Municipal Albergue. No problem finding this bar as the din from within is a giveaway ! A cerveza (muy, muy frio) is never so welcome. Then my Italian friend, Giuseppe arrives in and declares that he has seen the Albergue and that it is not up the most basic required standard. He and some others have arranged with the bar owner to book rooms in his family’s private hostal a short distance away. Suzanne and I join them and check in.
There is not much to do here apart from a stroll around town and a beer or two and some food in the “local”. So, I decide to have a really good sleep tonight and crash out eariler than usual. The Albergue is in a nice quiet street, so, what can go wrong ! But yes, there will always be something ! Just across from the Albergue, about three generations of local women arrive outside a front door…. a few of them are carrying little low stools, and then the racket starts.They are joined outside the doorway by a couple of female residents of the house. The oldest lady sitting on the doorstep and at the back, seems to both initiate and control the “conversation”….boy, are they loud !! The “noise” gets loud, louder and even louder until it reverberates through the area. God only knows what they are debating/discussing but damn it, I don’t know and I can’t sleep. Then the town clock strikes eleven times and the “chicks” across the street scatter as suddenly as they had appeared. Silence truly can be golden, sometimes, and now is one of those times.
Good night all, at last, and barring any more surprises, we should get a half decent nights sleep.