On FaceBook I sometimes post what country is “in the house,” and often the followers enjoy a glimpse of life on the international pilgrim trail. Today it is Spain.
The pilgrim arrived this afternoon, a taciturn Valenciano with pale skin and worn-down boots. His name is Pop. His Spanish has an odd French twist to it. He did not take off his hat, or say much more than hello. He had a cup of tea, and ate up the cookies I sat down alongside. He was gruff.
He greeted Paddy with a “You clearly speak no Spanish at all.” Paddy surprised him with a reasonably fluent response, but nothing much more was said. Ollie shot me a look that said, “how rude!”
We get the occasional Spaniard in winter, and they often decide to not stay here, especially if they are traveling solo. We try to make them welcome, but we clearly are too foreign for them, our house and company a bit too intimate for comfort. I thought Pop might move along, too, but he was clearly exhausted.
We let him get on with his shower and nap. Ollie made spaghetti Bolognese. I found some good wine in the little kitchen, left over from Thanksgiving. Pop showed up for dinner.
He was transformed. Once he got his ear around our accents and some food in his belly, we chatted about Paddy’s painting studio, this week’s visit to a museum in La Rioja, the arts in Spain. And we learned that Pop is a professional puppeteer who travels from festival to festival doing “micro-theater,” 10-minute dramas performed on a stage the size of a bread box, using teeny-tiny marionettes. The audience watches through little peep-holes. He calls it a “Pop Show.” It originated in Brazil, he said, and it’s definitely adults-only entertainment.
And so our worlds expanded. We learned of an art form we’d never seen or heard of before.
Pop got a hot meal and some company after a long day on a lonely stretch of Camino. He went to bed early, smiling a big gap-tooth smile.
I don’t like flags, or nations, or the concept of countries and states and tribes. I think those ideas have served their purpose, and are becoming obstacles now to our evolution. It’s time we stopped celebrating the things that divide us, and focus on what we have in common.
But it IS fun to scan through the pilgrim registry books here at Peaceable and Villa de Grado and see where all our pilgrims come from, what place made them what they are.
Tonight it’s Valencia, over east, along the Mediterranean coast.
Spain is in the house, along with Germany, England, and the US of A.