Sunday, 16 September 2007

Hard Labor and a Forced March

We didn´t make it over to Burgos after all. We spent the weekend here at the Peaceable Kingdom, mostly. And it was good.

We had no internet service for three days, which just about sent Paddy over the edge. Here I thought I was the web junkie. It helped to focus us, once we got past the whining stage.

On Friday afternoon Libby and I went over to the Madres Benedictinas convent in Sahagun, because my bud Mariann (aka ´la Suiza´or ´the Swiss´) was expected to come and run the pilgrim refuge there for the weekend. (I may have posted a little while ago about that... if they don´t have a volunteer to run the place, they just close it down. Which is sad. And which is why I agreed to run it for a week at the end of August. Mariann is a volunteer hospitalera, too. She is from German Switzerland, and speaks a very interesting mix of languages, sometimes in the same sentence! Luckily she chooses the languages I can deal in.)

Anyway, Mariann hadn´t arrived yet. We gave the nuns a dozen eggs from the hens (which the nuns use to make really lovely almond cookies, which go toward their support.) The outgiong volunteer hospitalera showed Libby through the place, which is quite luxurious by pilgrim refuge standards. It´s the old novitiate, where the incoming new wannabe Benedictines were kept and trained, lo those many years ago. It´s perfect for a pilgrim hostel, and it has its own little garden. And those BELLS.

Anyway, as we were leaving the volunteer told us she is from Asturias. I told her Mariann, her replacement, also has a place up there, along the coast in a village called Otur. And then I said, before witnesses: "Espero que ustedes puedan encontrarse. Tienen cosas en común." ("I hope you two can meet one another, you have things in common." It was only after we left that Libby laid a revelation on me: I had said, off the cuff, a sentence in perfectly constructed Subjunctive Mood. Without even knowing it! It made my day, thinking maybe something of this course is soaking through my thick head! Yippee!

Mariann showed up later. She hung out with us Friday night at the Peaceable, and updated us on the latest at Eunate, the mysterious Templar church and refuge in Navarre where she was hospitalera on and off for the past year before they unceremoniously kicked her out in May. Long, sad story. The camino is full of nasty politics and back-stabbing as well as peace, love, and understanding.

But it´s good to see Mariann back in the swing of hospitalero-ing. She is a natural. A bit of a strange bird, but this place seems to attract and foster those. Mariann, as is her habit, slept in her camper van out in the driveway, then hied her way off to Sahagún in the morning. Lib and Paddy let me sleep in til 10 a.m., which was deelish! And when I got up everybody got to WORK! Libby and I cleaned up the patio. If you look at the patio pic a couple of posts back you will see what we were contending with: tons of busted bricks and masonry, beams studded with nails, plastic sheeting by the acre, scaffolding, floor jacks, and overgrown and negelected garden plants. (the ones not crushed or suffocated under the debris.) We shoveled it all up and hauled it out, it took HOURS, but now the patio is transformed! (well... a bit.) Paddy, wise man, stayed in the kitchen and gave it a serious scrubbing. He made vegetable puree for lunch, and fed us beautifully.

With Libby here, and only one double bed in the dispensa, we have to take turns napping. It´s funny. And it keeps any one person from sleeping too long and getting cranky.

After our siestas we did Forced Labor Part 2: The Chik-N-Hut. Yeah, we´re still working on that bear. And the third person made it so much easier: two on the ground to muscle the great, heavy sheets of corrugated asbestos up onto the roof, and me up there to slide and haul and rassle it into place. (believe it or not, I am the lightest one of us three!)

The job still is not finished. They are forecasting rain overnight, so we will see in the morning how the place holds up. Meantime, the chicken girls are staying in the next stall over, up against the woodpile. They like roosting up on the kindling. (Put the two together and it´s a tiny step from roosting to roasting. But I don´t tell them that.) They all are still giving their all, and producing an egg per day per pullet. You can´t beat that.

With much of the ugly corrugated roofing stuff put back aloft, the back yard looks marginally better now. If you overlook the great pile of debris (formerly on the patio) that we put out by the gate. And if you don´t look at the still-monumental pile of scrap wood still awaiting its turn with the chainsaw. Someday...

We played Scrabble after dinner. Paddy and Libby are both certified Scrabble Sharks, but from somewhere I pulled a full seven-letter coup: "addition," good for 104 points! Et voila! I won!

And today, to better condition Libby for her upcoming pilgrimage, we skipped Mass and hiked to Ledigos and back: about eight miles total. Still not a full day by Camino standards, but we started out late and walked into the noontime heat, and Libby´s still getting accustomed. On the way back we stopped at the fuente in Terradillos for a breather. My mobile phone rang. It was Madeline, a woman from Nova Scotia I met four years ago in Toronto. She is on the camino, she said, and she wanted to meet up. She was in... Terradillos! Jeez O man, how likely was that? She was sitting in the refuge about 40 yards away, so we ambled over and had a little visit. I wish we could´ve brought her home with us, but there is no place to put her yet.

On that account, we have all our paperwork filled out (that we know of) and Libby and Paddy are coming with me tomorrow morning to Leon. While I am in class they´re going over the Consumer Advocate office in San Andres, to possibly file the complaint against Bozo & Co... If that´s what the bureaucrats advise. Maybe this will get them moving, or maybe at least communicating with us. And after we´re finished with business, we´ll go for a serious tapas crawl in Leon´s Barrio Humedo...where they are famous for giving you a little snack with each drink you order (including soft drinks or coffee!) You can eat very well for very little money there, and meet cool people and taste interesting and strange things, like Stewed Ears or Fried Blood or Roasted Red Peppers stuffed with Deviled Crab. Ooowa.

So things are moving forward, kinda. Maybe. Or at least we are distracted enough not to be feeling too suicidal. Or homicidal, for that matter.


KM said...

Rebecca: On the 11th you posted a picture of you standing in a doorway that seemed to be set into a hill side. What is that structure? Are those others in the picture of that picture. Is the hill a natural mound or a constructed on (it looks like some of the burial mounds on the U.S. prairie but maybe it is just the angle of the picture).

I am enjoying your log. I hope your adventure still lives for you. Enjoy your daughter's visit.

KM said...

Dear KM (keith?)
If you read back toward july´s blog entries you´ll see what the construction is... It´s our Bodega. A wine cellar carved out of the hillside over on the other side of town. They threw it in when we bought the place, and what´s in the pic. is the shiny new face we put on it over the summer. The inside is still a black cave full of strange objects and unidentifiable liquids, all kept at a steady 61-degree F temperature.