Thursday, 25 October 2007

Monosyllables: grout, slog, bog, dump, Swiss, gifts

Lots happens in a few days. We are cramming a whole lot of living and working and whining into small spaces of time, which seem to fly past us. Thanks for your patience. We only have an internet connection in Moratinos, so gone are the long, pensive evenings of blog-crafting. (by 10 p.m. we both are sacked out cold at the apartment in Sahagún.) But as for writing, am back to working on deadline! Hooah! (the picture here is the view out our balcony window. That´s the church of San Juan de Sahagún in the morning light. Nice, no?)

The tiles: there are just over 200 of them! Me and Patrick the Czech just spent the past three days laying them into concrete, trying to level and line them up just so, with the little foursquare patterns just right. Not as &%%$ easy as it first appears! After much fussing around and swearing (and some singing, too,) we got an acceptable center bit laid down, with ´white cement´ (which is really sandy brown) laid all around the edges. We couldn´t tile all the way to the walls because the walls are angle-free. The despensa is, after all, just a cave made of mud.

It is an extremely amateur job. I am in for a hard slog getting the film of grout off the faces of the tiles... I ran out of energy before I could get that all finished up. There´s only so much one person can achieve after 9 hours on her knees. It is drying now. A real tile-layer would weep. Still, I am kinda proud of it.

I´m prouder of the dolphin mosaic. James built a step outside the despensa door, and I embedded the mosaic fish into that. I grouted it today, with special marble grout. It´s looking good! And the wall next to that, I used cob (the same mud-straw mix our house is made of) to repair some bad spots, then James showed us about mixing up slip from red earth and water. It puts a really lovely coffee-brown color onto the adobe and cob. And we now have a cool little niche outside the despensa door for a candle or a little Graven Image. It is good to stay busy.

Yesterday was a case in point. In the morning we poured concrete and scrubbed tiles, and Paddy made vegetarian rice and spinach for lunch, and at 2 I got a call from Miryam, a Swiss pilgrim who is part of the Couch Surfing group (if you are a traveler and don´t know about Couch Surfing, check out their website! It´s a wonderful idea Ryan showed to us.) Anyway, Miryam was in Sahagún, and we agreed to put her up in the apartment for a couple of days, so we took Tim the Dog with us into town to meet her.

Miryam had a bad dose of Pilgrim Lurgy (a stomach virus romantically attributed to bad water or Pilgrim Menu dinners) the night before, so she´s taking it easy. Fine for us, as we have so much going on, and are incapable of staying up late. Paddy took Tim to the vet. (Tim still has a nasty cough.) Miryam and I met a great crowd of pilgrims outside the albergue, Americans and Kiwis mostly, all of them feeling green around the gills. It´s kinda fun to be the one who knows stuff about the town!

We loaded the dog and Miryam into the furgoneta and headed back to Moratinos to drop off the dog and check on Patrick Czech´s progress in plastering. We stopped at the dump on the way to drop some broken tiles and concrete. Big mistake. It rained all day yesterday, and the place is a bog with a single-lane road leading to it... no turning back. We got the debris dumped, but that weight may have been what was keeping us on the road! On the way down the mud reached up and took control of the car and dragged it sideways into a ditch. It was an eerie experience indeed, and thankfully we did not roll right over on our side.

Poor Miryam. Innocently touring the beauties of northern Spain, she finds herself stranded in a rural dump turned mud bog, with two dusty foreign strangers and a stinky, honking dog. I took her picture.

Long story short, we phoned up the Milagro Brothers, and Estebanito drove out with a tractor and pulled us out of the hole. No harm done. Thank goodness for mobile telephones, and kind neighbors with heavy equipment! When we got to Moratinos we found the electricians had been there, and started installing the new mains box on the outside wall! (For unknown reasons they buggered off early, though. Maybe we need to move furniture (AGAIN!) out of their way? To where will we move anything? The mind boggles!) Oh, and the postman brought a care package from Kathy in California... full of marshmallows for Thanksgiving sweet potatoes! I love surprise packages!

After all that Miryam took us to dinner at the best place in town. We had fresh grilled mushrooms and roasted red peppers and lamb ribs. She was still feeling peaked, and settled for rice and artichokes. We all slept very well. Living is tough, but full of little gifts, too. I think our luck is slowly changing.

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