Christmas Day on the Camino de Santiago, at least our little strip thereof, is biting cold and misty, with very little visibility and very few pilgrims. The weeds along the path this morning were gilded in bright white frost. The fog muffled all sounds but the crows and our footfalls. Any pilgrim out here today is truly hard core. We saw one. He didn´t want to talk.
Pilgrimages plummet over the Christmas season, and for good reason -- the weather is really unpredictable, most of the albergues are closed for the duration, and this week quite a few more are closed just for Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) or Christmas day, too. The pilgs who travel with no money are up the creek, as the only accommodation around these days is the kind you have to pay for.
We did our big celebration yesterday, in Sahagún, where it´s warm. My family has a three- or four-generation history of holiday hospitality to strangers. so once we got the lamb in the oven we headed across the street to the albergue to gather up a few travelers for the feast.
No travelers. No albergue, even. They closed yesterday, for the holiday. I was peeved. Poor ol´pilgrims, out here in the wilderness on a major family holiday, and not even a municipal albergue is open for them. We put a note up on the door, telling them to come on over if they wanted, but we had no takers. Next year I hope to tell the people in charge we will take on the cleaning/hospitalero-ing chores next Christmas, if they´ll let us. We know how.
(Speaking of those things, I got my first hospitalero assignment for 2008! I´ll be at the pilgrim hostel in Salamanca, on the Via de la Plata, the first two weeks of March. I really like Salamanca, and this albergue is wonderfully situated, right next door to the cathedral. I just wonder how many pilgs are going to be marching up this secondary camino in March.)
Anyway... We drove very slowly through the mist this morning to Moratinos, where we gave the dogs fabulous lamb leftovers and tried to take them for a walk. They were a lot more interested in staying home and gnawing on offal than they were into blasting around under a Cloak of Invisibility. We also went to church. Someday I will blog about church services here... they are a unique form of Catholicism. But that is for another day.
For lunch is chicken stewed in a sauce of mushrooms we picked out in the campo in October. Seeing as one of our Christmas gifts from Libby was a book on The Deadly Fungi of Iberia, I thought it appropriate, if risky. Lib wants to take a couple of chicken legs with her, on her long journey. She´s taking the 7 p.m. train, heading home to Ohio, USA. I am not thinking about goodbyes right now.
Soon as we finish lunch it´s over to the Milagros´family house, for a post-prandrial coffee &/or orujo. These holiday events always send me into a zombie state: the combined challenges of 40 relatives shouting questions in Castellano, thick coffee and homemade ´white lightning´, and sugary desserts... and maybe a red-cheeked pilgrim or two, shanghai-ed off the camino outside the door.
Merry Christmas to all!