Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Nothing to do with spinach

My mind is full of things beside Spinach. It is good that so many of you enjoy food, but I will curb my enthusiasm before I launch into a panagyric on Cerrato cheese. (It´s my latest food discovery, and it could be the answer to many of mankind´s deeper questions.)

There are so many other pressing things to consider. Is Muhammad Al Fayed right: did Prince Philip really have Diana assassinated? Where is Britney Spears these days? How well will Raul Castro fill the jackboots of his brother Fidel? And will a new Ben and Jerry´s ice cream flavor spur the sugar-addicted American electorate to vote for Obama? Should I declare myself legally expatriate for US tax purposes? The intellect reels with it all.

Time for a walk out along the camino.

It finally started to rain last night, but not much. There are a lot more pilgrims in evidence -- This morning two pilgrim ladies were walking west together, under umbrellas, a Swede and a Korean. A Valencian man was walking the wrong way on the camino. He´d made it to Santiago a couple of weeks ago, then turned around and headed eastward, homeward. He had an umbrella, too. Nice. The fields are liking the rain. They´re going lime-green.

Here in Moratinos we are talking about how we might offer pilgrims something more than a park bench and a water fountain, and maybe punch up the village finances a bit into the bargain. Moratinos is unique among Camino towns in its total focus on farming. Pilgrims are part of the scene, but only the background. No one here has a bar or albergue or even a vending machine, so no one depends on pilgrims for income. We have no splendid churches or public buildings that might attract tourists... just the bodegas, which pilgrims first take pictures of, then use for outdoor toilets. The question is, how do we accommodate these passing strangers without creating a big workload for someone, or a big public expense?

And as if we did not have enough to do around here, Paddy and I are considering a lease on the school-teacher´s house in St. Nicholas de Real Camino. St. Nicholas is 2 km. west of us, and is governmentally yoked to Moratinos -- we have the same mayor. It´s got two bars and a pilgrim hostel and a really nice old church going for it -- it´s a lot more pilgrim-savvy, and better populated, too. The little brick house faces the threshing floor, and it´s dead on the camino. It´s owned by the local council, and it´s standing empty. Anyone who´s resident here, including us, can rent the place for a pittance. The availability has been posted in both villages since December, and so far no one is interested. Probably because it needs a lot of ´doing-up,´ and has no heating system. And it is small.

It would make a nice painting studio for Paddy, or a hideout for me when I´m deeply into writing something. Or we could fix it up nicely and rent it out by the month or week to Camino Heads who want to take a retreat, or taste daily life on the Meseta. (I know and love a couple of these characters, but I´m not sure they alone are enough to pay the freight.) It is important for me to always have some kind of project to work on. This one could be lots of fun, and would afford a nice opportunity to get to know the people of St. Nicholas. Even if it came to nothing it would not cost us a fortune.

We will go and see inside the place soon as someone finds the key.

Meantime, the workers are working here at The Peaceable, putting down the insulating boards in the salon, laying out long snakes of hosepipe in the old salon for the under-floor hot-water heat system. I pulled out the big mosaic intended for above the utility room sink. I showed it to Jesus the tile guy. I expected him to say no, as mosaics are not easy to install. Instead he got all excited about it, took measurements, drew it up on the wall, and truly cottoned-onto the idea of making it visible from the patio out front. Yay!

The electrician boys put in a lot of wiring yesterday, and we also have a wrought-iron handrail on the stairs, which we did not expect. We also got a monster-size aluminum door, intended for an upstairs room. I feel this door is magnificently ugly, but the Spaniards think it splendid. Maybe one of them can put it in his house. (Paddy is at this moment telling all this to Jefe José Castro, the boss. He seems to be taking it well.)

And now I am off to Villada, to pick up a package. And maybe some more spinach. Satay chicken for lunch!

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