Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Crabs on the Plaza

As brown as the landscape´s become, things are rather colorful inside our walls... or maybe just inside our heads. Or our mouths.

I started out this week with colorful language. I drove with Pilgrim Deirdre on Monday morning up to the Ikea store in Oviedo, a two-hour trek up and over spectacular mountains and through several very steeply priced toll collection points to do a long-put-off shopping trip. The stars had aligned. I´d found someone who spoke English (she is Irish) who likes to shop and doesn´t mind riding along. The weather was fine. We´ve had the rooms measured for months, and a good shopping list made up, so we could get in there and get back out with a minimum of zombie-like suffering.

It all went swimmingly, til we got there.
There were no cars in the parking lot. A few would-be shoppers stood disconsolate outside the doors of the Ikea and the surrounding shopping mall entrances. (I instantly flashed back to "Dawn of the Dead" and considered the great attraction malls exert on zombies. There´s got to be a connection.)

Evidently Monday was the Feast of St. Daniel. The nearest village to this vast shopping complex, somewhere back in the Middle Ages, chose Daniel as its patron saint. Therefore... all the surrounding businesses took the day off to celebrate. Including Ikea, which bills itself a multinational, Sweden-based conglomerate.

Bad language ensued, and a rather makeshift sort of furious dance. Later on we ate some bad Chinese food, and headed to Leon to shop instead. We didn´t buy very much, as by then my once-a-solstice urge to do big shopping had passed. (We did get feta cheese, which makes everything taste wonderful, so it wasn´t a complete waste.)

Green is my favorite color, and another good thing buy-able these days is Pimientos de Padron. These are tasty little green peppers you fry in a panful of olive oil and sea salt until they are shrunken and black. It´s said every tenth one is hot, but I find them a bit more frequently than that. And in between are the sweet, salty, blackened ones... to me, this is what the color green tastes like.

We have red, too. This morning, using fresh tomatoes and peppers and cucumber and onion, I made the second batch of gazpacho of the summer. Oooh it is GOOD this year! (It is a soft red color. But it doesn´t taste like red. The real red comes later...)

Yesterday afternoon we sat out on the patio under the umbrella and had sangria and talked about pesky things like ex-husbands and the fly infestation, and important things like which Camino path Deirdre oughtta take next. And who should come to the gate but Marianne.

If you´ve read this blog a while you know that Marianne is Irish, and she and her erstwhile English ex-guyfriend James were here in Moratinos when Paddy and I arrived. They were building an earth-plastered bio-friendly albergue we called The Alamo, until they went back to Ireland in December "for the winter" and were not seen again. (James went off to Thailand in the meantime. The Alamo went up for sale, with me as the DIY estate agent, seeing as I accidentally had the only Alamo key in the village.)

And yesterday afternoon Marianne came to the door for the first time in half a year. She stayed about four minutes.

She was breathless, in a mad hurry. James was waiting, she said. They only have til Thursday morning to clear out their old apartment and do whatever needs doing in the Alamo, she said. She handed back the copy of my old novel she´d borrowed, way back when. She did not sit down for a sangria or a chat. We still have the Alamo plants we took from there and resurrected. They still have a brand-new Mongolian Yurt tent stored in our barn. We´d like to buy their electric scooter, but they cannot find the key to start it. Unfinished details.
But she had to go, had to go, had to get the heck out. She wanted the Alamo key, I handed it over, and she fled. We haven´t heard anything since.

It was as if she was frightened for her life. It was disturbing and sad.

Last night, after gazpacho, I took Una for a spin in the gloaming. Out in the plaza was a card table and chairs, and Pin and Celestino, feasting. They had a couple of bottles of Celestino´s own rosé, and a nice salad from the garden, and a potful of rice and beans and little "cangrejos" they´d caught in the afternoon in the Rio Rioseco, over in San Nicolas. (Cangrejos are "river crabs," a big honkin´form of crayfish.) They gave me a little dish, and a glass, and we visited a little.

Pink wine, and bright red crabs. Shellfish -- lobsters, crabs, and all those poor crustaceans that go bright red when plunged into boiling water -- they are what Red tastes like.

Out of the darkness stepped two little French-speaking ladies... one French, one Swiss. They were trying to get to St. Nicolas before the refuge closed, and they weren´t going to make it. Long story short, Pin and Celestino fed them salad and cangrejos. I took them home, and they slept on the mattress in the salon. They´re traveling hard and rough, with a big gang of über-conservative Catholics. Four American priests along, in full drag too, they bragged.

The ladies slipped out before dawn. And through Moratinos all morning streamed their compatriates, praying the Our Father out loud in Latin and swinging their rosaries in step. And there among them, well-scrubbed and smiling and looking about 21 years old each, were their four black-robed Fathers.

Deirdre is off tomorrow, starting her second camino from right here at the Peaceable!
I asked her to pray through her trip for my Uncle Dale, who doesn´t have long to live. There´s something powerful about pilgrimage, they say.

Uncle Dale will find out.


Michael Barham said...

I'm thinking Catholic Spain meets Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

To Wong Fu, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.

And Michael Barham

45N93W said...

The image of those pilgrims "swinging their rosaries in step" reminds me of the old days. In those days some churches used to have "rosarios de la aurora" (rosaries at dawn). Obviously some citizens didn't care much for people making noise and singing so early in the morning so sometimes the celebration ended with some yelling and shouting, at least. Hence the Spanish expression "Terminó como el rosario de la aurora". No xlation needed, right?


45N93W said...

The "rosarios de la aurora" took place outside the church, walking around the neighborhood.

Elizabeth said...

With all the crap that's going down around the Toledo area right now, reading about the Peaceable makes me really, really want to be there. Sigh.

Michael Barham said...

Hey there, just posted some pics of Peaceable on my blog, and reflected a bit. Let me know what you think... hope it's an accurate depiction.