One of our pilgrims has posted about us on the Internet... Margaret the Kiwi Nomad wrote about a day in the life of Moratinos, and even took pictures! Her blog takes you all the way from central France to Santiago. It´s an easy read, with lots of photos, too, if pilgrimage is one of your yens. ("Kiwi" is non-offensive nickname for somebody from New Zealand, by the way.)
It´s tempting to just send you to her for your blog-fix, but I´d be remiss. Things are hoppin´around here so hard I feel pretty whacked... (I slept in til after 9 a.m.!) and the Moratinos fiesta starts up today! When will all this fun ever stop???
Back to the narrative. The Vermut/Housewarming detailed in the last post was topped-off later Sunday evening, when my dear friends Dick and Filipe arrived. Filipe, a brain-DNA expert from Portugal, lives in Belgium, home of the world´s finest chocolate and beer. Dick lives in Gouda, Holland... home of some mind-bendingly amazing cheese, and peanut butter, and gin so smooth you drink it straight up. They brought some of each, except for the beer. They stayed around til Thursday, showing us how to roast chicken in a clay pot, "drown" octopus in red wine, and infuse pasta with the flavor of the sea. (Portuguese are amazing cooks, btw.) We stayed up really late every night, and took road trips in the day to see strange castles and buy more vino for bodega stockage.
Did I tell you I love these guys? I met Dick in 2001, when we walked the Camino, I met Filipe at Dick´s house in Holland a couple of years later. We´ve exchanged visits ever since, usually in some cosmopolitan international setting. This is the first time I´ve had these guys both to my home. It was a real celebration for me, as they´ve been believers in this Peaceable Kingdom dream since its inception.
Two days into their visit, Deirdre the Pilgrim stopped in on her way back to Connecticut. And that same evening, three just plain pilgrims showed up very late, looking for a place to lay their heads. Somehow it turned into a big, mellow party out on the patio, with twinkle lights and hand-rolled cigarettes and talks about Faith, Hope, Love, and Ambition. It was good having Filipe there, as he has never walked the Camino, and still looks at the whole phenomenon with a cocked eyebrow. He is a healthy injection of "real world" here in the middle of the Way, where mystical fancies and myths and dreams and self-absorption can run away with themselves.
By Thursday afternoon everyone went away. Suddenly it was just me, Paddy, Una, Tim, and Bob in the patio (Rosie, Gladys, and Blodwyn keep to the back yard these days.) I sat down, and noticed the swallows in the barn have their babies out on the clothesline, teaching them how to catch insects in flight. I felt good and sleepy.
That´s when we heard the church bell tapping light... a signal to each family to send someone downtown to hear some important news. We walked down. It was no time to feel tired.
The bell was a summons to all the women to snip some flowers from their gardens and bring them to the church for arranging. The men were expected to bring tools to help set up the temporary bar on the church porch, and maybe pay their water bill if they missed the announcement last Saturday. (We pay our water bills once a year. Moratinos residents share the produce of an artesian well and three other aquifers that flow beneath our streets, fed by the mountains about 30 km. north of us. The water here is of great quality and is very cheap. We didn´t pay our bill last year, due to some cutoff-date glitch on our property deed transfers. Yesterday we paid for two years´worth of water usage: 38 Euros. About $50. I love this place.)
Anyway, Paddy paid bills and watched while skilled men hammered the bar into shape. I was inside the church with the wimminfolk, watching while skilled ladies arranged zinnias, gladiolas, and roses into pleasing floral tributes. We have no flowers blooming at our house, and I know little about floral arranging, so I made myself useful by sweeping up the clippings and playing with the kids.
There are kids in town, three little scamps called Christina, Joel, and Annuncia. They assume I speak fluent Spanish, and very patiently correct me when I don´t (which is often, but I appreciate it.)... they love it when I "sound like the people on TV!" More kids are on their way, as this is the biggest weekend on the Moratinos calendar.
Today, Friday, is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, the first day of our annual three-day fiesta extravaganza. Houses are opened up, linen is airing-out on windowsills, and the church bell rings periodically to announce the start of a Mass, a magic show, a procession, card game, vermut, or concert. Soon the rockets will begin booming, and Una Dog will freak out and hide for a couple of days. Una loathes fiestas. I have mixed feelings. Read back on last year´s three-part bloggery, and you´ll see we are in for an exhausting couple of days and nights.
I´ll take pictures, and try to find a new angle on the annual story. But right now, I am ready for a nap.