Patrick and I keep a daily diary, so we won´t forget any details when the time comes to write our best-selling "foreign devils abroad" book. (We have mixed feelings about these, as we heard that authors like Peter Mayle and Chris Stewart are now loathed by their native neighbors in Provence and Granada, respectively. Their readers were so excited by their colorful stories that they bought properties near the authors´ charming places and ruined everything.)
Because I am lazy and because we said it best the first time, I will share a few entries from the last couple of days.
Sunday: (written by Paddy) Ted arrived in the morning on a gigantic BMW motorcycle, dressed in leather and striding about like the Road Warrior. The Sock Monkey Pilgrim arrived later and gave us a little knitted monkey called Ruth, which is now guarding the kitchen. Reb made an excellent soufflé for lunch, seeing as we had 13 eggs in the fridge and more on the way. Much drink was taken at dinner, which resulted in me getting snitty with Reb´s mother over politics.
Reb note: Ted is 78 years old, a jolly fellow from London who managed to pioneer Community Organic Farming in California about 30 years ago. He´s known Patrick for decades. He rides around the world on motorcycles and writes books and lectures about his experiences. His best-known book is "Jupiter´s Travels."
Monday: (written by Paddy) Reb, Kim, and Reb´s mom up early and set off for Madrid airport. Ted and I walked over to St. Nicolas and saw Justi, the barkeep at Casa Barrunta. He got on the phone and ordered us a load of firewood. Should be here tomorrow or Weds.
Good spaghetti bolognese for lunch. Day got actually hot. Tomas working on the trough, will put in tiles left over from the bathroom upstairs. Reb and Kim back about 6 p.m., having stopped for cheeseburgers in Madrid.
Yes! Cheeseburgers and onion rings!
Tuesday: (written by Rebekah) Quiet day. Looking into a trip to south of France in early June to see an art opening and hobnob with Paddy´s old London pals. (It is dangerously near to St. Tropez. I don´t have a thing to wear!)
Took a stroll to Plaza Mayor, where Segundino Siblings still are laboring away on the family home. They showed me inside, it is going to be beautiful, as they´re keeping much of the old charming details. So far, anyway.
Best old detail is out in the back yard -- I commented on the old stone watering trough that´s moldering out by the well under a load of scrap. "That´s no trough, really," Maria Angeles said. "That´s a sarcophagus."
Sure enough, when they moved some of the junk over you can see the outline of a head and shoulders carved body-deep into the stone. It´s from Villa Oreja, where the monastery was, and the labyrinth is now. No one knows who brought it into town or when, but Milagros has one too, over in her chicken yard. Thousand-year-old burial vaults make great watering troughs. (I wish I had one. All I got is a Hole Of Mysteries.)(Both are great for putting extra dirt in, evidently.)
Wednesday: Still no firewood. Ted left early, off to Bilbao and from there to Germany. Me and Pad walked the dogs to St. Nicolas again, went most of the way with Jackie and Clementine, two charming pilgrims from New Zealand.
Lunch for eight: a Thai green chicken curry done with 1.5 kilos of chicken breast and the LAST of our green curry paste, alas! We were joined by Gary and Elyn, our New Mexicans-moved-to-Sahagun, and Judy and Paul, their travel-writer friends from America. Toured them through town, bodega, labyrinth, sarcophagus, chicken hut. They took lots of notes and pictures, including a great one of me holding Rosie Hen. Later on, Paddy had a wicked good time blogging about Republican senatorial shenanigans, giggling over the keyboard at his own evilness. He even e-mailed the guy a copy. Will be blacklisted soon. Firewood came at 9:30 p.m., now a knobby mountain outside the back gate. Still no sign of the 3 twin-size mattresses ordered last week. Got South Africans coming on the weekend. One hopes for the best.
Thursday: Beautiful day. It´s the Feast of St. Timoteo, so we gave Tim an extra bone to celebrate. Air is full of something itchy; I think it´s the fluff blowing off the cottonwood trees. Work continues apace in the patio. Decided to tackle the firewood early, before the afternoon heat. (Had to move it about 15 meters to the wood store and stack it properly... a heavy two-day job for two people with wheelbarrows.)
Yellow wheelbarrow had a flat tire.
Bicycle pump won´t work.
Nut and bolt holding the wheel onto the barrow is stripped.
Something making my eyes stream and nose run. I sneezed and sneezed.
Tomas took the second wheelbarrow to mix cement.
The chickens got loose again, and headed straight to the vegetable patch.
Pad helped chase chickens and wrestle the wheelbarrow, we took it into Sahagún to be fixed. "While You Wait" took a good two hours, so we bought nice mushrooms and had a leisurely drink at a plaza-side café, watching pilgrims and old ladies and toddlers go by. Back at home with Kim were two strange young hippie pilgrims, one a dead ringer for Sideshow Bob. They wore flipflops and dreadlocks, and downed coffee and milk and cookies, and asked if there was any work they could do for some money.
... Well, we DID have that great pile of firewood out back...
So we reassembled the wheelbarrow, and Tomas gave back his, and the silent youths schlepped tons of wood for us in the heat of the day.
They were strangely slow and quiet. I wondered if they were on drugs. Tomas, who knows about thee things, said they were hungry. They probably had not eaten in a day or more.
So I stopped judging them. We gave them a big lunch and money and a pair of Pad´s retired hiking boots and a bag of food to go. They thanked us and silently padded off down the trail.
We are seeing actual hungry people more often these days, looking to the camino not just for a vacation or even Enlightenment, but for a meal or a place to sleep another night.
May we always have enough to share with them.