Sunday, 9 August 2009


Summer is the finest season of the year. Everything is alive, green, and bright, putting all its energy into growth and ripening. The fields are cut and brown, but gardens are going full blast.

Our little garden, the scruffy outcome of months of work and planning, is cranking out tons of free vegetables. We´re filling up our freezer and our bellies, luxuriating in all the extra vitamins and minerals. Today it was zuchinni fritters, a red-pepper tortilla, and slices of tomato drizzled with olive oil. Yesterday it was baba ganooj and a pitcher of gazpacho. Tomorrow we may sample a melon!

Fresh food does not get any better than this, and I am careful to chew slowly and savor the gift. Most gratifying of all is the abundance allows us to share. Seems none of our neighbors grew eggplants/aubergines this year, so we´re handing out these purple-skinned wonders to whomever wants them. (And probably to a few who don´t, but are too polite to refuse.) For years now, the Julis and Milagros and Edu and Segundinos have been giving us bags of beans and peppers, figs and courgettes and squash and tomatoes and roses. Finally, we have something of our own to hand back.

We don´t see many pilgrims at our door these days. We are preoccupied with Una dog, who is recovering from her leg-amputation surgery. It is gruesome and shocking and terrible, seeing a dear friend maimed and suffering. Still, she is taking it better than any of us would. I only wish I knew what “normal” looks like, in reference to a catastrophic wound. She may be doing just fine. She may be fighting a terrible infection. She may be undoing all our anti-biotic efforts by licking the thing when we´re not looking. I just don´t know. We take her back to Leon tomorrow to find out.

I am not cut out for anything medical. Just changing Una´s bandages makes me cry like a baby, because I know I am hurting her.

I wonder if our lack of pilgrims is a failing on my part. We´re supposed to be here helping them out, but we´re holed-up at home instead, licking our wounds and eating our vegetables.

It´s not all joyless nursing here. Over in Sahagún the town is hopping with natives returned home for the holiday month and Asturians come down to enjoy the dry Meseta air. I need a haircut, but I shall have to live with my haystack demeanor for a while – even the peluquerias are packed-out! Bars and restaurants are offering all sorts of parties and specials, and one particular poster caught my eye:
Fiesta Hindu
Cafe-Restaurante Polideportivo
Comida de India
Cena completa 12€

This was unusual on several levels. First, the locals are NOT eaters of foreign food, especially something as potentially spicy as Indian. (I´ve learned to not bring “foreign muck” to community dinners, as it will go practically untouched. Even apple pie, and baklava, alas! )

Second unusal thing was the setting. The cafe at the sports complex is a rough spot, where you might find a crude sandwich or a reheated frozen “pizza” among the Cheez-Kurls and ice pops and cold drafts. Dinners? Exotic foreign cuisine? No way, Jose.

And the price! Twelve Euros for three courses and wine? Not on this side of Mumbai. And just the idea of Tikka Masala translated to a Spanish palate was intriguing. We were SO there!

And we were not disappointed. It seems an Andalusian-African couple is running the place now, and is making a real effort. The woman pinned a colorful Indian tablecloth sari-style over her dress, and wore her hair in a long black braid. The man tacked Buddha posters and elephant-print cloths to the dining room walls, and lit incense sticks on a table laden with tropical fruit. He dimmed the lights, and ignited our little tabletop candle. Which was, unfortunately, made for repelling mosquitoes. (Combine several tables´ worth of these with joss-stick incense in a garage-size room, and the effect is exotic to the point of pleurisy.)

Theirs was not like any Indian food I´ve eaten before, but it was tasty, abundant, and served with care and even flair. By candlelight. It was weird and foreign and lovely, a beautiful way to spend an evening at the Polideportivo.

We´ll be back. Every Saturday they will offer something different, the man said. Different, in Sahagún! Someone´s gotta support this kind of thing, even if we are all Anglos and Asturians.

We will bring along company, even. Soon our friend John Rafferty (aka “Johnnie Walker”) will hike to here on his epic journey from Madrid on an alternative camino. (he´s updating the CSJ Guide to the Camino de Madrid.) And Gareth, an English priest-in-training will show up here soon to help us out, part of his summer holiday. So we´ll have to get some pilgs in here to keep him occupied!

He´ll be here for the fiesta, coming up on the weekend of the 22nd. And here, too, will be Adam Levin, guitarrista, who is performing a concert for the village on Sunday afternoon. Word is the fiesta may be smaller than usual this year, as most of the Juli and Pilar families will be out of town that week. But we´ll do our best to beef up the numbers and jolly-up the joint with some charming foreigners. Maybe they´ll dance!


claire bangasser said...

One, bravo for your harvest. You're a thousand better than I am. The scale of yours reminds me of Eileen Caddy & Findhorn!

Second, you make me miss the Camino so bad my heart aches and I can taste it.

And though We'll be on it in a little over two months if my right foot can take it.

Still, I can see your place. I can walk into Sahagun, and I wish that we could either drop by at your place tonight or you would drop at ours...

Anonymous said...

You're a thousand better than I am.
Getting a Payday advance is just a few steps away

Anonymous said...

How'd the biopsy turn out??

Funny thing, seeing Una shaved.

She'll be fine. Don't worry!


Laura said...

Great photo of the two of you and the beautiful harvest!

Una looks like she knows she is safe and loved.

Ryan said...

Wowza! What a load of veg that is - so much good cooking going on it sounds like. Enjoy the harvest! I've got tomatoes and lime basil about to come out my ears.

Poor Una dog. So has the surgery potentially saved her from whatever tumor it was she'd got? I hope so - I've seen many a dog get by happy as can be with 3 legs.

Enjoy the Fiesta and tell everyone I send my good thoughts to Moratinos!


Anonymous said...

Can you give us an una update please!