Monday, 26 October 2009

The More Things Change

We live in a little town in a great, wide plain. A great, wide sky yawns open overhead every day and every night, offering an ever-changing spectacle to anyone who bothers to look up.

Down here in Moratinos, the Center of My Universe, the past week has been dramatic, a wild ride full of emotions and characters, conflict and contemplation.

The sky opened up late last week and down came Leonel, or Leo, a lanky, grinning Cuban guy who looks like Fred Astaire. He´s crazy about the Camino and really, really wants to live in Moratinos. He decided to buy the former proto-pilgrim hostel on Calle Real, right where the Camino comes into town, a place that´s stood empty for two years. Dozens of interested people have taken walks through the old place, which maintains its characteristic adobe face and rustic, Palentino feel. Up til now, all the dreamers decided against taking up such a big project. Up til this week. Up til Leo.

Like thousands of other pilgrims who pass by appealing-but-empty places on the path, Leo´s taken with the idea of rebuilding a distinctive old farmhouse into a pilgrim hostel of his own.

He made an offer, and as such deals do, the buying process became a roller-coaster ride, played out here at our house. (The water and electricity supply are turned-off at the old place, so we told Leo he could stay here while he hashed things out. Leo´s a professional gardener, so he took out his room-and-board in hoeing and pruning and advising on planting and trees. Nice.)

Spain is a dramatic place. Big change occurs here with an invasion of Romans or Moors or Charlemagne or Napolean or a Divine Visitation, or an Inquisition. Buying a tumbledown house can be just as exciting, evidently. It feels quite Revolutionary while it´s going on, especially in a town as tiny as this one. It seemed like the whole population looked on while for days foreigners trooped up and down Calle Ontanon, taking back things stored or left behind, accounting for what belongs where and to whom, measuring, taking notes and jabbering into mobile phones.

A handshake deal was worked out on Sunday, paella prepared, and toasts drunk to the health and wealth of everyone involved. If all goes to plan, Leo and Ana, his Camino girlfriend from Barcelona, will in late November be our new neighbors, dueño and dueña of "Casa Tortuga."

Other things are changing too. Brian trained early in the week to be a hospitalero, and he starts his first two-week assignment on Saturday, in the big, busy pilgrim shelter in Ponferrada. He is raring to go. We are raring to get him there, as the house keeps filling up and we need his room, and we´re running low on building projects to keep him busy.

Tomorrow a quartet of new faces will arrive on a 9:30 train: our old bud Adam Levin the Classical guitarist is coming with a violinist and two recording engineers. Over the next few days -- if the roaring tractors and the bread-man´s blaring horn will allow -- they plan to record an album in the Church of St. Thomas, right here in dear old Moratinos.

The four of them will attempt to stay here at The Peaceable between sessions at the church. Meanwhile Brian will pack up his gear, the dogs and Murphy will continue the ongoing war against invading field-mice, and Paddy will flee to Madrid for a much-deserved few days of peace in the museums, botanical gardens, and whatever Dens of Iniquity he can rustle up. I will stay here and soldier on until November 4, when my turn comes and I can fly off for a few days of fun and music and feasting in Belgium. Busy, busy, busy.

Among all this hubbub and humanity and change and planning, it´s important to remember a few facts about who and where we are.

Through the heart of our town flows a great river of seekers and suckers, dreamers and schemers. A few of us are bound to fetch up on the shore to put down roots and, hopefully, enrich the environment somehow with our living and working, sinning, forgiving, and dying.

None of us is here forever. We come, we stay a while, and then we disappear, even though the problems and dramas of today seem so vitally important.

We live in a little town in a great, wide plain. A great, wide sky yawns open overhead every day and every night, offering an ever-changing spectacle to anyone who bothers to look up.


Anonymous said...

wow...the alamo lives!

glad you are too!


The Solitary Walker said...

Lovely piece of writing, Rebekah.

Mazoo said...

Well done, Rebekah. I agree with Solitary Walker. I knew something was abrewing at the Peaceable. May your association with Leo take some of the burden off you two, eventually. Mazoo

Ryan said...

You're referring to the Alahmbra/Alamo here? Or another building closer to the edge of town?

I'm not shocked that someone was inspired by that place - it's not hard, as you both well know. So much of the Camino makes you want to just set up and live there forever. I hope the next time I visit it's up and booming.

How are relations with the folks in San Nicolás?

I've some exciting news that I'll e-mail your way soon. xoxo