The weather is chilly and wet. It´s the time of year that the bread won´t rise and the check don´t come in the mail, and nothing else happens either. Except for here. Moratinos is hot!
The big house on Calle Ontanon, ("Ideal for Albergue!"), finally sold this week, two years after the “For Sale” sign went up. Word is it´s been bought by an Italian confraternity, who already have their licenses and permissions in order and should have a pilgrim hostel up and running by April 2010! I´ve been over the house myself, and it really is very suited to the job, with room for a stable, even. (Had it been on the market in 2006, we may have bought it ourselves. But we were lucky.)
We haven´t met the new owners. We wonder if they´re related to Maurizio and Jacopo, a lovely Italian father-son pair from Milano who stayed with us in August, scouting out locations for their confraternity´s next albergue. Their group, the Perugia Confraternity of St. James, runs a unique pilgrim refuge in Puente de Itero, right on the county line with Burgos – it´s in an abandoned church, out in a field, and only has room for eight pilgrims. There´s no electricity, but they manage to feed and wash and accommodate pilgrims by candle light, from May to October, in a quiet Christian way. I hope they´re the same group. We will know soon, I imagine.
The Moratinos Albergue Star must be ascendant, because Leonel the Cuban and Ana, his girlfriend from Barcelona, are coming back to town tomorrow to make some decisions about the Alamo/Casa Tortuga. It´s looking a bit discouraging, but things are known to change quickly around here. We like Leonel. He´ll be a great hospitalero. We hope he gets his dream, even if it might be in some other town.
So, after false starts by at least three different sets of Camino dreamers, Moratinos will finally have a regular place for pilgrims to stay. I think it is the final Camino town without a pilgrim facility. There are no more I know of, and I kinda know this trail.
I hope some pilgrims still will find their way over to our place now and then.
I am working on the book, writing every day, at least two hours, in a disciplined way. I need to get my chops back if I´m going to convert these thousands of pages of daily doo-dah into a cohesive narrative. It is an overwhelming job, but I confess I am enjoying myself. I am dreaming it, even. Nothing in this world, nothing at all, is as enjoyable to me as writing something I can really get my teeth into, about something I am passionate about. (And at the breaks I am reading P.G. Wodehouse´s “Jeeves” stories. What a hoot!)
What I need is an editor. And a good office chair. And a working wifi connection.
John Murphy Cat is still in the animal hospital in Leon, but we should be able to bring him home tomorrow. Two surgeries, three broken legs, and God knows how many Euros… He had better be the world´s best cat after this. I hope very much the surgeon did not forget to throw in that free cast´ration he promised. If I must own the only Bionic Cat in town, I don´t want him limping round the streets looking for love. Just look where that got him.
Una Dog loves Murphy. She will be happy to have him back. I hope we can keep her from dragging him around by his head for a while, at least til his legs are healed and he can pretend-fight back.
The mushroom field is finally producing. This week MariAngeles and Leandra showed up at the door with a basket full of at least three kilos of fresh, anise-scented champiñones, including a few rare “blue-foot” models. Beautiful. We´ve since feasted on mushroom soup, omelettes, and shish-kebabs, even… and now we have some big ones in the freezer, too. (here are photos of two lovely pairs: Dick and Filipe in Gent, seeing if their goose is cooked, and MariAngeles and Leandra and All That Fungi.)
Community-wise, Moratinos (about 10 of us these days) is working on the décor in the newly refurbished town-hall meeting room. Old photographs are being disinterred, framed, and hung up on the walls for general ooh-and-aah purposes. Paddy and I undertook to make a graphic “key” to identify some of the 40+ people in a couple of pictures from 1979, an enterprise that´s sent us deep into Sahagún and our bodega, seen us constructing a homemade light-box and creating lots of strange drawings and confusing charts of numbers. This afternoon I met with a goodly group of neighbors to match up the faces with the names.
Ladies brought goodies and tea. Milagros brought cream-filled “buñelos de viento,” which translates to “puffs of wind” in English and “blintzes” in Yiddish. Julia sent over a fine fresh pumpkin this morning, so this afternoon I turned it into a classic American Pumpkin Roll, and brought a nice chunk with me to the get-together.
The neighbors are suspicious of our cuisine. Some of them won´t even try a bite of any of my foreign muck. (I do not feel offended by that – I have, myself, drawn the line at local offerings like Pig Face and Fried Blood and Toasted Lark). So I almost expected to take most of it home again with me. … but the Cream-Cheese Icing snagged ém. They scooped it up with their fingers, saying they´d never tasted anything quite like it.
Lucky them! Imagine tasting cream-cheese icing again for the first time. It´s gotta be right up there with your first taste of home-made Buñuelo de Viento.
Or pig face.
Or saffron moonshine.
Or blue-foot mushroom.