It is a dark and stormy night. Gale-force winds rattle and hum and scream through the streets and down the chimneys.
We knew it was coming. José told me this morning, as I stomped through the rain with a couple of Korean pilgrims toward home and coffee -- "Get these people to the albergue in Sahagun, unless you want em with you all night. A gale is coming this evening out of Galicia. Dangerous. It´s going to blow all night, and it´s going to pick up things and throw them around."
And like most farmers predicting weather, José was right as rain. Just about 6 p.m. the breeze picked up. We shooed the chickens into their shed, battened shut the sagging garage doors, and took all the dogs out for a final breezing.
It was like a Tarantino movie, beautiful and violent and strangely lit. We walked in drowned dusk, a balmy wind pounding at us from two directions, down the camino toward Terradillos just in case some pilgrims might still be coming our way. None. Just Segundino and his wife, likewise out for a last breath of air before the storm. They opened their arms at us, yards away, and staggered toward us against the wind. We opened our arms, too, and slo-motion ran toward them, like Heathcliffes and Jane Eyres across the empty moors. The tempest grabbed our laughter and flung it out toward San Nicolas.
Darkness fell, and a full moon lit up the scuddy sky. The news had just come from Chile -- earthquakes and tidal waves. Closed highways here, storms and crashes and looming economic ruin for Spain, Portugal, Greece, England... And this winter, so harsh and torrential. The abandoned house on the edge of town lost more of its facade today. It´s teetering. I wonder if we´ll hear it when it falls, or if the wind will swallow up that sound as well. At the new albergue to construction crane is rocking, weaving in the gale. If it goes over, it goes straight into the building. I am glad The Lads are gone home for a break. They do not need to see this.
We are alone in the house, me and Patrick and the animals. It is lean and delicious. We don´t cook. We open a bottle of good wine. We talk about St. Teresa of Avila, and we fill up the bathtub and 5-liter water bottles, because the lights are flickering. We put a frozen pizza on top the hot woodstove. We cover up Bob´s canary cage. We feed the Galgo Girls and tuck them into their straw-bale nest in the barn. And then, as if on cue, the electricity fails.
It flickers to life, browns down, fails. Flickers, fails. Almost like lightning, but with a bright full moon´s worth of light coming through the windows. When it´s finally fully dark, we light candles, dig out a DVD Kim left behind, and fire up the battery-powered laptop. We sit at the table and watch a costume drama while the night howls and roars around us. We drink Vino Virtud, we eat bad pizza, we scratch Tim´s head (propped on the chair between us) and laugh when we´re supposed to be deeply moved. We hold hands in the dark. The movie ends, the credits roll. The candle burns down. Una moans on the floor, twitching in a dream.
From out in the dark comes a shout, a man´s voice, one of the neighbors. The gate slams open. A flashlight beam rakes the patio. Pilgrims. The dogs leap from their beds, caught by surprise, indignant. The pilgrims´ hats and hair are plastered flat against their heads.
"Darlings! We´re so glad to find you! We´re here!" the lady warbles. "Tumbleweeds! Orphans of the storm! Hope you don´t mind?"
Naah. We weren´t doing anything, I tell her.
Nothing at all. Just sitting here in the dark.