Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Yes, I do come home sometimes

Kathy heading for Pico Sagrada
Fun days at The Peaceable. David and Malin are here -- he fixed the computer beautifully, and tomorrow they are off to France to attend a wedding of two acrobats from Toulouse. When I think I lead an exciting and exotic life, I just look at these two and I know I´m still safely dull.
Just to add to the fun, this afternoon who rolls up to the door but the original John Murphy... the pilgrim our cat Murphy is named for. John Murphy is the most Irish man I ever heard speak. When David´s puppy tried gnawing his already gnarled pilgrim foot, John Murphy blurted "Ooh doon´tcha, by Jayzus!" He is a nice man, even if I only understand "soom" of what he says.

For the first time in many weeks I saw rain on Sunday. Summer´s long pointy fingers open cracks in adobe walls and roofs, and the first wet day of Fall is always an unhappy revelation of maintenance jobs neglected. Our bodega wants our attention. We bought materials this summer, and discussed how to get the job done, but we never got ´round to putting an asphalt barrier on the roof. We instead spent the weekend with Laura and Sam, a couple of blog readers from Oregon. It was strangely dissonant, being with two such American Americans in this very Spanish place. They´re not even pilgrims!  (and they brought blueberries!)

Filipe heading for the beach

 I spent most of last week in a Portuguese beach town with Filipe and Dick. I always see them in extraordinary places, as they are travelers, too: We´ve met up in London, Chicago, Rotterdam, Gouda, Ghent, Paris, Palencia... and now Altura. (I met Dick when I walked the Camino in 2001. He was my best Camino friend, another great gift given to me by this old road.) We only had a few days together, but we filled them up with sand and Campari, langostinos steamed in a cataplana with coriander and clams, big red Portuguese wine "liberated" from Filipe´s dad´s cellar, and conversations lasting long into the night in the dark back patio. It was sweet and delightful and sybaritic and rather allergenic, too. These two do maintenance on my soul.

I spent a good chunk of the best September weather out having fun on the Camino. I haven´t told you much yet about that -- I´d planned on walking the Camino Vadiniense, a climb down a Roman road from the mountain fastness of the Picos de Europa in Cantabria. But with the end of summer the buses don´t run to the starting point any more. We couldn´t get ourselves up there. So when Kathy, (my hiking bud from last year´s Camino San Salvador run) arrived with her hike-ready sister JoAnn, we settled for a revisit of the last 100 or so kilometers of the Invierno, the path I walked this spring.

This time it was much, much better. The ground was dry, so we could stay on the marked paths and get off some of the asphalt roads. (A lot of the lower-lying ways were flooded when I was there in April.) I had a good feel for the path, having taken so many wrong ways already. We didn´t get lost, not even once! Best of all, this time I did not have dysentery. Revisiting the scenes of the last days of my spring Camino, I realize how very weak and ill and lonesome I was. Poor old me. I am glad I gave it a second chance, because it IS a wonderful path. I am now working on a new English-language trail guide, and hopefully more people will give it a try. It is too hard for first-timers or tourists, so hopefully it will not become the littered, paved-over knucklehead parade that the Camino Frances is turning into.
Me and Kathy, laboring over the burning trail

The Invierno is a hard camino. I wore boots I bought in America in June, boots I thought were broken-in over the summer... OMG. I was wrong. My feet were blistered like a newbies´!
buddies drinking

But we stayed in some great places, and ate some really great food, and made an impact on supplies of Ribeira Sacra and Valdeorras wines. We suffered a bit, but we medicated well. And we met some real characters along the way -- including Joaquin and Esteban, two traveling salesmen from Noia, in Bar Toxa Octopus Emporium in Silleda. This is what the Camino is supposed to be about!

Oh, and when we arrived in Santiago, who did we run into, standing in line to enter the cathedral? George Greenia, our old bud from William & Mary, down in Virginia. He was just in town for a couple of days.  as the Spaniards say, "el mundo es un panuelo." "The world´s a handkerchief."
Three Chicas Americanas

1 comment:

Shenandoah bed and breakfast said...

The places like London, Chicago, Rotterdam, Gouda, Ghent, Paris, Santiago all are worth visiting places for travelers and possess immense attraction and scenic beauty.