Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Por Fin

The Old Teacher House, demolished this week to make room for the new bodega restaurant.

May, a month of non-stop company. People I love, people I like, people I kinda tolerate. The Visitor Book tells the tale.
People with whom I have an instant rapport: Denise, a pilgrim from New Zealand. She rubbed my neck and shoulders after a very long day. It is usually me who does this for other people. When it happens to me, it is something truly special. And when I need it as deeply as I did that day, well. It is divine. 
Generous People: Dael the Scot. A retired traffic cop is not the person I would usually pick out for ongoing companionship, but Dael came here at his own expense and spent three weeks working his tail off, for nothing, right alongside me. He did not complain, or say no, nor even punch out a drunk who criticized his kilt. He worked so hard and so efficiently he worked himself right out of a job. He was supposed to stay through the end of May, but finished up everything a week early. So now he is off walking the Camino Ingles (even though he finds the name of it repugnant). He will go back home to Hibernia once the great Icelandic ash cloud passes... or so I assume. A simple and generous man, who puts his back into work he believes in.
People who are part of our lives: Dennis, another Scotsman and habitual pilg, lives in France but stops by here now and then -- he came to Moratinos this time straight from the Nation´s Capitol, on the Camino de Madrid. (all roads lead to Moratinos!) He is a former steelworker and high-school teacher, educated and  opinionated. Paddy enjoys the intellectual company... and someone who can match him wineglass for wineglass. I trained him to be a hospitalero last year, and this morning he is off to France to volunteer at a small pilgrim gite in LePuy -- ash cloud permitting.
John rolled up, too, an English pilgrim who stayed with us last year. He is tall and bony and very funny, and handy. He and Dael installed a much-needed new light fixture in our kitchen before church on Sunday, thus saving us a good 50 Euro that would otherwise go to an electrician. It works just fine. But John emailed from Mansilla de las Mulas, two days after he took to the trail again: While looking at the ceiling in the last albergue I am minded to strongly suggest that you get the next Peregrino with DIY skills to tighten the hook on which your kitchen lights hang --wood breathes and with changes in humidity the screw hook may loosen,"   he wrote.
Me and Dennis fixed it this morning. John, you can rest easy now.
Tourists: We´ve also hosted pilgrims sent our way by Daniel, the entrepreneur hospitalero who is opening the two-star Hostal Moratinos here in town someday very soon. (He hosts people in Carrion de los Condes, a long day´s walk to the east.) He sends his hikers on to us lately, at least he does until he opens his own place out on the opposite end of town. Some of them are great -- including NZ Denise above. These travelers are an economic class above the usual run of pilgrims. They stay at hotels, hostels, casas rurales. They don´t mind spending money, unless they can find a great deal.
We are a great deal, or at least we were for one German man this week. He is an executive for a luxury auto company. His feet were a mess. We patched him up and fed and watered him, put him in a good bed, reserved him a room in a four-star in Leon (he speaks no Spanish), and I took him along when I drove there. For all this he gave us his hearty thanks, and 50 Euros. (the taxi fare there alone would be 100 Euro, and he knew that.) I had business in Leon anyway, so it was not a complete loss. But I decided to give up on driving pilgs there unless it´s an emergency. It is always somehow a losing proposition.
And then there are Divine Providence people. They take up the slack. I think of the two sweet Irish ladies who stayed last night in the Salon. They scrubbed their own laundry, they stripped their beds, they even washed up the dishes after dinner. Just hearing them talk was like soft music. This morning at dawn they  gave us hearty thanks, too -- and a donativo that more than paid the tab for the executive German skinflint.  
(After they left it took a while to find where they´d put the sheets. They turned up in the clothes hamper in the bathroom. Imagine using a hamper for its intended purpose!)
We have a couple of other people about the place now: Albaniles. Giorgio and Achtzehn (or something like that) are Bulgarian immigrant builders, and I gotta say this... They leave their Spanish counterparts in the dust when it comes to price, quality, communication skills, and work ethic. By 9 a.m. each of the last two days they´ve been up on the garage roof, hammering and cementing and installing. And when a big thunderstorm rolled through this evening, the garage was, for the first time in several years, leak-free. They will repair the winter-damaged main roof, too, and they install a new paved patio out back, with a drainage channel. (Dael advised me these are jobs too big for me and my volunteer legions. My aching joints thank him.)
I have another volunteer coming in July to help with heavy things. I wonder if there will be any heavy things left for him to do! Meantime, Moratinos is heaving with heavy equipment, builders, pilgrims, and important-looking men with clipboards. Progress is here. I am not always sure I like it, but some people say we started it.
These enterprises are locuras, José told me -- foolishness, wild dreams. José and his brother Esteban, farmers and fertilizer dealers, are dreamers. They are building a bar and restaurant in a cave in a town that had no services at all a few months ago... and will have three bar-restaurants when theirs is finished. 
"You wake up one morning with notion," José told me. "Like you guys, leaving everything and moving to Moratinos. For some people, a locura works."
May God bless José´s locura the same way he´s blessed ours. (Maybe they should name the place "La Cueva de Locuras?") 
Today we took Dennis and an injured Norwegian lady and four backpacks to Sahagun. When we came back to The Peaceable, nobody was here but me and Patrick.
Nobody is scheduled to arrive before next Tuesday.
Nobody except the builders, who like to leave us alone, and the dogs, who give as good as they get.
I love pilgrims, and family, and visitors, and friends, and I really like volunteers. 
And after a non-stop month of all these blessings, I am ever so happy to just sit here with Tim, Rosie, and Murphy, listening to another storm blowing in.

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