I thought I achieved a whole day's work on Thursday morning: a terrifying Spanish tutoring session, bright red tomatoes in the garden, seven eggs from the hens, and new alternator and timing belts for the car. I bought a six-pack of beer at the supermarket, because Daniel was coming on the 1:30 train from France, and Daniel might like a beer on a sunny day like this one.
While I was out, the long-awaited wine delivery arrived. I was feeling mighty efficient when Daniel's train pulled up at the station right as I did. It was great to see him. I'd finished up my chores, and could enjoy a nice relaxing visit.
Back at The Peaceable Paddy had lunch already made up. Two pilgrims were settling into the salon -- a couple from France. They did not want food, Paddy said. They spoke no English, but Daniel speaks French.
Daniel is a surfer dude and wilderness medicine expert from northern California. He trains hospitaleros for American Pilgrims on the Camino, and sometimes volunteers at pilgrim albergues here on the camino. We met years ago in Toronto, but he's never managed to visit us in Moratinos.
He put his things in the upstairs bedroom.
The doorbell rang. A third pilgrim, a bedraggled young man from Poland. Bruno's albergue is full, he said. He had no money, but would happily sleep in his tent out back, he would work for his keep, he said. I brought him inside, shook his hand. He had a fever.
"You're not well," I told him.
"It is true what you say," he said.
His name was Pavel. He had walked all the way from Posnan.
I put him in the third bed in the salon, the last one. The couple did not seem so happy to see him, but too bad.
I gave a beer to Pavel, to get his electrolytes back into balance. He didn't want anything to eat.
We sat down to our lunch. We had some of the new vino, which is very good indeed. We cleared up. The sun was hot and high. I went out to the patio to put some laundry on the line. The doorbell rang again.
Two young Germans, looking for a place to stay. They'd come 32 kilometers, every bed at every hostelry was full, could they sleep on our floor maybe? I told them we were at capacity, too. I could give them a ride in Sahagun, where they'd have more options. Meantime, they should come inside and take a break out of the sun. They doffed their boots at the door.
Daniel poured cold water for them. Paddy rescued their boots from the dogs. They asked if they could make some calls to the albergues on the trail ahead -- It looked like they were in for a 40-kilometer day.
I remembered the mattress stowed under Daniel's bed upstairs. The spare. One of them could sleep on the sofa, and one on that mattress. They were delighted at the idea. We hauled the mattress down the stairs and into the living room.
Daniel volunteered to make Piperade for dinner -- a Basque recipe he learned on the road last week. It would use up a lot of our tomato and egg backlog, and with some rice would stretch to feed all eight of us, even the one who couldn't do gluten.
We never had eight people in here before. This was a real stretch. I could see that wild look in Paddy's eye, even as he quietly set the table. He told dog stories to the girl from Hamburg, who set to work on chopping tomatoes.
Out back, Eduardo delivered a fragrant tractor-load of cow dung.
Dogs were fed. Blistered feet were patched up. The Polish boy was dosed with minerals and Ibuprofen and went immediately to sleep. Again the doorbell.
A man called Jean, from Quebec. Could he stay? He was old, and had just walked all the way from Carrion de los Condes.
"Come in and sit down," Paddy told the man. (Behind his back Paddy made his best imitation of Edvard Munch's "The Scream.")
"Jesus," I said quietly.
The boy from Darmstadt switched on when he heard me say that. "That man could be Jesus, you know. If he needs a place to sleep he can have my mattress. I have a mat with me. He is an old man, and I am young. Please let him stay."
We did. He spoke French with the French, which seemed to please them. He chose very well from Paddy's records. We ate to the Modern Jazz Quartet.
Dinner was huge and filling. Some people had three servings. The evening was soft, the company sunburned and sleepy, but good-spirited. Daniel passed round a chunk of Camembert. Jean washed the dishes. By 9:30 p.m. the mattresses and sleeping mats were sorted out, and the pilgrims folded in on themselves.
Tim, Rosie and Moe curled up with me in my office, where we would not disturb anyone. I opened the final beer, which I had selfishly hidden for myself in the back of the fridge. I sat back in my comfy chair and sighed.
Daniel stuck his head in the door. He looked exhausted, but he smiled.
"Thank you, Rebekah. What an opportunity," he said. "I'm loving this."
He went to bed. Within five minutes, through the wall I could hear him gently snoring.
The moon lit up the world outside. The owl shrieked.
From the next room, from down the hall, from the salon below came soft sounds of sleep.