The Road to Santiago.
Journal.

October 9, 2002
Wednesday

 

Just walking in the rain

Villamayor Monjardin to Torres del Rio

It's been quite a day. Actually it started out as quite a night. About 1:30 I had to get up to go to the bathroom. I noticed that I was dizzy and sweating. When I got back to the bunk, I tested my blood. It was 72 — I was going hypo. Shaking, I found the bag with my fruit in it. I struggle to peel an orange and also ate  a couple of lifesaver candies. I then lay back and waited for the sugar to kick in. In a few minutes the shaking stopped and later the perspiration. I knew then that I was going to be all right.

It was raining when we got up but stopped soon afterwards. MiguelAn, Sergio, Marc, Euan and my self all had a breakfast provided by the albergue. I was surprised that I had awakened no one during my travails. Breakfast was Dutch style which included coffee, bread and butter, and, most importantly for me, ham and cheese. With the ham and cheese, I had my own orange and kiwi, so I was able to have a low carbo breakfast for a change.

We all chatted awhile, dragging out the departure because none of us were anxious to walk in the rain. I was the last one to leave, as usual, but by then the rain was very spotty and the weather nice and cool-perfect for walking. In fact it was so perfect that with the flat terrain I was able to traverse the 12 K to Los Arcos in a little less than 3 hours.

The walk was in total solitude on goat paths through endless field of grapevines. (There was a bodega or winery in Villlamayor de Monjardin and I assume that all these fields were a part of that cooperative.) Occasionally, I would be overtaken by one or a pair of pilgrims, but the trail was so convoluted that you'd soon lose sight of them, so it felt like you were the only one in the country.

   
 
Sheep eating trees
Once I heard the cacophonous sounds of many bells — quite different from that of cowbells — and looked up the hill to see well over a hundred sheep and one shepherd moving quickly across the hilltop. They were eating everything in sight, including the leaves of the trees. They would stand on their hind legs and rip the limbs bare.

Got to Los Arcos and ran into MiguelAn. We were both surprised at ourselves for the quick pace that we been able to maintain so we both decided to push on to Torres del Rio to Viana was quite rugged even though it was only 8 K from one to the other. Before we left, Sergio joined us. For a while we all walked together. Then the rain started and Sergio fell behind to put on foul weather gear. MiguelAn kept trudging onwards, having previously put a poncho over himself and his pack. All I had was my trusty hat and my New Balance warm-up jacket, which kept both the rain and the wind off of my body. Unfortunately, my warm up pants were in the pack and I wasn't about to stop in the wind and rain, open up my pack, remove my pants, and try and to snake my self into them. I just kept going. I kept going and kept my head down. All I could see was the muddy trail beneath my feet and the drops of water falling off the brim of my hat.

About 2:00 my phone rang in my pocket. Fumbling, I pulled it out. "Hello?" It was home base. "How are you?" "Well other that standing ankle deep in the mud, rain and wind-I'm fine." "Is this a bad time? Shall I call you back?" "Good idea!" I finally got to Torres del Rio about 3:45, a tired and wet pilgrim with feet of clay-literally. It didn't take long to find the alburgue. It is new and quite nice but the twelve bunk beds took up the whole room. Everything was cramped and restricted like a jail cell. It reminded me of my college days of demonstrations and other juvenile carryings on. Perhaps the jail motif sprang into my mind when I saw the toilets. They were toilets without a toilet. Just a shallow 3-inch porcelain basin surrounded a hole in the floor. Sure, they give you two grooved areas to plant your feet, but after a day of toting a heavy pack, my legs were in no shape to do a third world squat-but I digress.

As I learned from my college days, I quickly grabbed a lower bunk in the far corner and scattered my stuff across the bunk in an attempt to stake out my territory. I adopted my best Robert DiNiro "are you looking at me?" pose, then switched to the Mr. T routine . . . flex your biceps and scowl. It seemed to work or perhaps it was because I was so much bigger than anyone else.

I wanted to visit the 12th century church for which Torre del Rios is famous. The girl at the albergue said to be at the front door of the church at 6:40 sharp!  I got there before 6:40 and Sergio was already there. He too believed what he was told. As more people showed 6:40 came and went. As I walked around the plaza, I noticed a sign that said if one wanted to see the church, call Maria Lopez. Well I had a phone but there was no number. Somehow I didn't think that "information" would have it. I asked a woman passing by if there was a woman living here named Lopez. She answered, "they all are!"
Soon a group of French people approached, with a man from Quebec that I had met in the alburgue. He had a set of handwritten notes that said that Maria Lopez lived down the street from the church, second house on the right. Off trooped most of the group in search of Maria. But a few Frenchman and myself said to each other, "why bother, they only have to come back here." Sure enough in a few minuets the troop came back with a matronly grandmother type carrying a big key. She let us in, turned on the lights, and answered any questions that were thrown her way. In the corner was a table with post cards depicting various aspects of the church. I bought a few as a way to contribute towards the upkeep. Maria had a stamp with the town's coat of arms which she obligingly stamped on the back of each card.

Dinner was in the restaurant that was on the other side of the albergue and was run by the same couple. The pilgrims who wanted dinner had all filled out reservations. Mine was for eight and was originally set with the others. (I had seen it when I arrived early and had a glass of wine.) After the French contingent came in I suddenly noticed that my name was at a table all by itself. It didn't bother me because I didn't want another night of incomprehensible French, since they never speak anything else. As I travel along whenever I meet another pilgrim, I say,"Buenos dias." Generally the pilgrim answers back in kind — be he Italian, German, Dutch, Swedish, or even American. They all try to answer in their best (or worst) Spanish. But the French-never!  It's always, "Bon Jour."  
The waiter (who is the proprietor of the albergue and the husband of the cook) was harried and frustrated with the group. He called over to me apologetically for being late in getting to me. I called back, "No molestes, tranquilo. No hay problema. Estoy contento con me vino." Don't worry, relax. There is no problem, I'm content with my wine. Well, that act of kindness resulted in a big carafe of wine — all for myself. I could see the Frenchmen looking at each other wondering how I got a carafe and they got a small glass. Later my friend offered a special dessert of yogurt and fresh fruit. It nice to have friends!
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