October 8, 2002
Estella to Villamayor de Monjardin
|Soon I met a man also heading
for Irache. He was French but we conversed in Spanish and since we were
about the same in proficiency, it was easy and pleasant conversation.
He told me that his name was Pascual and that he already had been to Santiago
and was heading home to France. When I asked him if he wasn't going the
wrong way, he explained that he stayed in Estella because yesterday was
Monday and it was closed. (Most church-related sites are closed during
the afternoons on Monday. Generally a building is open from 9-1 and then
Pascual told me about the second, and probably more popular, attraction of Irache — a wine fountain. Actually it is two fountains — one has fresh water and the other fresh wine. It is situated in front of the Bodega Irache, a famous wine producer. When we got there, Miguel was eating his bread with a plastic jar full of wine. Next to the fountain is a vending machine where you can purchase bottles to take home. (It is considered gauche to take more from the fountain then that which you can drink while there. They even have a webcam there so you can watch on the Internet pilgrims sampling the wine. The address is www.irache.com. I haven't seen it yet, but I plan to check it out the next time I go online.
Inside the monastery's halls was a museum that depicted local life in the 18th and 19th century. That and the various architectural styles of the different cloisters made it an interesting departure from walking.
A half-hour later, I was again overtaken by Miguel. Since we were passing a restaurant/bar, he invited me join him in that cup of coffee he had been looking for. On the big screen was a Mexican musical group, which lead to a discussion of Mexican music. It seems that we both like Ana Gabriel and Linda Ronstadt.
Noontime I passed two young German women, who were having their pilgrim's meal of bread, cheese, and wine. The view was splendid, but due to a recent application of fertilizer, the smell was horrendous. I didn't know how they could stand it.
Ran into MiguelAn who was having a lunch of bread and wine. Since his water bottle had wine in it, I offered him some of mine. I told him that I was going to stop at the private alburgue in Villamayor de Monjardin rather that push on to Los Arcos. He wasn't sure what he would do. I didn't want to stop because I knew it was going to be steep climbing — we could see the castle on the high hill in the distance. I figured I would trudge on and eat once I got there.
About a half-hour later, MiguelAn passed me at a good pace. I told him that if he decided to stay I would buy him a drink in Villamayor de Monjardin. He said that we would meet at the fountain. Sure enough about an hour and a half later I saw his backpack in the square.
He had searched out the private alburgue which was in a house at the top of the hill just above the fountain. The proprietors were a Dutch couple for an evangelical group known as Oasis Trails. They were assisted by volunteers from Holland who would come for a couple of weeks at a time. Since the volunteers knew no Spanish, French and English were the other languages used along with a lot of gestures and smiles.
Even though it was evangelical, there was no proselytizing — just lots of literature. At the meal, the host recited the Lord's prayer which was familiar to everyone. This night, he chose to read it in English. As the only native speaker, I think I was the only one who heard all the glaring and sometimes funny mistakes. Still, it didn't take away from the sense of the solemnity.
|With the host and his wife, there were a volunteer
couple from Holland. The man's white beard and heavy Dutch accent made
me feel like that I was back in Ohio's Amish country during my college
days. The pilgrims included MiguelAn and me, Sergio (whom we hadn't seen
at dinner the previous night), a Belgium man, named Marc, and another
man from Sweden with a name which sounded like Euan (sp??) The meal was
family style which began with a big delicious mixed salad and a cucumber
salad. It was followed by several big kettles of chile con carne which
was served over white rice. I don't normally eat beans, corn, or rice
(carbos), but it was the only choice. It was delicious.
After dinner, I had to calculate my insulin dosage based on what I had eaten. My carbohydrate counter tells me how many carbos are in a cup of rice, a cup of corn, or a cup of beans. But was that a cup or a half cup of rice that was put on my plate? And when MiguelAn put another spoonful of chile on my plate, how many grams of corn and beans were in that spoonful. I had to guess and the amount that totaled up came to over 160 grams of carbohydrate where I normally eat 25 to 50 for dinner. I had to take a big dose of Humalog.