The Road to Santiago.

October 16, 2002



Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Belorado

It turned out to be a lousy day but a wonderful evening. First, the cock woke me at 5:30 a.m. And then, just as I got back to sleep, one of the early risers got up and the sound of zippers woke me again. I finally rolled out of bed at 6:45. When I went into the anteroom, I saw the young Italian packed and ready to go. He said that his blister was much better. Rufino's little operation seemed to work well.

For once, I was not the last one out. Two young guys from Brazil had to be rousted awake by the crew that came in to make the beds and clean the kitchen. A woman from Holland was sick and asked if she could stay an extra day. They consented.

Again, it was another sunny morning and I saw a rainbow in the distance. But very soon the rain came. Rain and wind, lots of wind. It was then I realized that a rainbow meant that rain was coming! The wind was so strong I could barely make headway. I was in the middle of a field; there was no tree or other place to take shelter. I just had to lower my head and keep going. After about an hour, I reached a village and ran into Rudy and Hannah. The rain had stopped, but we decided to stop for coffee and dry off.

When we started out again, the sky was clear and the sun shining brightly. I saw another rainbow in the distance. But this time rain didn't come. Instead it was wind we had to contend with — lots and lots of wind. It wasn't very cold and the wind quickly dried off my clothes, but the strength of it made walking very difficult.

In another village I ran into Rudy again and saw him go into the small church. I followed him in and was glad I did. For in there was a 12th century baptismal about which I had read much. It is a splendid example of Romanesque carving.

The wind kept up all afternoon. Then, about 3 K from my destination, it started to rain again. I was so frustrated that I just wanted to get through the day. So, I increased my pace and practically ran the last part of the trip. It didn't matter that my feet were hurting, I wanted a hot shower!

As if to make up for the day, the albergue was one of the best I have been in. It was beautiful, with nice bunk beds, pleasant sleeping quarters, new showers with plenty of hot water, and a small but attractive backyard garden. The dining room table had fresh apples and figs from the garden. But the best thing, it had a washer and dryer. The hospitero did my laundry for only 6 euros, for me a bargain.

Inga found a 5 euro note. No one claimed it so I suggested we get some wine for everybody. I came back with 3 bottles of rioja table wine, and sat down to talk with Rufino.

Rufino went to Germany 35 years ago where he met Inga; they married and had a family. She is now retired and he still works for Air France in Frankfurt. They have two children. I asked them if they were more German or Spanish. He said that his son was very Spanish but that his daughter was all German. I commented that they were just like the parents.

The congenial conversation continued at dinner. We were joined by Inga, Rudy, and Hugo. Hugo is married to Rudy's wife's sister. He is Swiss, but from a different part of Switzerland. His native tongue is Italian and he can pass in Spanish. So, I talked to Hugo and Rufino in Spanish, and Rudy in English. Rudy and Rufino would speak to Inga in German and translate back for me. It sounds complicated, but it was quite fluid and interesting. This has certainly been a week for connecting with people — mostly very congenial folk — willing and anxious to help each other and especially amenable to conversation.

[Editor's notes: This sounds like what Michener says in Iberia (p. 865) when he describes "… I had a sense of what … people experienced as they picked their way from town to town… finding occasionally at some monastery or hospital a friendship so warm as to reward them for all the hours of isolation."]
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