The Road to Santiago.

October 25, 2002

For ever

Carrion de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza

That morning, I stopped in a café/bar to have breakfast. As usual, all that was available was coffee, donuts, bollos (rolls), and danish pastry. I had heard that along the 17 K to the next albergue there were no cafes or restaurants so I decided that I should eat something and had a danish pastry.

When they said that there was nothing for 17 K, they meant nothing! Not a city, not a village, not a house! Only a couple of deserted barns. The constant wind in the face and the occasional rain made the 17 K walk along a flat and non-changing countryside very unpleasant. I felt like the kids in the back seat of the car saying, "Daddy, are we there yet?" Instead, it was, "Oh, God, are we there yet?"

So after a miserable four and a half hours, I reached the albergue. There was plenty of time left. The weather had improved and I should have gone further. I felt guilty for not doing so, but my feet were sore and all my clothes were dirty and wet. Soon Gudrun came into the albergue. She too had had enough for one day.

I was so tired that after I changed out of my wet clothes, I crawled into the bunk and immediately fell asleep. After an hour and a half, I was rested enough to get up and do my laundry.
It was too early for dinner, so I asked Gundrun to join me at the bar for a drink. Gudrun then left to call home to resolve a problem she had with her bank card. I was about to leave when two other pilgrims, Vincente from Madrid and MiguelAngel from Alicante, asked me to join them for a drink. Thinking myself an ambassador from the United States, I felt obliged to comply. Soon another man, Chris from Los Angeles, entered.

Before long it was dinnertime and we marched en mass into the dining room. We were joined by Gudrun and a young man named Cormack. He was from Ireland and had that twinkle in his eye that let you know that he really was a leprechaun.
Another group of pilgrims came into the dining room, including two young women. Seated between them was the thirty-something hospitalero. It soon became obvious that his volunteer job as a caretaker of an albergue was motivated by other than religious or altruistic reasons.

Usually an albergue is quiet by nine o'clock, with the lights out at ten. But this night there was rock-and-roll music with dancing until eleven. Then the lights went out but a scented candle was left burning. After about twenty minutes, I couldn't stand the smell any more and quietly got up and blew out the candle. As I crawled back into bed, I think I heard someone whisper, "Thank you!"

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