October 29, 2004
La Caridad to Tapia de Casariego
In the morning when we looked out the door, the sky was clear and bright. Tepani decided to push through to Ribadeo, 40 km away. He wanted to go along the coast all the way to Á Coruña and then turn south to Santiago. It’s a route known as el camino ingles (the English camino).
|New England or Spain?|
|At some point, I realized that it was more than just the coast that made me feel at home. There was something else that was familiar. Then I realized what it was — the roofs of the houses. They had steep gables and were covered with slate shingles, unlike the standard roof in most parts of Spain. The latter have a shallow slope and are covered with red brick tiles which are curved and overlapping. These are made of slate, which is pizzara in Spanish and is found in the Galician and Asturian mountains. It is so available that it is used in almost all single family homes. In the U.S., our traditional slate roofs are very expensive. Therefore, newer construction has been given a similar look, but uses asphalt shingles, which are much less expensive due to availability. I have only seen asphalt shingles a couple times in Spain.
|Amazing picnic spot|
|By 1 o’clock, I was on the outskirts of Tapia de Casariego where I came upon a beautiful, small, roadside park which was on the edge of an ocean cliff. I decided to take a rest and make a call home to the U.S. I wanted to say “Happy Halloween” to Angelica, my goddaughter, and wish her luck in her night of “trick and treat.” I missed not being home during this time of year because I enjoy carving Jack o’ Lanterns with her. But I was premature; the town where Angelica lives will celebrate Halloween on Sunday.
Spanish cultures do not recognize Halloween, which is a secular (some would say "sacrilegious") manifestation of a very important day in the Roman Catholic tradition — All Saint's Day, which falls on November 1. It is a national holiday in Spain.
After the phone call, I had a light lunch of oranges and some cheese while I enjoyed the view of the breakers smashing against the rocky shore. Then I decided to locate the albergue before I would survey the town. Well, when I got to the main plaza in the town, I asked for directions to the albergue. Luckily, the first man I asked knew the albergue’s location. As I followed his directions through narrow streets, I came to an area that looked familiar. I was back at the seaside park.
|The albergue was a small yellow building next to the cliff. If it had been back home, I would have described it as a one-room schoolhouse. But schoolhouses in Spain didn’t look like this. The note on the door gave a name — Maria José — and a number. I called the number and the lady said that she would be there shortly. After a couple of minutes, a car pulled up and a woman got out, welcomed me, and opened the door to the albergue. After she checked the lights and the water heater, she stamped my credencial and gave me a key to the door. She told me that it was my individual key and that I should keep it on me until I left. Then, the next morning, I was supposed to open a small window in the bathroom before I left. After locking the front door, I was to go around to the side and toss the keys through the window.
As Maria José was about to leave, I asked her what the building had been originally? She said matadero. When she saw my confusion, she laughed and said para los animales (for animals). It was then that I realized that matadero meant slaughterhouse.
Fortunately, there was nothing left in the building to betray its history. The door opened to a large room with four single beds on one side and, on the other side, two large tables, each with six chairs. In the back on either side were the toilets and showers. A spiral staircase led to a loft which had an additional 15 or so single beds. The overall effect was that of a ski lodge — an empty ski lodge during the summer season.
|Leaving my stuff in the albergue, I made my way through the town to las playas (the beaches). It was there that I came upon a beautiful boardwalk that meandered along the heights which looked down upon a series of sandy beaches. It’s similar to the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, Maine, but the beaches here are more expansive. As the afternoon progressed, the waves got higher and higher. When I passed by the harbor on my way back to the albergue, I noticed that the waves were breaching the outer breakwater and spilling into the inner harbor.