The Road to Santiago.

November 3, 2004

Photo of Monasterio de Vilanova de Lourenzá.
Monasterio de Vilanova de Lourenzá

Barreiros to Lourenzá

When I woke up in the morning, I turned on the TV only to see John Edwards speaking “live.” My first thought was that Kerry had won. I couldn’t be sure because I couldn’t hear him. The Spanish commentators were talking over his voice. Soon I realized that the election was not over and that it was incredibly close. I went downstairs to the bar to get a cup of coffee and to ask what was happening.

Xesus had a large screen TV with cable channels. When he saw that I was having trouble following the rapid Spanish, he offered to change the channels for me. He punched up CNN International. This news show appears on several channels each in a different language. So I was able to listen to the English version.

I spent most of the morning in the bar. Everyone who entered the bar asked the same question: ¿Quien ha ganado Bush o Kerry? (Sounds like “boo sh or care eee”). Then they would ask me my opinion. It was a good morning for the political junkie within me.

Unfortunately, I tarried too long in the bar and it got to the point that there wasn’t enough daylight left to walk to the next albergue. In addition, it was raining. I had a choice — take a bus or pay for another night in the pension. As you may suspect, I opted for the cheaper solution.

Photo of medieval bridge.
Camino passes over medieval bridge

By the time the bus entered the village of Lourenzá, the rain was torrential. Fortunately the bus stop was next to a restaurant. When I entered the dining room, I realized that it was too late for la comida (the afternoon meal). But the middle-aged waitress and her mother, the cook, insisted that I sit down — that they would take care of me. And they did. I had ensalada mixta y calamares de romano (mixed salad and fried squid rings). Of course, it came with vino and postre (dessert), a torta de Santiago (almond tort).

The mother repeatedly came out from the kitchen to make sure that I was happy with the meal. She was quite proud of her cooking and this particular meal justified that pride. Both ladies were interested in my story and asked many questions about what it was like where I lived. They were impressed with the fact that I could speak castellano. I think they haven’t met very many norte americanos (North Americans).

Since the rain hadn’t let up, I went into the bar. The bartender gave me a glass of Sherry which I sipped while reading the local newspapers. One early edition was especially interesting. It said that John Kerry had won the election and went on to explain how he had won. It seems the youth vote was the key for him in carrying the critical states of Ohio and Florida. I asked to buy the paper from the bartender so I could show my friends back home but he insisted that I keep it gratis (free).

Photo of Lourenzá albergue.
Lourenzá albergue

Once the rain stopped, I found my way to the albergue. A note on the door gave the instruction to call Susi. She answered on the second ring and told me she would be there pronto (soon). Susi must live around the corner because she appeared in no time. She let me into the albergue and had me sign the register while she stamped my credencial. Then she showed me how to start the butane estufa (heater/stove). When I asked her about a key, she said that she didn’t have an extra one. Instead she demonstrated how to put a magazine in the door so it wouldn’t lock. Before she left, she reminded me to be sure that the door was locked when I left tomorrow.

The albergue had a nice kitchen with utensils, so I decided to cook a good meal for my supper. After Susi was gone, I turned off the butane stove, stuck a magazine in the door, and walked to the pueblo. Soon I found a panderia (bakery) where I got a fresh loaf of pan (bread). Then I located a supermercado where I bought some provisions — lomo, tomate, y mandarinas y, por supuesto, vino tinto (pork loin, tomatoes, mandarin oranges and, of course, red wine). On the way back to the albergue, I stopped at a newsstand to pick up the late editions of a couple of papers.

Since my clothes were pretty wet, I changed into my warmup suit and washed my laundry. During the evening, while I ate supper and read the newspapers, I hung my clothes in front of the estufa. It did a good job drying them. I had to be careful, however, that they didn’t get too close to the flames.

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