Thursday Tidbits

Posted on May 16, 2019 under Thursday Tidbits with 5 comments

“….with a billion stars all around.”
Peaceful Easy Feeling. The Eagles.

A few mornings ago, I left my Alburgue (hostel) at 5:00 a.m. alone. Normally, there are always pilgrims (other masochists who like to start administering pain to their feet first thing in the morning)already out the door but not this day. With no towns or villages in the first 10k, I had the trail to myself.
But on the Camino, you’re never alone. I was joined by billions of stars including the Big Dipper. The moon was a stunning orange colour. Thousands of frogs were croaking.I walked through a stand of trees, the only ones for miles around. There, I was greeted by the cacophony of hundreds of birds. A brilliant sunrise greeted me 90 minutes into my walk. I felt in awe and very serene.

I was feeling particularly blessed on this morning having had the best sleep of the trip the previous night. Besides a great sleep, I realized unadulterated joy when I discovered that I had a pair of fresh, unsullied underwear in the bottom of my knapsack. It’s hard to believe that finding clean underwear could evoke such joy but on the Camino, you travel light and clothes tend to get recycled as laundry facilities can be hard to find.

Two days earlier, I had slept with 100 other peregrinos (pilgrims). After a night of enjoying the sounds and smells of a hundred people burping, farting and, of course, snoring (there were even arschlochs who kept their cell phones on, a no no in the albergues), and a 41 kilometre walk I treated myself to a private room in this small village.

When I arrived in El Burgo Ranero that afternoon, I was nearly dead. The last three hours of my 41k jaunt were in 30 degree heat. You’ll have to read my Camino book later this fall to understand my apparent lunacy.

Victor, a pleasant young man, checked me in and checked me out. This wild eyed Canadian was in desperate need of a cold beer. Realizing my plight, he scurried off and returned with two frosty Estrella’s. I could have hugged him. Actually, I did. He popped off the tops, we clinked bottles and I slaked my thirst. It didn’t do a lot for the three new blisters I acquired that day.

After a second beer and a shower, I was in bad need of sustenance. Victor told me that the best restaurant in this tiny village was on the Main Street. It turned out to be the best and worst restaurant in town as it was the ONLY one in town!

Walking very gingerly on achy feet, I arrived at my destination to discover that the owners, a youngish couple in their thirties, were having a full scale war. Their little son was crying as the two went toe to toe in an epic verbal war. Charming.

I was ignored for five minutes. I was deliriously hungry and the plastic flowers adorning my table were beginning to look appetizing.

The man and his son left and the female, dabbing tears from her eyes, approached my table. I pointed to the menu board on the wall and ordered chicken breast, along with a glass of red wine. I practically begged for the immediate delivery of some bread.

With hand gestures, she indicated that this entree would take one hour. I gathered that this would entail the killing, eviscerating and de-feathering of the helpless bird. It was obvious that what she really wanted was for me to leave so that she could compose herself or administer the same treatment to her husband as the chicken.

A wee bit exasperated, I pointed to the chalkboard once more and waved my arms indicating that she could choose my supper. Another interminable 10 minutes passed as delirium set in.

My gracious hostess (a one person staff this day), approached my table with a plate of cheese, fresh baguette and a bottle of the finest red wine on the planet. I could have hugged her but decided discretion was the better part of valour, concerned that hubby might return unannounced provoking World War 3 and possibly ending my life.

The cheese, bread and wine nearly brought me to tears, such was their exquisite taste. The second course was a fresh salad of chilled prawns, fresh tuna, tomatoes and onions topped with a salad dressing of Spanish olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Had I died right then and there, I would have died happy.

She then called me to the counter and produced trays of home made sausages of different varieties. I indicated that sausages were fine. She might have worried that I was a vegetarian! I can’t begin to describe how delectable these tasted when pan fried.

She insisted I have dessert… ice cream. I was too full and filled with bliss to say no.

I was running low on cash and wondered how I would pay after this feast. Oh yes, when she opened the wine bottle, she just left it on my table allowing me to pour my own.

It was easily the best 13 Euros I had spent during my time in Spain. She then walked me through a hallway to the back of the building so that she could show me her magnificent garden.

She kissed both of my cheeks and gave me the biggest hug imaginable. A potential nightmare turned into a highlight moment of my Camino.

One last thing. It will be a year tomorrow that our mother died. She was an O’Flaherty, of proud Irish stock. On Monday when I arrived at my albergue, I asked the desk clerk if there might be an errant ball cap lying around as my Tilley hat was drenched with sweat and quite disgusting. I wanted to sit outside with my friends and wanted a fresh chapeau to protect my bald head from the hot sun.

The clerk disappeared. “Only one hat, sir,” he said. Slightly misty eyed I looked to see a slightly oversized black baseball cap adorned with a bright green shamrock.

Have a great weekend.

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Comments

5 Responses to Thursday Tidbits

  1. Mary MacPherson says:

    Leonard, you are amazing. What a glorious story. It would cost millions to convey this on screen, yet you present it for us in short order and with great humor. I felt like I was there. Bless your Mom. I remember her humor and graciousness. Hale to your feet and have a wonderful journey.

  2. Katherine Reed says:

    Wow! That was a fantastic short story, Len. I was right there with you through all the highs and lows. It was a delight!

  3. Shelley says:

    So eloquent – I could picture every moment you described… and I love how your mother has clearly been looking out for you. Safe travels, Len!

  4. Anna Mac Donald says:

    Amazing story.Very interesting

  5. shirley Brown says:

    Wonderful story & thanks for the laughs ! Looking forward to your next book ! Safe Travels !!

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