Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 30 - Zamora to ...... stay tuned

PLEASE CLICK ON "OLDER POSTS" TO SEE THE BEGINNING OF MY BLOG


Cute thing I just found...
may be talking about me someday..

My grandma started walking
five miles a day when she was 60..
Now she's 97 years old
and we don't know where she is.
-Ellen deGeneres

June 29 - Back to Zamora

Had gone to bed late and thus woke up late... which meant I missed 2 buses. Took advantage of the time and ate with my cousin Begoña and tio Salvador. I took the 5:30pm bus to Zamora. Before I left I told tio the final score for the futbol game would be Spain 1 - Germany 0. I arrived in Zamora as the game started. I went to the albergue and called the phone number posted, left messages several times and no one ever called me back. I rang the bell, no one answered. So I left a note on the door, letting someone know that a peregrina is trying to get in. I guess with this being the last day of San Pedro's fiesta as well as the big game of the year (the cup), everyone was somewhere else.
I went to a zarzuela concert in Plaza Mayor and it was so folksy, not really my style but definitely worth watching, as it reminded me of mom when she sang a zarzuela tune.
I tried the albergue again. Nothing still. So I went to an art exhibit which were beautiful.... tent after tent of incredible art, whether on canvas, with metal, ceramics, jewelry.....
I ate at the same place I had been to the other day where I befriended the storekeeper and she remembered me. Loved her bocadillos but she was quickly running out of food. I ate my favorite ice cream on a stick, orange covered in chocolate, delightful, and she let me leave my backpack in her place until I could figure out what to do next.
As I was sitting there, the bar next door was noisy with futbol fans and alas, Spain won over Germany 1-0 (see Tio?) The joy that poured out of that bar and spilled onto the streets was emotional. People singing so silly, how Spain was going to get drunk tonight, and some other silly things. Flags were waving all over the streets and the sounds of horns were coming from every direction. I was wondering how Salvador was watching the game and in which locale along the Camino Frances. I called him and he was all happy.... poor Konstantin, one of his camino mates is from Germany, but took it well.
I went down to the cathedral to watch the fireworks, which meant the end of San Pedro's festival. The length of the show was, well, long!! It just kept on going. I managed to squirm through forward enough in the crowd to see some I had never seen before. One was a flower that after it boomed into different directions, each end of it suddenly went back up, almost making a reverse flower. Hard to describe, but I was exhilirated at the beauty and sounds of the show. The grand finale was, yeah, GRAND!! And all along car horns were still beeping all over Zamora, and I am sure, all over Spain!
I got my backpack from the bar and went back to the albergue where finally pilgrims had returned and opened the door for me. I roomed with a girl from Australia. And I had the same bed as the other night.

June 25 - To Madrid

Wednesday the 25th of June:
I took a bus back to Madrid, to tio Salvador's place, dropped off my rucksack and put on clothes I had not see in a while, then took the metro to cousin Bego's house and got keys for tio's house so I could get back in when I would get back late at night. Then to Inga's hotel. We hugged and laughed about how we were in Spain together!! Far from little ole Tallahassee!! I met her g/f Marta.
They were settled in by now, dressed and ready to go to Cafe las Chinitas. I had made reservations for there a couple of weeks ago and we got a pretty good table close to the stage. This is my third time I have traveled to Spain and attended this establishment. It has a very good, long-standing reputation as one of the best places to see a tablao, a Flamenco show. Dinner was fabulous and then the show.
The singers straining their voices, the musicians hugging their guitars and the dancers.... ahhh the dancers mesmerizing us with their moves, so powerful, sensuous, fun. Inga was wide-eyed and smiling all the time. I took pictures and kept looking over at the 2 girls to see how they were enjoying it. They sure did. We stayed for the second show.
I took a taxi back and when I got to tio's house the keys Begoña had given me were the wrong ones and he could not hear me calling from the ringer downstairs, so I called my cousin and took a taxi to her house to get the keys she had for the apartment. Taxied back to his house. It´s 3 to 4am, mind you. Went straight to bed for we had some traveling to do tomorrow.
Thursday the 26th of June:
My suitcase packed and out the door to their hotel by bus. We had breakfast at their hotel and off we went to Cordoba. It was such a fun ride, and that Marta is not a good driver, all over the damn road, geeeze... but we stopped by the roadside when Inga spotted a town on top of a hill and she wanted to photograph it. It was perched way up there and for us to get a good shot we left Marta in the car and walked down the road to a better spot for pictures. Took several and then I saw some ostriches. They were behind a fence so I went up to them to take a better look and take a couple of pics. One was standing and watching us, the other one was sitting nearby. Their faces are comically beautiful, how can I say that? So I put the camera up to the fence and suddenly he or she flung that long-ass neck with that little head on top and got me!! Grabbed my pinky and at the same time pushed the camera out of my hands. I pulled quickly and got my pinky out and caught the camera up in the air. I was yelling at it, "you fucker, you stupid-ass ostrich, what the hell's the matter with you!!!" and Inga could not contain her laughter. Later in the car, still laughing she said how she was such a bad friend for laughing and not making sure I was ok. I could not stop laughing either, said I was alright, but my camera lens had a dent in it!! Damn!! Had to be there.
We got to Cordoba. Now, this is a whirlwind tour for sure, this trying to get a little bit of Spain shown to Inga by Marta. I am just along for the ride. We walked to a restaurant and it was blazing hot today!! We had a series of tapas that were outstanding! Then went over to the Mezquita which means mosque in Spanish. It started out as a church a century and a half ago and when the Moors came they redesigned the interior and turned it into a mosque. Then during the reconquest the church got it back, but left the Muslim architecture and now houses chapels within it, but with the Arab influence. It is so amazing. The artistry of centuries past are still preserved and I am in awe. I touch walls, columns, close my eyes and feel the energy of centuries of life within these walls. It is quite the sight.
Zipped through it, got back to our car and headed south again. We went to the town of Chipiona, a place that Marta knew. Inga had wanted to see the southern coast of Spain and Marta chose this place which was elegant and fun. Ran to the beach for we wanted to see a sunset over the ocean. Damn, the sun had just gone past the horizon, but those colors were still there for us. Aaaah!!
We walked around and found an outdoor cafe to eat dinner at. The amound of food ordered was huge!! Lots of seafood, oh yeah!! Now to sleep.
Friday, 27th of June:
Well, why the hell not!! Let's go to Morocco!! We went to Tarifa and jumped onto a ferry to Tangiers. We were leaving Spain and you could see both the Spanish coast and Morocco's on opposite sides of the boat. I mentioned to Inga, "Inga, we're going to Africa!!" and she looked at me with wondering eyes, "Africa? Oh my god, I had no idea!!" Ahh someone flunked geography. We got there and were swamped by "tour guides". Marta made a deal with one and he took us all over the place. Went to a mosque and it was prayer time. The men were going into it through very ornate doors at the front of the mosque and the women were at the back going through a very common door. Hmmm, yeah, some differences are obvious. We got a quick look at the palace and was told to make a quick photo and not get caught doing it. Hmmm, yeah.
He took us to some cliffs overlooking the old town and that was amazing. You could see the ocean way below and the roofs of the homes as well. And these cliffs had holes cut out where the Phoenicians would lay their dead.
We walked the Medina and that was quite crazy, a maze of "streets" maybe 3 to 8 feet wide that just went around and around, with open doorways and people standing around, or selling their wares. Some of the doors were so beautiful. We were shown a window where the body of a dead person was laying on a stone and covered with an ornate cloth. Went to eat to a place where we ordered local food and when we had terrible service and glass in my soup, Marta called the shots and said "No way, we are staying there" and left. The owner was cool about it. We ended up eating in a hole in the wall, everyday food (fish and chips type of food)and we were a bit disappointed with that experience. He took us to a rug store where he obviously gets a kick-back and the presentation was getting long and none of us were buying anything anyway. Then to some small shops where we got swarmed by sellers with all kinds of things hanging from their arms and hands. It was very tough to say no, and I did buy a few things, but it felt really rushed and frantic. Not a good experience overall, especially in such a short time, but hey, the fun side? We were in fuckin' Africa!! Inga, we are in Africa together!!! I took a picture of my foot on African soil. Errr, cement.
Took the ferry back and we ended up eating in a wonderful restaurant, very posh. Hippies were selling their handmade items which were very cute and we bought some. We finally found a pension after driving all over the place looking for a place to sleep. We found one at 1:30am. UGH
Saturday, 28th of June:
We were up by 4am and drove back to Madrid. It was difficult long ride for we were all tired and had to make sure Marta would not fall asleep at the wheel. I remember Inga and I in a gas station bathroom, and I said, "Inga, we're shitting in Spain together!!" We were a bit tired for real, hahahaha. W
We got to the airport, said our goodbyes and I headed back to tio's house. I slept a little, showered and went to the hospital to see my cousin Cristina who had her twins yesterday. All is well, and they are adorable. I helped her with breastfeeding... imagine a c-sec and twins. But of course we know there is an answer to every complication. I went to the room next door when I could hear that baby crying for so long, unconsolable!! As a midwife, I cannot stand that, a baby crying out for help. I excused myself and offered to help. I sat the woman down and put the baby to her breast and the baby took it immediately. She had been told the baby had already eaten and that was not the problem....grrrr. We talked for a while and she understood the feed on demand idea and hopefully all is well. I just could not help it. Cristina's husband, Marcos and I headed to a bar and ate so many mariscos, shellfish. It was soo good, but so expensive.
Then home (to tio Salvador's) to the puter and repacked. Time to head back.
This is the second time I had to leave the Via and it is not feeling good. Breaking it up like this affects that rhythm I had evolved and also I would have to meet all new people again.

June 24 - Villanueva del Campean to Zamora

So the lady tells me not to walk today. The camino is flooded and it is not a good idea. That she was to tell me (by whom?) to go to the next stage by bus (Zamora). I thought about it, really I am not worried about the trail being bad, although it means I will have wet, muddy feet all day, which means the possibility of blisters.... OK. ugh. So she takes me to the bus stop. There I meet another woman who tells me of the trees that had been blown down last night, and of the many homes that got water in them. So it's me and many elderly people going to Zamora. They are going for doctor appointments, food shopping and meeting friends. Conversations were typical of that age. We stopped in many small quiet towns, now inhabited only by old folks, criss-crossing the land. The water had damaged many areas. People are worried about their crops. Ruined!! "Me cago en la puta de oro, maja!" I heard a man say and giggled.


Basi (for Basilia) gave me directions to old town (in major cities or towns the albergues are usually found in the old sections, for they tend to be close to churches or cathedrals). I walked to a bar to eat breakfast and got something I said I would avoid... chocolate con churros!! What with the air heavy with moisture, the temperatures dropping a bit, it seemed like the perfect food.


I arrived at the beautiful new albergue. Everything brand new. And it accomodates many many people. They will be ready for 2010, the Holy Year. The view from my room was incredible, overlooking the valley, across the way a church with many storks nesting, they and their babies clacking. Salvador and I had seen them when they had just hatched back in early May and now they were learning to talk, and fly. I love watching them. Now, listen to them talk:


video



I took my shower and with the large mirror I realized how tanned I have gotten!! WOW.


I went to the library (free internet). My forum friend is one day behind me, at least I thought. More tomorrow.
At the library there was a photography exhibition by someone named Alfonso that was so powerful I had to see it all.


I toured the streets, the cathedral, the park the castle. Today is San Juan and San Pedro is June 29.


San Pedro is the patron saint of Zamora, which is pretty neat...see, my last name means San Pedro (St Peter) and here I am for the festivities.










I watched the parade of regional costumes, so colorful, beautiful, worn by men, women and children of all ages. They walked several blocks to end up at the cathedral for a special mass.






I saw a dance exhibit by girls that was being televised. Cute cute little girls as well as teenagers dancing in beautiful style.




There were 2 concerts tonight. I missed the one by the cathedral, by some famous Spanish band, but I did get to watch a concert by an orchestra called TirriTarra at the Plaza Mayor. Think of Yanni meets Enya meets Kitaro. Wonderful, and free.




One is given a key to the albergue so I can come and go as desired. That was very freeing, for usually one has to abide by a curfew. Not here, and thankfully not now, since it would have been sad to miss out on the spectacles.

And who wouldn't want to take in all that is offered in such a beautiful city as Zamora?

Well, it is time to leave the Via (for now). Turns out my friend Inga, from Tallahassee and her Peruvian/German friend are coming to Spain and want to meet up with me. Originally Inga thought she might join me for a few days on the walk but plans changed and instead they will be in Madrid tomorrow. So I leave for a few days.
Next morning I got on the net and it turns out my forum friend and I were sleeping in the same albergue together and did not meet or even know it, until my roommate, the German girl told him I was there!! Too funny! Will we ever meet? Stay tuned.

June 23 - El Cubo de Tierra del Vino to Villanueva del Campean

A cool front must have come through and that one day rest was perfect for my leg and hip. No regrets, taking a bus..... I would have preferred not to, but one is not supposed to stay more than one night in an albergue unless real sick and I was not sick, but it would have been bad to walk in that condition. So many pilgrims end up in very bad shape as a result of pushing themselves. Learning one´s limits is important.

I was very aware of the place one has to look for arrows, and in this somewhat barren land they are on a variety of places. I walked along the RR tracks for quite some time and the path took a left turn all along a dirt trail. And there is the fork in the road. Intuitively I would take the right fork since that would be pointing north, but I decided to look for the arrow and there it was down in a ditch. Someone made sure to put them so that they could be found. I seem to be more alert looking for arrows when alone. Earlier when walking with Salvador, many time he would say, ¨Mom, this way¨ for I just missed them!
It was such a pleasant walk today, thanks to the weather and the landscape, which again brownish, it still had areas of trees that would feel like a little oasis.

Gentle hills, as I approached my village today, and far off I could see a man taking a stroll. As I approached him, I could see he was very old, and for sure he wanted to chat. So we did. He would call me ¨Maja¨ which means beautiful/good-looking, but in an endearing sort of way the Spanish have of calling people by an adjective/noun (linda, bella, gorda, negra, corazon, maja) and proceed to tell me sooo many things. That is one of the nice perks of walking alone.... I get to stop when I want and chat. I think I would feel less inclined to do so, if walking with someone, for it is easy to just say hello to passers-by while continuing a chat with my companion. He asked me to stay here tonight for it is a lovely lovely village.

So I decided to stay in this town, for it is full of wonderful people and there is a convent in ruins I want to explore. I wondered through the town whose streets were like a maze until I found the lady with the key. I went to the albergue and it was very very nice. Very new. Little reception area with a table and sink and microwave, then the room with maybe 8 bunks, then straight ahead 2 bathrooms. All new. I settled in, took my shower, washed my clothes, hung them up and went looking for food. I went to the bar and the food was soooo good and plenty of it! They called it arroz Cubano, which is funny, because at home we consider this a Spanish dish, and one I grew up with. Rice with fried eggs on top. The only difference and which I assume makes it Cuban, is the tomato sauce around the edge of the plate. Men came streaming in, apparently it is card playing time. Several of them around the table started their game, and it got quite passionate. Some cuss words were being tossed around, and some of the men would hush the one saying it, for there was a lady in their presence. Too cute. Several of them would come by my table to chat and to apologize for the others. My "maja" friend came in too and I had a wonderful time with him again.

I went for a walk through the town and up the hill to the convent. It mush have been beautiful at one time, for it still was to me. There was litter from some religious person who keeps putting pieces of paper from a calendar of religious thoughts under rocks. Here they were strewn about along with booklets from a Christian organization.

I decided to clean up the litter from these beautiful ruins and went back into town with a bagful. I took many photos. I tried to piece together what each area of these ruins must have been, and one of my faves was the round building with all these little cubby holes.

It was very peaceful here. And it was all mine today.
Once back in town I sat in their Plaza Mayor and drank delicious sweet clean water from their fountain. I called my son Diego back in the states while sitting on the park bench and it made me feel good to hear his voice. A man in a car arrived with many empty plastic bottles and proceeded to fill them up at the fountain. Yeah there is something good about their water. The men moved to the park. How is it that they need to outshout each other when having conversations? But this they do and I jsut smile. My "maja" friend came over again and I learned his name is Diego. Smile. So I was the only one here tonight. No problem. I read the pilgrim book and there was John's message. So cool.





I got my clothes and repacked my rucksack for tomorrow and went to bed. Ha!! Apparently the storm of the decade decided to hit tonight. The lightning and thunder was wonderful, I just love thunder, and it was rocking the place! Then I started to feel water on my hand the one at the head of the bed. Lights on, and yep, there are several leaks all along the edge of the wall, thereby hitting the head of all the beds that are pushed up against it. So I got up and pulled them all towards the center of the room. Back to bed. Then the other wall across from mine was leaking, I could hear the sound of it, so now I put all those beds in the center. Back to bed. Now my foot is getting wet, and it seems the skylight in the center of the room is leaking. Now I move all the beds again to keep them from getting wet and found a bucket. The sound of water hitting it reminded me of the Chinese Water Torture so I put a towel I found inthe bucket to stop that sound. Back to bed. The rain is pounding. The lightning makes the electricity go off and on. And.... what happens each time it flickers off? The emergency exit lights come on. Imagine being inthe dark and suddenly a spotlight is shining in your face? Yeah, all night, on and off. I got up. I just could not sleep anymore and went to the door. Water is coming in through the bottom of the door. So when I open the top half of the door to peek outside, I could make out, in total darkness, that the street (maybe all of 12 feet wide) was now a river. Yep. We are getting flooded here tonight. I moved several items from the floor of the entrance up high so they would not get wet.

After hours of this and when the electricity finally stayed on, I fell asleep from sheer tiredness. And maybe an hour later? Someone at the front door, pounding. The lady has come to see how I faired. Then I realized I had been bitten, several times, but not bedbugs, for they bite in rows, these were mosquitos. Good morning!!
Total 13 kms

June 22 - Calzada de Valunciel to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino

I had a great sleep last night. I think those couple of days in Salamanca was about partying, so got little rest. I cooked breakfast, cleaned up, watered the plants and realized how hot it already was. I do not mind hot that much, really, but was eager to get going. I dropped the key into the locked keybox outside after securing the windows and doors and did not get very far when I realized that the hip pain was already making me limp. Not a good idea, not after what happened several weeks ago. I went back to the albergue and sat down on the outside bench and thought about it a while. Maria, who it turns out is the albergue´s caretaker came by, we chatted and I asked her about bus service out of this town and she directed me back to the main road. I decided I had to move on, but should rest the leg. I took the bus to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino, what a crazy name, and come to think of it most of these towns´names have multiple words! And another thing that convinced me was that there was nothing between these two towns. The guide recommends to take enough water, for there are 20 kms between them. 20kms is not too far, and for me actually, it is a perfect distance. But what if I get into trouble out there and I am far from a road, and there have been no pilgrims this day. So, as hard as it is to make this decision, I got on that bus. I arrived in El Cubo and after asking directions got to the albergue. I wondered if I would be the only one there tonight.... just me and that dog that lies on the front stoop, who as I petted....YIKES, it is full of ticks!! I killed a couple of the ones that walked off his coat. Then, I got cave mates. 3 Spanish men here tonight. I went into town and they had one of those coin operated computers and I checked my emails and wrote a couple. I have a forum mate who is also walking the Via and we had previously written to each other stating we might be able to meet up? Well one of the emails is from him saying he was in Salamanca for a couple of days and I bet we were there together! We are mentioning the possibility that we are near enough that we might meet up. We'll see.
The bar was full of people drinking and smoking and discussing tonight´s game, Spain vs Italy. The albergue is very nice, great rooms, bathroom, dining-living area and a nice porch out back where I could wash my clothes and hang them while I took some sun...it had a kitchen and I cooked again after visiting the town´s only open shop (on a Sunday? Unheard of!!) whose owner said she opened only because of people needing things for tonight´s game. I had a room to myself and the Spanish guys took the other 2 rooms, one of them wedging a chair behind his bedroom door for some reason.
20 kms I missed.

June 21 - Salamanca to Calzada de Valunciel


Conrado dropped me off on the north side of Salamanca while on his way to work. . I got to Aldeaseca and it was a very quiet little town. Nothing was open for food or drink. So I moved on. Made it to Castellanos de Villiquera, where I was ready for some food. I went into a bar, put down my backpack and heard a man order a bocadillo and a beer. When I heard the owner say 1.50euros, I perked up. First time I had seen anything so cheap, which made me wonder about some of the prices I pay.
Most places do not have prices and once in there, I just pay what they tell me the price is. But this guy was a local and he got charged so little. So I said I wanted the same thing as he. And I paid 1.50euros. It was the best tortilla sandwich and beer I had for the price!! I walked through the town, which also seemed quiet. Only activity was the bread lady, who zips through town in her little station wagon, beeping a horrid horn as she goes from block to block. The ladies come out to buy their bread. I stopped and looked at the different breads and decided to buy one. One of the shoppers helped put it into one of the pockets of my backpack, so I would not have to take it off and I felt cool walking with a baguette sticking out of my backpack. The bread was yummy. I looked for my arrows.


The walk was very flat, very dusty. This is cereal country, and already, in June, the fields are a golden color. I would have thought it would be very green still. Men in tractors harvesting and plowing. All wave a little hello to me.
I got to Calzada de Valunciel. By the time I arrived my right leg and hip were hurting again, like it did at the beginning of the walk. Not sure why, but I cannot even stretch my legs open. There was a note on the door, asking any pilgrim to call a phone number so that the key could be delivered to me. I was the only person in the albergue.

And it was cute as could be. I went to a little shop and was surprised it was open on a Saturday late afternoon, for typically in Spain, shops close early on Saturday and not at all on Sunday. I got my groceries and headed back to the albergue. I made my dinner. I watered the plants. I fixed every pot, trimming the flowers. I swept the porch. The man who arrived with the key was very kind, and I believe he is the mayor, who is watching over the albergue while the regular lady who cleans it is gone. I read, wrote a little and went to bed early. No one to talk to, so what else to do? I read the pilgrims´notebook and found a message written there from one of my forum members. I have since sent him the picture to show him that I found his note. Hehe....love my camino forum world.
Total 16 Kms.