Saturday, June 28, 2008

June 19 - June 20 - Morille to & In Salamanca

Arturo left first and I took my time. It was another hot day. I walked through many groves, a very rocky path, grooved by water and tires... I came upon a bunch of cattle blocking a gate. One of the things one must watch for is those big black bulls. I already knew of a cyclist who had been chased by one. These were a family of them, a very large in many daddies, mommies and babies. They were smack in the middle of the trail and that gate was right behind them. When I approached, they all turned to look at me and would not move. I would not move either, which put me in that position of what in the hell do I do now? I scoped out the area.... where would I run to... ok trees over there, I think I could make it. Open area there, and trees, but too far and cows and bulls can run fast! I pretended I was going to keep walking but they became very alert and I decided I would wait. I remember the German sisters(Ana & MariSofia) who I had passed at one time, and of course they had asked where I slept last night. They had been concerned of my not arriving in San Pedro. So I waited for them. My idea was that if we walked 3 abreast, we would look larger. I lost time, but I still had not felt safe about these large animals. And of course we walked on through and they all moved to the sides and no big deal! Chicken-shit here.
It got hotter. I had planned on calling Conrado, who we had met weeks earlier and was expecting me to call him so he could show us around Salamanca. Little did he know that now, 3 weeks later, I would be arriving, alone. But my phone was dead. I rested in front of a man's home, under the only tree I had seen for some time. That little section was lined with poppies and other wild flowers, and when under a tree, the breeze seems to blow nicely. I heard Arturo approaching along the way; after chatting a bit of course I again left him behind. We were to meet up in the albergue in Salamanca and have dinner. That never happened and I never saw him again. I came upon a hill overlooking Salamanca, and it had a beautiful and incredible view of the city. The cross was placed up there in such a way as to make one want to stop and just stare into Salamanca.

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I went down that hill towards the city and met and chatted with a man who was walking his dogs. He was throwing a stick into a pond and the dogs gladly would go after it and cool off at the same time. He brings them here every week he says. It was soooo hot! So when I walked into a tunnel, decorated with graffiti I stayed there a bit, until that wind chilled me and I was ready to head in to the city.

The cathedral was to the right, but the road leading in went around the city to the left. If it weren't for those arrows I would have bee-lined it to the old town and taken less time. Nevertheless it went through a nice park. I laid down under the trees, for again I needed to cool off.



Walking into the old town was amazing. I had to cross a bridge and the architecture changed, with evidence of ancient buildings all around me. It was so clean, I remember that for some reason. The buildings looked scrubbed-clean. One sees soot settling on and staining them so when I saw these so perfect it caught my attention.

I got to the albergue but it was not open yet, so I sat in a little park next to it. On the way in I had seen some people dressed as knights and ladies in gowns. One of those ladies was sitting in the bench next to me and we chatted. Apparently many businesses play a type of scavenger hunt using period costumes of ancient days, where the employees get to "play" but in essence they are exercising? It was cute. THe albergue opened and the hospitalera was very kind. The place is beautiful. She showed me to my room and soon there were 2 othr women there, including Andrea (the German woman) and a new peregrina, Ana (from Australia). I napped for a bit, took a shower and walked around for a bit, had to see the famous Plaza Mayor which was as magnificent as I had heard it would be.

Then I called Conrado. He told me not to move that he was on his way. A very kind man, he showed me his business, a brand new glass building and then to his home. Later we went with he and his lady friend to dinner.

The restaurant was beautiful, the dinner and wine and conversation fun fun fun. So, I missed my curfew. Dinner in Spain starts late, and when an albergue closes at 10pm, what can a happy peregrina do? Stay out!! So after dinner we went to the albergue, I rang the bell and felt bad about it but no one came so we went to his g/f's home. Elisa is an editor and promoter of children's books and she read us some stories as we drank champagne. Oh what fun!

The next morning they drove me to the albergue and I really did feel bad that they worried about me. Apparently the bell does not work, so all is forgiven. While Conrado went to work I explored the city, had some tapas, beer, Shandy and sweets.

I found the astronaut (with a little help) on the cathedral and I found the frog on the skull (with a little help) at the University's building. This town is busy, many tourists, many students. There was music outside the cathedral and generally people looked sooo happy, laughing, men sitting on benches discussing something or another.... just very lively.

One place I went to, and by coincidence, for I walked by it and read that this building contained Spanish Civil War archives. I went in just hoping there would be something there related to my parents, so after going through security I was taken upstairs where I spoke with a gentleman who took my data and disappeared for a while. I saw the encyclopedias that used to sit on my dad's library shelves, and knew I would find my great-grandfather there, so I photographed his page. Shortly after the man appeared with 3 records of my father, all related to his training for officers. Funny that a man so young as he was a lieutenant in the war. Well, he was a man with a wife and he was only 18 years old. He lied about his age. Still, it was quite moving to see my dad's name there. They will email me with any more information they find on him. The last name was changed, since dad is Catalan and they allow an N before a P, whereas the Castellanos do not allow it so Madrid changed dad's last name to Sampere instead of Sanpere. They did not find any data on mom, who was a nurse during the war.

Loved Salamanca!! Conrado came after work and we went out to dinner with another g/f to a chirichanga or chiringanga or chimichanga or whatever it's called, but basically it is a series of outdoor cafes along the river consisting of the kitchen and bathroom. The rest is all outdoor tables. People of all ages late into the night eating incredible food. What a life!!

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