October 6, ~21km
I don’t think it does, but I’m deciding that this town’s name means fountain of songs.
It was another nice and early start today, 7am, and once out of the pueblo I breathed in delight and happiness at the tranquil dark. The Camino followed a sunken lane and the moon was overhead, bright enough to cast a good shadow, though on the wane and almost back to the quarter. At times I had to peer for arrows but on this count it’s been fine so far to be leaving with little light to see by. I usually suss out the outward Camino the afternoon before and once out of the pueblo there are usually not too many (possible) deviations. The trees around here, a local oak called encinas, and the cork trees, alcornoque, are such a joy, most especially somehow, at this moment before dawn. They are very individual, gnarled and the trunk always splits perfectly into two. One looked like a beautiful arched-backed woman lifting the bole to the sky. Above me is Orion, upside down, the Big Dipper, the Pleiades, the BigW / serpent (made up by me) and a big bright planet. The moon sails aloft on a rippled sea of clouds.
And while walking and walking, there arrive gradual washes of light until the sun is finally ready to peep over the horizon with the first warm and rosy bath. ¿Why would anyone ever sleep past the dawn? I wonder, but of course I do it myself most of the time. When did you last get up to be there with the last of the night?
Gradually the country shifts from oak-studded cow pasture to more open, brushy scrub and finally to huge and empty ploughed fields stretching way way way out under the big blue sky. Every last tree has been cut down here, though in my mind it is more as if a giant hand has reached down and plucked them from the soil roots and all. I find it bleak and almost nasty but Buddhist monk Frank loved this landscape and was reminded of how we are looked after and sheltered by life.
I’m reading the sermon on the mount in Matthew at the moment, slowly and anew. It is such an amazing teaching: enough for a lifetime just on its own. My little Bible is just NT, Psalms and Proverbs – King James Version – swapped in the Vilcabamba book exchange. What did I swap it for? Martin Buber’s ‘I and Thou’. A bloody excellent book but sometimes you need the Bible. Anyway the KJV has some curious and lovely renderings of well-worn passages which make for fresh reading. Such as the importance of your eye being ‘single’ (and your whole body will be filled with light) and ‘blessed are the cheese makers’ … just kidding.
I was first at the albergue today, a newly built wing attached to an old church, so I got one of the ‘suites’ which has only two beds all freshly made up with white cotton sheets, not polyester which crackles and makes sparks in the night. Apart from the communal bathroom and washing line in the courtyard it’s like a boutique hotel. My goodness!
I have to say I like the tranquillity of the albergue for those minutes before other pilgrims start arriving. I claim my bed, shower and wash and hang out smalls, unpack a bit and then eat my salad for lunch which I make that morning. Then is the time to head out exploring though being siesta time, it actually means finding the only open bar for a Tinto de Verano and some olives, and earmarking a shop for getting supplies later on. Here is what I found today…
For tonight’s meal a few of us decided to go in together and of course it became a feast. I was in charge of salad, Letitia, art restorer from Tuscany, made spaghetti with tuna and tomato (naturally!), Jacques provided wines, cheese and bread, Kari from Norway, fresh plums for dessert, and Jesus, last minute arrival, not kidding, policeman from Sevilla, brought mortadella and wine so local it comes in a plastic bottle. Frank had already eaten so he just brought olives.
The pilgrim life can be so tough!