October 10, 38km
Letizia and I stepped out this morning together after last farewells with Frank in the morning dark. I’ve been walking alone pretty much the whole way to here, so it’s a welcome change for some company and a sharing of the way, though a different rhythm and vibe as well. We planned to have a hot dip in the Roman inspired thermal baths at Aljucén and were psyched and excited when we walked in at 10:30. We were met at the door by a sweet lady wearing kind of hippy-Roman attire but decided not to stay because her masseuse was having her day off and it would have taken an hour to heat the pools.
Probably a good thing too, as it was a long and tiring walk to Alcuéscar, mostly without shade under a hot sun. It was one of those walks when you’re sure the albergue will be ‘just around that corner’ and it is actually still 4km away. Sore feet, pleading faces. A long final hour. A lot said between us in silence.
Some funny moments of today were a whole paddock full of sheep bleating with full voice at us as we walked past. Feed us, humans! We’re so hungry! And a horned cow staring at us over a stone wall, just her peeping eyes visible. And a sign saying please don’t take the tree fruits when all there was was more acorns which have been along the path without pause for days now. And yep, not that hungry for acorns.
There are two other pilgrims here in Alcuéscar: Iñaki from Pamplona and Renato, of the white underpants, from somewhere in the north of Italy. It’s a sort of monastery / collegio for young priests in training and shelter for poor, sick and disabled people (all men as far as I can see… and hear, from the wolf whistles and I lurff youw.) And it has true pilgrim spirit, never turning anyone away, operating only by donations and having the attitude of come here and share what we have which is not much, but welcome! And help us do the washing up too. At the end of Mass we four were given a proper pilgrim blessing, our first, by an elderly priest. The place is inspired by Father Leocadia and above the door a saying of his: your houses, palaces of the poor! This good and deep and old catholic spirit of serving the poorest of the poor in the most generous way and as the most important work to do, is a powerful presence. What do I discover when I open my Bible? “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” heh. Nice.
May our homes all be palaces of hospitality.