Day 17: Total distance 14.5 kms. Total ascent: 249m
Weather: Raining, windy and cool. Temperature: 13
“dos pies, two feet…Good!
The children sat around the table attempting to twist their tongue around the sounds for over an hour and a half. One of the young Spanish pilgrims had offered to teach them some Spanish in exchange for some English. I am not sure how much English he gleaned in between the cackles of laughter and amusement as the children attempted to expand their Spanish vocabulary. Soon several others were hanging off the stairway joining in the conversation. Language acquisition aside, what was precious was watching our youngest children (and eventually the older ones too) interact with this young Spaniard, learning a few words, the difference between Galician and the other three dialects, and a fair bit of cultural insights to go with it all (the main ones relate to food…….churros that we have been looking for are mainly found in the south; paella must be eaten at lunchtime, not dinnertime as we requested; gazpacho turns into something else if you add bread to it – and always add olive oil to everything; pork from pigs eating acorns is absolutely the best…..) This is the beauty of travelling like this and staying in a smaller albergue – the serendipitous meetings and relationships that come together. Pilgrims staying in a smaller albergue generally tend to be more interested in the other pilgrims and their stories than in the larger albergues. It is surely no different to what often manifests in small village life compared with city living – the smaller communities just seem to more easily encourage relationship and interest in your neighbours. A gross generalisation, yes… but is it not so often true?
Another illustration of this occurred at dinner. Tomorrow (by the calendar) is Jgirl17s birthday – soon to be Jgirl18! We managed to find an ice-cream and sponge gateau in the supermarket, so we decided to celebrate her birthday early… or as Jgirl14 noted, “it is already her birthday back in New Zealand!”. We started to sing “happy birthday”, and everyone else in the dining room stopped, started to join in, clapping, and then cheered loudly at the end of the song. As people left the dining room, they came over and wished Jgirl17 a “happy birthday”.
This closer sense of “togetherness” even extended to when one of the men lost a pair of socks off the communal washing line. He started to ask FadaBear a question in Spanish, which quickly resulted in the young Spanish teacher being called in to translate. When news got out that a pair of socks was “missing”, the whole dorm was involved in a conversation as to who was most likely to have mistakenly acquired said socks. There was also a fair bit of joking with the poor guy who lost his socks, MamaBear joining in offering him a “spare” pair that we had. All good natured fun, over the simplest of situations – but indicative of the comfortable feeling amongst the pilgrims that we often did not experience when staying in the larger albergue. This was evident today even as we queued to get into the albergue and we were engaged in a range of conversations with Spaniards, Brits and Canadians. Sometimes, small is good (as long as it is not your serving of birthday cake!). Adios.
Tags: 2012, postcard: Spain