Just pulled into Fuente de Cantos and am stayin in the most beautiful albergue I have ever seen. It is and od church coverted to social services including rooms for pilgrims. There are only two bunks to a room and right now only Willem and I are sharing the former library. We can get drinks for 1 E which is great because we are on the outskirts of town. Everything is spotlessly clean including the sitting room where I am, with free internet. Beyond the computer screen I see through huge windows onto an inner courtyard with a palm tree in the middle.
Today was amazing (you are going to hear this word a lot). All day we followed a winding path through fields lying fallow covered with straw. The perspective was mesmorizing because we went up and down hills with the fields all at different angles to each other and never knowing what was around the next bend or over the hilltop. Occasionally the town would come into view and I thought it was near but then it would disappear from view and I would walk for ages before catching another glimpse. The only people moving were four peregrinos of which I was one. AND IT WAS CLOUDY TODAY = NO SUN! What a difference it makes.
Yesterday the path to Real Jarres was brutal because of the heat. There was no shade at all and even though I finished the walk by one pm the heat was a killer for the last two hours. Believe me I used every drop of three litres of water and was still thirsty. And Laurie, no, the good priest has not yet opened the parish albergue so I took your tip and stayed at the Hotel Pilar and was as comfortable as you said.
I think in an earlier blog I mentioned that my Spanish was good enough for daily use but would be no good for deep philosophical discussion. How wrong I was. The night before last I ate dinner with Gilberto, and architect from Italy who is also a lay associate in the Order of St Dominic. We have been on the same route for several days but never had really spoken because his two languages are Italian and German and mine are English and French. So our only common tongue was Spanish. Over a very fine dinner we had a long conversation about the meaning of the camino and the place and purpose of the pilgrims as an entity and as individuals. This led us to stimulating discussion of the path to salvation through Jesus Christ to God and really, not just metaphorically, where the camino fits in this plan. It meant a lot to me because I have been puzzling over this whole issue for a long time and wondering how St James fits into this. I will know meditate on this some more but we reached a tentative conclusion that the legend of St James is the occasion for this experience. Whether his bones are really in Santiago is rather an incidental and not a critical factor for the camino. Before I started the Via de la Plata I really wondered whether I could have a similar rich religious and spiritual experience as I had on the Camino Frances in 2008. I know have my answer and in Spanish!
Willem caught up with us yesterday by walking about 37 kms in that heat and paid a price with several new bilsters. So we had a six for dinner last night in a good restaurant. We will see who turns up today. Ria walked on to take advantage of the cloudy day and with her long legs and speed we may not see her again.
Again I part with my the expression of my daily sentiment “I walk in joy!”