Camino de Santiago, 9-22-17: An early start and the wisdom of Paul

Okay, here are but two of the rules, customs – and – downsides – to albergues, the 10 or 20 to a room hostels for adults:

Snoring. So, you expect anything different in a room full of older adults? Earplugs are standard equipment. Deal with it. 

Sorta clean but creaky bunks. Deal with it II. You get what amounts to a paper mattress and pillow cover to ward off bed bugs. And when the peregrino above you rolls over (or passes gas), you feel and hear it. So just go back to sleep. 

Today’s 28km jaunt from was more of the same. Which is to say amazing, gorgeous and inspiring. Look down and you miss the ruins of an Iglesia to your right. Fumble with your water bottle and you miss a castle on your left. 

We cut through wheat fields, walked within feet of untold vineyards (after all we are in the arid wine region of Espana) and touched olive trees as we plodded mile after mile. 

Dragging me along in the predawn darkness was Paul, a 46-year-old from Boston. A great guy who was walking for a week then heading home to his job with Pfizer. 

Whereas I go unknowledgably with the flow, Paul is a reader and apparent historian. Why is this decrepit stone structure in the middle of that hill? “Oh, that looks like a hospital for pilgrims,” he said. That castle up on that ridge? “That was likely an outpost to fend off the Moors in the 14th century.” I learned of Barbary pirates enslaving Christian’s captured along the coast, and how European businessmen were reluctant to interfere with rampant warfare as long as trading lanes stayed open. I needed to be around a guy like Paul. 

Alas, we parted ways in one of the coolest medevil towns we’ve encountered, Viana. He wanted to learn more about a 13th century church. I wanted to buy pan and chocolate for lunch. That’s why he knows stuff and I merely walk along in wonderment. 


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