Today we left the beautiful city of Leon and has reached (uhmmm… consulting book for name of village) the ´metropolis´ of Mazarife. Leon was great and the architecture amazing. We actually reached it early as we took a bus from Mansilla into the city due to Marieke´s feet being too sore to walk and the need for all three of us in fact for another rest day. Well, so much for a rest day! Got to the alberge at about 10am, got inside (miraculously early) at 11am and went out exploring the city. We split off to do our own thing and had a great day out exploring dozens of Plazas and the cathedral itself and also just sitting in side-walk cafes enjoying the vibe.
I finally got the hang of the how to order a drink from a bar and getting a free tapas with it! I even took a picture (eish – strange South African). The norm is that if you order a drink and something to eat together, you don´t get a free small tapas. If you only order a beer, well voila! out comes the tapas for free. It is normally a small piece of bread (the hard crusted white bread they make their bocadillas with) and some cheese and chorizo on top. Chorizo is a kind of salami – very nice! So there I was enjoying my beer and tapas, reading a book with one eye and checking out the passing crowds and cathedral with the other eye, and suddenly I hear tango music! Amazing – a guy with accordion down the street starts playing away and doing some tango numbers we´re used to dancing to in the local Cape Town and Stellenbosch milongas. It was a real treat! I thanked him when I left and gave him a tip, but I have NO idea what he answered me.
It really is a mission to communicate with the Spanish. Case in point: when we got to the alberge today (quite early – at about 12h00, after 22km), Sybil and I decided to ´spoil ourselves´ to a full wash and dry of the majority of our clothes. We paid the handsome sum of 3 Euro for the washing and 3 Euro for the drying, but our clothes came back to us half dried. Now I ask you with tears in my pilgrim eyes: HOW do you get angry with a Spanish hospitalero (person looking after the alberge) about wet washing if they will only start blabbing back at you in very fast and loud Spanish words??!! NOTHING will be accomplished and no one will walk away from the experience any the wiser. SO – the good pilgrim will just walk away and accept the half dried bundle and go hang it all up on the line using safety pins. Oh my word, I´ve become such a nice and accepting person within the space of 2 weeks!
Oh and just to make all you Capetonians jealous, we had SUN today and actually sat on the alberge stoep in the sun tanning while drinking our beers this afternoon. I´ve got a mean boere-tan on the arms by now, although in actual fact we´ve not had any completely sunny days except on the first day from Orisson to Roncesvalles. Most days started in mist or cloud, opened up a bit and then closed up sometime in the afternoon for a brief thunderstorm or cloudy spell and then opening up with sun again into well, 9 or 10pm. Still odd going to sleep so early and also seeing sun and light so late.
Well, I have to be off to the supermercado to buy food for tomorrow – it is mos Sunday and shops are not really open on Sundays. We have a long stretch tomorrow (about 30km to Astorga) and with it being Sunday and not many towns we´ll be passing through who may have open bars – we have to make sure we have enough food for the day. Then we have our usual pilgrim´s meal in the alberge tonight. I can smell the cooking already as the kitchen is right next door to where I´m sitting at the pc. Looking forward to sharing it with the rest of the crowd. The alberge is relatively small with only 25 beds. Last night we were in a big one in Leon as it could sleep a maximum of 125 pilgrims!!
All the best to all and Buen Camino!