Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Good and...

I haven't been blogging the last few days because I've been staying more interesting places than the hostels and pilgrim refuges. First, after the big walk to Markina, I went on about 6km further to stay at a monstery. It was fantastic - only six other pilgrims. Even though it was a longer day I also managed to have more time for reflection and journalling and managed to attend vespers (sung night time prayers) with the monks and a couple of other pilgrims.

I've met a couple of good travelling companions, both speak English and one speaks Spanish, which has come in handy. The three of us joined up the afternoon after the monstery in Gernika (Basque spelling), the town in Picasso's famous Guernica (Castillian spelling) and had every intention of going on to another town or staying wherver we could get shelter and maybe even clean water. Instead we encountered the most incredible hospitality I've ever heard about. We were offered the garage floor of a local man who gave us a lift to the family farm in the back of his van. When we got there, we met the rest opf the family, went for a swim in their pool, were given beer and put on a load of laundry. Though we brought dinner with s, they cooked for us anyway and we had a couple of nightcaps. As if this wasn't amazing enough we were offered a lift to Bilbao this morning and were greeted with this sunrise vista:


Then, this morning, things went a little differently. When we got to Bilbao we found that the small refuge was closed. Permanently, but the new business had failed to take down the old sign. Then, when we went in to town, there was a general strike with accompanying protests. So, though I could go to the pharmacy to get more blister gear, I couldn't post more stuff ahead to lighten my load nor get the other new supplies I needed. Frustrated with both occurences, our group split up and the other two headed to our next stop while I tried to find what I could on my list. Another permanent closure, an incompetent and incomprehensible store clerk and now, here I am. More or less give up on rejoining the other two, and having wasted a day I worked so hard to get ahead on. Oh well, that's life, and that's the camino.

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