Thursday, January 17, 2013

Jan 17, 2013 Moratinos to Bercianos del Real Camino: More extraordinary people

Leaving Peaceable Kingdom

After a wonderful stay in Moratinos we set our sights on Bercianos del Real Camino and the albergue Santa Clara (20kms). This albergue has a very special reputation on the Camino. Robin and I arrived around 2:00 pm and joined Francisco and his father, Martin, who had already arrived. The hospitalera, Maria Rosa, is a cancer survivor who has dedicated her recovery, and new life, to the service of pilgrims on the Camino. The real story of today is the way we have been welcomed, fed, cared for and generally made to feel part of the family. We quickly got settled, found our bunks, showered and headed for the kitchen where our four pilgrims and four family members were getting settled around a large dining table for lunch.

The lunch was a sprawling raucous affair with large amounts of good simple food, accompanied by by wine, water, a nice desert, and then the after lunch drinks (large variety of homemade and other liqueurs). Now we entered the phase of the meal known in Spain as the "sobremesa." Francisco explained that this is the "hanging over the table" where the post meal discussion takes place, and which can go on for hours. In our case about 3 hours did it. I looked to Francisco and explained that we couldn't think about eating anything else this evening, but he countered with the news that a large piece of a freshly killed lamb had been purchased and was going to be roasted tonight. So much for restraint at the table. It simply does not fit with the Spanish way of life. Truth be told, I could easily get used to this, I would just have to run a marathon every day to burn off the calories. But, I love the fact that the Spanish people set aside a proper amount of time, not just to enjoy a meal together, but to enjoy the pleasure of each other's company. That was amazingly clear this afternoon as the stories and laughter echoed though the house even as the sun made its way towards the horizon. What a blessing to experience this moment of genuine hospitality and grace. It was a true Camino moment. The weather will once again turn very wet tomorrow as we make our way to Mansila de las Mulas (25kms). After that Robin and I will part company with Francisco and Martin, and spend two or three days in Leon as a mid Camino break. This father and son team have been a joy to walk with and their good humor, and companionship will be sorely missed.

Leaving Moratinos
One course of fourth
After lunch drinks to assist the sobremesa


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