Thursday, July 12, 2007

Puente La Reina

Day 2 - Uterga - Obanos - Puente La Reina

I went outside to write this afternoon and with the warm sun on my face and the perfect breeze I fell asleep. I was outside the on the back lawn of our albergue after a much more moderate day of walking than yesterday. I awoke to the wonderful cacaphony of chatter from pilgrims from all over the world. Here, at any given time I can hear a combination of Spanish, English, German, Italian, French and many other languages that I cannot yet recognize. I feel like the beginning of our journey is brimming, hoping that some of these voices will soon become friends.

The municipal albergue in Puente La Reina has about 100 beds, many more than the one we were very nearly turned away from the night before. The albergues seem to have one or several rooms filled with bunk beds for us to sleep on. This comes with the added bonus of a symphony of snoring during the night. Here there is a large bathroom and a few showers and a gorgeous lawn out back with trees to shade the pilgrims gathered in various groupings on the lawn and a place to hang our hand washed clothes.

This whole hand washing the clothes thing is new to me. Now, I have washed delicates in the sink before with Woolite, hoisery and bras and such, but this is something else entirely. The albergue has this curious looking sink, with slanted ridges for scrubbing. The hospitalera (that´s what the hosts at the albergues are called) lent me a piece of this strange brown soap to wash our clothes with. I wasn´t really sure how to begin, but Paul showed me how. I rolled up my sleeves and washed our clothes Little House on the Prairie style soap, soap, soap, scrub, scrub, scrub, rinse, repeat. This is more of a workout than the walking! I was very proud of myself, but halfway expecting Ma and Pa and sister Mary to show up after they had killed and skinned the chicken for supper.

This was the first albergue where we have been able to cook so Paul and I made some pasta and some chicken. We didn´t have any oil, but saw some margarine in the fridge so we figured it was ok. When peeled back the top, there was a strange white substance at the bottom of the tub that was quite suspect. When you have walked all day and are totally famished, your standards of acceptability are dramatically altered. We used it anyway. From the kitchen while we were cooking and chatting with an English guy named Rob who writes tie in books for video games and movies, I heard someone who sounded just like one of my Korean students talking excitedly. I was really surprised to see that there were not one, but 3 Koreans in the albergue with us. We all started talking over dinner and met Che Jin, Ku and O Kwang along with Matthew from India. I talked to all of them for quite a while and Paul joined us for a while and then went to do a drawing of the church.

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