I was sauntering through San Anton, a ruined monastery, part of which is used as an albergue, when my name rang out over the classical music emanating from the only bar cafe for miles around. Mariana was enjoying her first vino tinto of the day. I went in to say hello. She was heading for Castrojeriz, as was I. Her English camino friend gave me a tip for the best albergue there and I pushed off.
Castrojeriz was having a party when I got there (there’s a surprise) but that was at the start of town and I was keen to get a bed for the night. Like many villages Castrojeriz is long and thin and I must have walked 2km before I hit what could loosely descibed as the hub of the town.
This would be called the High Street, had it been in the UK. Or Main Street in the USA. In Spain they call it Desolation Street. And that’s being kind. I spotted two young Irish men chugging down beer outside an albergue cum bar cum restaurant. They were going to stay there but hadn’t checked in yet so an appraisal was not possible. I stuck with the recco I had and stumbled upon that albergue after five more minutes.
‘Completo,’ (full) the hospitalero told me. Oh well, back to my new Irish friends. The hospitalero there, checked me in and asked me what part of England I was from.
‘Yorkshire,’ I told him.
‘I know Yorkshire,’ he said, ‘where in Yorkshire?’
‘The best place in Yorkshire,’ I said, ‘Harrogate.’
‘I learned to speak English in Harrogate.’ he told me.
‘In that case,’ I replied. ‘You have learned English in the best possible place, and, as I have already observed, your English is impeccable.’
I am such a snob about my town. Helluva town though…
I joined the Irish boys on the terrace. Look who’s turned up. Mariana. She also couldn’t get in the favoured albergue so is staying in the municipal.
‘ Hi Ken,’ she said, ‘These guys are Irish, We’ll be having a drink tonight.’
I jumped on it. ‘Mariana!’ I said, in mock shock. ‘Just because these lovely boys are Irish doesn’t mean they’re permanently up for it.’ I eyed the pair over the dozen or so empty glasses. I turned to Dutch girl Mariana.
‘Do you live in a windmill.’ I asked.
‘Yeah,’ said Gary ‘ In your clogs.’
‘Nights in spent wrapping cheese in wax.’ I said.
‘Arranging tulips all day.’ said Gary.
Mariana eyed all three of us.
‘I don’t,’ she said. ‘I have an apartment in Amsterdam and I make cannabis cake.’ she paused. ‘Now. Are we having a drink or what?’
We had a drink.
There was a big hill the next morning. Early on. I knew it was there from my last year’s Camino. I had hoped that in the last eleven months they might have flattened it. They hadn’t. Typical for Spain. Manana, manana. It nearly killed me. As I rested at the top I met Kathy from Harrogate! Yay. Her walking companion from Ireland was patient as Kathy and I basked in our Yorkshire superiority.
‘Small world.” says Kathy
‘Yes,’ I said, ‘ but you wouldn’t wanna paint it.”
Kathy’s post code is HG2, not the aspired for, HG1, like mine. But, y’know, it’s still Harrogate. So that’s good. Good for her, and her family.
(Told you I was a raging snob.)
I was headed for Fromista. Through Ityra de la Vega I kept my head down and shuffled through. If you want to know why, read “Party Town” from last year’s blog. At a coffee stop in Boadilla the waiter, stood in the doorway, was staring at me. He disappeared and returned with his buddy. They both stared.
‘Que pasa?,’ I called over. (What’s up?)
The waiter came over.
‘You look like George Jung,’ he said.
‘Who he?’ I asked.
He pulled out a phone and showed me a picture. I did resemble the picture I have to say.
‘But who is he?’ I asked. ‘Actor, cientista, politico, musico?’
He scrolled down to the copy.
“George Jung, longtime friend and associate of Pablo Escobar. Responsible for 80% of the cocaine smuggled into the USA in the 1980s.”
WTF. I was happier when I read that in the biopic, Blow, he was played by Johnny Depp.
The waiter, Pedro insisted on a photo. I agreed on condition that the FBI could never see it. He convinced me he was not an informer and that he wasn’t wired, so we did the picture thing. A surprising number of people offered to take the picture for us.
I paid my bill and pushed off, wondering how a waiter in a tiny village knew what George Jung looked like. Now if he’d said I looked like Johnny Depp in the first place I would have understood. Obviously.
- How’s everybody doing? Thanks for stopping by.
- Doing my best over here with the tablet and the WiFi and shit.
- Shout out to my sisters, I think they’re still alive.
- Follow on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook.
- I am now an expert on the Camino so ask away.
- Camino Two starts Camino Two : 1 Onward And Upward, Definitely Upward.
- Camino One Camino de Santiago: Preparation