Sunday, March 4, 2012

Camino Entry 11

Day 11, December 5th, 2011
198.1km completed

Windy today, but clear and fairly warm. Still following dirt agricultural roads, but the land is getting more dry and rocky. The border between Aragón and Cataluña is marked by a canal – Aragón and Cataluña are the larger areas, while the smaller provinces I moved from where Lleida to Huesca.

Regardless, adios Cataluña. See you soon.

Short day today; 21.5km, because tomorrow I go 20km with no stops at all. I’m in the first city that I’ve seen in Aragón, Tamarite de Litera. I arrived during siesta – the blowing wind, deserted main street, and passing tumbleweeds (not making this up) make me feel like I was in an old Western (a fitting setting for the “Jin” (Samurai Champloo) persona I adopted for a while earlier today). Now I’m in a café where old Westerns are playing on TV, dubbed into Spanish, and so the trend continues.

This is what all the old guys do during siesta – come here, drink coffee or beer, play cards, and shoot the shit. We should adopt siesta back home. Interesting that they keep it even in winter (invierno).

Expenses, Day 11

Baguette and Pastries: 2.96
Coffee: 1.30
Municipal Albergue (abandoned dorm): 10.00 donation
Fruits and Veggies: 1.37
Cashews and Chocolate: 3.20
Green Tea: 1.30
Total: 20.12
Trip Total: 293.35

My favorite example of political graffiti here so far is “Vota aki” (vote here) painted on trash cans, with an arrow pointing to the hole.


All right, Tamarite, you have impressed me. The local ayuntamiento (town government) offers shelter to pilgrims free of charge – all I had to do was walk into the city hall and mention that I was a pilgrim. Stamp on the credential, and the cop (one of two here in Tamarite de Litera) even gave me a ride over to the building; I can now say that I’ve been in a cop car in Spain.

The shelter is an abandoned dorm. Well, semi-abandoned, as some groups are using space on the third floor, but I pretty much have the place to myself. The electricity and water are on, but many of the lights don’t work and the furnace is turned off. Luckily there is a little electric heater in the pilgrim quarters, but no hot water for a shower. I may be from Michigan, but an ice-cold shower in an abandoned dorm bathroom is a little too cold for me.

Still, it is certainly the LARGEST shelter I’ve had so far. Three floors all to myself. I’m in an eight-bed room, and there are at least two more like it on this floor. Pilgrim graffiti abounds, including a series of customized stickers that two guys had made that all say “Beber y luchar siempre . . .” (Drink and Fight always?) with them in goofy poses. I hope it was still the 80’s when they were wearing those cut-off jeans short-shorts and canvas fanny-packs.

I have renamed the building “Casa McWilliams” for the night. Now I go in search of pizza. If I find it, Tamarite is assured a place at the top of the pilgrim leaderboard, at least for now.


No pizza, but my brother would appreciate the Spanish game show on television right now in the tea house. When someone is eliminated, they’re actually dropped through a trap door in the floor! Awesome.

Also, I was thinking – all this talk about how America doesn’t produce anything. One of our biggest exports is pop culture . . . another reason why people shouldn’t discount the economic impact of arts funding.

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