Saturday, March 10, 2012

Camino Entry 13

Day 13, December 7th, 2011
240.2km completed

Expenses, Day 13
Pastries: 1.00
Provisions: 6.13
Beer at the Meridian Bar: 1.40
Donation to Albergue: 10.00
Total: 18.53
Trip Total: 335.16

I’m writing this from the couch at my albergue. That’s right, the couch. Pertusa, pop. 147, has (for some reason) the nicest albergue in the history of albergues.

Let’s talk about luxuries for a second:

1. Heat
2. Hot Water
3. Shower
4. Two bunkrooms
5. Balcony
6. Living room (with TV)
7. Kitchen and dining area
8. A washing machine!!

I’m letting it go to work on all of my travel gear right now, going commando with my shorts (since apparently I only brought one pair of underwear). The extra 12km were worth it, although my feet may disagree.

Today also marks (roughly) my first quarter of the camino! Given my luxurious surroundings, I decided to have a little feast . . . there was even a third of a bottle of wine left in the fridge. I gave toasts to various people, places, and the camino itself as the alcohol settled in.

I passed through Berbegal today, the hilltop city visible yesterday from Castillo Monzón. It is a village of only 467 people, but it had a store so I provisioned. I have everything I need except bread . . . and tomorrow is some sort of holiday so I may have to go without. The town has the unusual distinction of being on the same point of longitude as Greenwich, England. I had a beer at the Meridian bar, an establishment that sits astride the line. Other than a large clock, it is fairly unremarkable.

A pushy local wanted to show me the view from the top of the church. Apparently you can see 82 towns from the steeple. I was going to take him up on it, but no one had the key. The day was absolutely clear, the Pyrenees amazing in their fierce majesty (glad I don’t have to cross those!). The local guy was a bit too excited to see me, and from the way he got no respect from anyone else in town (and how no one could find the key all of a sudden in a town of 467 people) I can tell he is being ostracized a bit. There is a lesson here, I just don’t know what it is . . . it was a weird situation, and I’m glad I didn’t spend the night there.

I estimate that I could see for 50 or 60km from Berbegal, just like Castillo Monzón. The castle was amazing – built by the Moors in the 9th century, it became a Templar stronghold when the order was founded. I wonder how many pilgrims have seen that fortress on the hill over the centuries and felt relief, knowing that here was a place safe for travelers, patrolled against thieves and highwaymen. What an idea the Templars had . . . to live, train, pray, fight, and die with your brothers, all in service of those things that are good in the world. Things are not so clear cut now as they were then . . . although perhaps things were confusing then as well, and we have impressed clarity upon them in retrospect. Perhaps such organizations devoted to militant good only arise in times of great chaos (in which case I’m glad they don’t exist now), and perhaps they always become corrupted as the Templars did.

Christ! I have a long way to go still to Santiago. Spain is big – the views from the castle yesterday and Berbegal today have shown me that much.

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