Tuesday, 21 July 2009

"Don't It Always Seem To Go.....

...that you don't know what you got til it's gone..."

Sunday July 12th: Today would have been a pretty boring one at this point not far from hallway on the Camino Portuguese had it not been for the man in the alleyway.

I emerge from the shower with hair in a towel and look out on to the road below. Something doesn't seem quite right and once I look more closely I see a man flat out in the alleyway just a couple of metres from the very busy main road and with his head dangerously close to a wall. I make a run for it to the reception desk (actually very fast hopping would be more accurate).

"Hay un hombre en el suelo en el callejon en frente...!" They move very fast. One man phones the ambulance and the two women run past the Posada and down to the road. I stand with my turban on watching the drama unfold. What has happened here? Is he OK? A neighbour emerges in the alleyway and then another. One of the women from the Posada comes back: "He's sleeping..." she says, in Portuguese.

Now, one does not usually fall asleep in an alleyway and I think that even if he is drunk (which turned out to be the case) he still could have been injured by a fall, or could choke on his own vomit, or have alcohol poisoning and luckily the ambulance turns up very soon, all yellow and important. I go back up to my room and watch from my front road seat. After a while a stretcher is produced. The man seems to be sitting up. He is shaking his head Eventually he is helped to the ambulance and it takes off, though minus the siren it came with.

Either his wife or his Mom ain't gonna like this!

Breakfast and then the tourist office. I am finding it difficult to get up the "ganas" to move much but eventually get on my way. I walk almost to Rubiaes and the albergue when I stop in for a beer. A man in a silver Renault says there is a pilgrim hostal just before the ascent into the village. It is a difficult walk he tells me. Would I like a lift?

Now of course, I should tell you how I refused explaining my Holy Pilgrimage to the remains of Santiago, how he insisted, telling me that accepting his help would bring the Light of Grace into his weary day, how I would hesitate, he would insist, I would capitulate through sheer compassion for his fate.... "Yes, please!" I said in English.

His name was Artur. He rode a silver warhorse. I was "there" in five minutes, and he was right: there was a lot of up.

What I arrived at, however, was a private hostal called O Reposa do Peregrino. I was shown a room for 15 euros including breakfast. I gathered that with the buidling of the Albergue at Rubiaes pilgrims tended not to stop at the Hostal any longer. I was told, and I do mean told, that a minibus would be by at 6:30 to take me to dinner which it did.

Dinner was excellent (Bar Constantinio which I do recommend). Afterwards I was sitting outside with my wine and coffee when I saw a man with one leg cut off above the knee. He was chatting to a young guy about something. It made me really think. After he left supported by a strong metal walking stick, I asked the young man about him. "What happened," I asked. He told me the man had had serious problems with circulation in his legs. I thought that it must have been really serious and likely a long time ago. When did this happen? "Just a year ago..."

And I have been complaining about my blisters!

Friedrich Nietzsche says in Thus Spoke Zarathustra that no matter what kind of life you have lived prior to the moment, if at that one moment you can feel how wonderful life is, how happy you are to be you, and many true blessings you have, then ever thing before - even the most negative - which has lead you to that point, is to be thanked: We say "Yes and Amen" to Life at this point. I felt this at that very moment...

Nietzsche - you were right...

Yes and Amen.

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