I was so enchanted with the peace and quiet of the Monastery of Leyre that I couldn’t quite decide whether I should stay another night. It wasn’t expensive (42.50 for a single with bath is a bargain for such a lovely spot) and even though the menu de la noche was a bit disappointing (for 16.50), the Rumanian waiter was very friendly and I even learned to say Note Boona, or something like it.
So I said: “Go for it. You deserve it.”
The next morning, of course, was pouring with rain. In fact the thunderstorms in which I had arrived had been circulating ever since. Never mind. A good day to catch up with my diary and explore a little. I took the “tour” at 3 o´clock (in Spanish) and saw the crypt, Virila´s burial place, and the interesting story of how this monastery was abandoned in 1937 only to come back to life just a few years ago. I even learned that Diego Pelaez, (see earlier blogs for lots about him) had been present at the consecration of the monastery church in 1098, which was only a few years after he was released from Alfonso VI’s prison, and just a few before his death.
Then, the clouds having receded and the sun venturing a glipse through, I decided I would follow the marked trail to find the Holy Fuente of San Virila.
It was lovely; every now and then there would be a rock with a bible verse or something similar. But it was also farther than I had thought, and when I finally got there I almost missed it: a little dribble out of the mountains high above the monastery.
And then I lost the trail on the way down!
Normally, if you do up a mountain, then down is the obvious way back and this was the direction I took. But the foliage was so thick that at many points I thought the only thing to do was to turn around and try to climb back. That didn´t look too easy either. No wonder Virila disappeared for 300 years. For a while, as the sound of distant thunder added to my dilemma, I had visions of turning up at the bottom of the hill to nothing but ruins of an old monastery, and the far-rusted remains of what looked vaguely like a Volvo C70!
And then I got to the bottom, exactly where I had climbed up. A woman with a child asked me if the spring was very far. “Yes,” I said, and wanted to say “about 300 years!”
I had picked some lavender along the way. The woman decided to take my word for it and turned back towards the herb garden. I noticed that she was accompanied by a child of perhaps eight with Down´s Syndrome. I said hello and was greeted with a delighted and delightful smile. I gave him my lavender which he put immediately to his nose and smelled it, laughing because he said it tickled. I was to see them later in church at the 7 o´clock service. The child was fast asleep on his father’s shoulder. After Laudes, I plucked up the courage and asked if I could sing. The couple and the child were still there (I usually wait til everyone has gone). The child slept right through, but the parents thanked me and asked me if I were professional.
“No,” I said. “I am just an acoustic collector!”
And these echoed with 900 years of faith and mystery.
What a lovely spot.