The pilgrims have been stealing the TP. I´d suspected it for a while, but now I´m sure, because when we arrived in the afternoon at the luxury hotel/albergue in Villafranca there were in each of the two ladies´room stalls four rolls of TP stacked on a fancy TP- stacking tower (Tom assures me it was the same in the mens´room) and by the next morning there was not a sheet of TP in any of the stalls! (And there were not that many pilgrims in the albergue!) In the morning the French lady in the stall next to mine discovered the lack of TP too late so I gave her some of my private stash. (I never enter a stall without a roll of TP squashed in my pocket). When I lamented to her the theft of the TP, the French lady, who I guess is more enveloped in the spirit of the Camino than me, disagreed that the TP had been stolen, but believed that it had rolled off according to natural progression. Maybe. But I´ve caught young theiving pilgrims snatching grapes from the gorgeous purple bunches that hang in the vineyards along the Cammino. I think to myself, "Not cool, little pigrim brothers and sisters. You maybe think you are only taking a few grapes, but it´s stealing all the same from the farmer who raised those grapes by the sweat of his brow and needs every one of them to make a living to support his family. Instead you should do as the Scoutmaster and his wife and help yourself to the tons of wild sweet, delicious blackberries that grow everywhere along the Camino. " Of course, I´ve never said anything to the pilfering pilgrims. Mainly because my next thought always reminds me that before I try to pluck the grape from my fellow pilgrim´s hand I should dispose of the watermelon in my own hand. Metaphorically speaking.
On Friday the weather turned from scorching hot to a cold, wiiiinnnndy rain. We left Villafranca de Montes de Oca and walked 16 km to the town of Ages. After 12 km we stopped for lunch in San Juan de Ortega, a pilgrim guide watering stop-over town which, as far as we could see, consisted of a church, the municipal albergue, and a little cafe. So we joined our fellow pilgrim herd for lunch where we had ham and cheese sandwiches on crusty loaves, a diet coke for me and a roll of cookies. The cookies in Spain come in rolls, kind of like giant rolls of pennies. My favorite to date are the lemon creme-filled, but this cafe only had chocolate filled, still we were happy. Until after paying for our lunch we realized that we were almost our of cash. I asked the cafe owner if there was a cash machine in town. He said no, the closest cash machine was in Borgos - a day-and-a half-walk away! I then asked him if there was a bus from the town to Burgos, but he said no. So after lunch we continued on in the rain until we blew into Ages where there also was no cash machine or bus to Burgos. We reviewed our financial situ and concluded that we had enough cash for two beds in the Ages municipal albergue at 9 euros each, a picnic dinner of bread and chesse, or something, enough for breakfast and maybe a light lunch, and two euroes left to write my blog (which the alberugue computer devoured then maliciously delivered nada! Happens ofter here. Grrr!). But we lucked out because the first floor of the municipal albergue was a sort of deli/bar, where for 2euros 50 each we were able to get a big slice of potato quiche, a hunk of bread and a side of mild peppers that went very well with the quiche. The dorm room on the second floor was spotless and spacious with wonderful (gender segregated - always nice!) bathrooms. The dorm was kind of like a big gym divided into two areas. Our area had dozens of beds but there were only four other pilgrims there besides us. I think that night was about my favorite albergue night because we hit it off so well with out dorm mates: Phillip, a young German medical engineering student; Andy, a young Londoner and enthusiastic foodie who owns a restaurant and pub called "The Grove" (In case you ever get to London); Jerry another Londoner who´s retired; and Pat, a retired Irishman. We talked and laughed (Who´d have thought that blisters, aching knees and shin splints could make for such lively and entertaing conversation!) into the wee hours, ´til almost 9:30 pm! Then the next morning it was up for the cafe´s breakfast: a large plate containing a giant croissant, a thick slice of bread, a sweet rolls and a chocolate croissant, (always a carb-a-rama around here!) orange juice, coffee for Tom and tea for me. Then it was out once more into the windy rain. Destination: Burgos and a cash machine. More to follow! In the meantime, I wish you all a day full of good, good things. Love, Patti 8)