Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Day 26 Camino de Santiago July 31 Astorga

Happy Birthday Martha!
    Martha is my "aunt" even though she is neither my mom or my dad's sister... You might have to be from the South to understand that relationship.  Anyway it goes, she is one of the most beautiful people you could ever meet.  Wish you could.  She's an angel on Earth.
     Okay Mert, if that doesn't get me into your will, I give up!Ha!
     Astorga has to be one of my favorite cities in Spain.  In fact, yes, I even think it is more enjoyable than Segovia.  Beautiful cathedral, though rather ill planned, a house built by Gaudi that is actually attractive, medieval streets, cobblestone, beautiful parks, perfect weather, Life is good...
     The day started like most - with me being the last to leave the albergue.  It's kind of nice, because then I have the entire day to myself to think, which goes something like this....walk myself to exhaustion,  beat my "self" to pieces for the first 1/2 of the day, then spend the rest of the day reassembling my "self", then a nice dinner, a walk about town, see a few people that I've met over the last 25 days and off to bed to do again the next day.   Simple and enjoyable.  Of all the things that my eyes will miss, it will be the 1000's of gardens with incredible flowers and vegetables.  Makes me think of Uncle Johnny, Dad, and growing up on the farm as a wee little kid.
    Not much rolling today and a long day to boot.  28K.  Started off going through a tunnel of over brush and trees. Walked over 50 canals today that if I could teach my pack to float would have been like rafting the Colorado, minus the Canyon... the river... okay, it would have been like Libertyland River.
    No blog of mine is complete without the picture of food.  Here was a cafe that was glorious.  I had walked for about 12k at a good clip and without stopping and saw a sign that said "homemade bread".  Done.  I'm there.  I don't care if they spread sheep dip on it.... it's homemade bread right!!??  One thing my ears will miss is no matter where you eat in a fine restaurant or a street cafe, if a person walks by your table, they will say, "Buon Provecho!"  Which you can probably guess means, "bon appetit".  My blog may be the only blog in the world where you can gain weight just by reading it.
  We crossed a bridge today that was built in the 13th century and is over 200 meters long with 19 arches.  A huge battle was fought here in 456AD... What you didn't know that??  Me neither...  Guess it was really important at the time, however.

As I was on the bridge I saw this man trout fishing.  I asked him in beautiful Spanish, "Hey!  Ya got any?"  He, unfortunately, thought I could speak Spanish and yelled back a whole bunch of words and the best I could make out is that his friend in the next picture caught a 3 kilo trout.  That's about 6.5 lbs.  Whoa!  That's a horse of a fish!


 If I see another trout stream and I'm in a good way, I'll ask if one of these guys wants to be my guide for a day.  Frankly, catching a fish would probably be too much for my little heart, so I'll be happy just wading in the river and casting over and over.    Yeah, I'm talking myself into it.


From here the trail starts to go up gradually.  Tomorrow it jumps but not so steep.  The next day is labeled" ridiculous" and the following day is "slightly less ridiculous".  So rather than worry about what will be here in a couple of days, I decided to enjoy the day as it is.  Flat - and with cornfields.  The largest corn maize in the world, is here in August.
    The trail was poorly marked from this point on.  In fact, it split at one point and all hikers felt like it was because the local bars in towns not on the Camino want a piece of the action.  I get it.  We keep many of the small towns alive.  Many a time I was scratching my head which way to go, and every blue moon I'd come across a sign like this, which may have been overkill, I dunno.

      Finally I got to the outskirts of Astorga, which is gorgeous.  It was like I had passed through every previous biome today - grapes, wheat, corn, sunflowers, hay.  I will miss the sunflowers.  And they will miss me...they told me so!  auuugghhh!    Did I mention the wildflowers??  The red poppies, blue and yellow daisies, and ...no..no... they don't talk.  Of course they don't talk... that would be crazy!

      Then to reach this promontory was awesome.  Made me think of a spot in Juneau where you can be at Gastineau Lookout.  He founded Juneau.  (He is Gastineau...not Lookout!!)  There are some serious bikers...or at least they are dressed for business.  I wonder though if it's like in baseball, some of the teams with the fanciest uniforms were pitiful.  In fact, I think I passed these bikers!!

 I walked through suburb after suburb and finally got a picture of the cathedral on the hill in the city.  Too bad...the albergues are always near the cathedral, so that meant I was going to be climbing another hill.   It's okay.  I'm looking forward to Astorga.  They are famous for their chocolate and for two deserts - mantecadas and hojaldres - both of which I've already tasted!!  Why wait for dinner, right?
They are not the best I've had.  The chocolate has rave reviews from a British lady.  Can't wait to try that.

 The albergue I'm staying in, which is behind this pilgrim who looks more like a 49er, has beautiful music playing so I asked the manager who it was and he said it was a 24 hour mix.  25 minutes later he brings me  CD copy.  I love it!!  In the park next to me is a band playing in the gazebo.  So cool.  No, really cool.  The park is on a promontory and the wind is blowing a nice refreshing zephyr.  (Never thought I'd get to use that word!)

This is a building designed by Gaudi for the Bishop.  Unfortunately, before the house could be finished, Gaudi had had a major falling out with the Church and the Bishop said, "I no gonna liva there!"    Bishops can be like that you know!
    The cathedral is big and attractive from the outside, though the interior is very narrow, only seats a few hundred, and is dark.  Other than that, it's gorgeous!!
     Okay, now to close out Astorga with the weird and weirder:
The dish the town is most famous for is Cocido Maragato which is the typical dish of the Maragatería. It contains goat's blood sausage, ½ a chicken, pork, a pig's ear, a pig's trotter, a slice of pig's snout, chorizo, chickpeas, cabbage, potatoes and garlic.  They lost me at the blood, snout, and ear ingredients.


The other is this warrior chic at a department store window.  I'm sorry, but if you are going to kill me at least have the decency to wear a bra or chain mail.

If I have to choose between fighting Russell Crowe-like gladiators and a topless Amazon.... Really, you have to ask??

It would be distracting.

Stay focused.
Stay focused.
Stay focused.



“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, July 30, 2012

Day 25 Camino de Santiago July 30, Villadangos del Paramos

Great sleep last night!  Stayed in a 1 star hotel with my own bathroom.  No one sleeping above me, next to me, below me... Even got to watch the Olympics, if you call watching Spain lose to Honduras in soccer.  As soccer goes, it was a great game... lot's of scoring - 1 to 0!!  The goalie for Honduras had tons of saves and Spainish players could only shake their head.  The announcer kept screaming, "Que Lastima!!!"
       I went to visit the Hotel San Marcos on the way out of Leon this morning after I left my hotel at 8:30.  That sounds early to me, but trust me, these peligrinos are dead serious.  They get up at 4:30, 5:30 to leave.  They get to the same spot I do, just two or three hours earlier.  Go figure.
    The Hotel San Marcos is a truly beautiful building, and if I had someone to share it with, I'd have happily dropped the 100 E a night.  That's why ya work, right!!??!

  I would have walked more today but left leg said, "Nope!"  There was a tunnel to walk through today that made kids of old men...older than me... People were hooting and hollering to hear an echo.  I met the sweetest old man on the trail who had carved a walking cane.  It was much too fragile for the trail, but it would have been a great memento.


 Okay, help me with this.... This is a water tower, that the town owners must have decided was unattractive... so they spend thousands of dollars on a metal screen for it.  Made it look like a Titan Missile silo, only above ground.  How did this happen???  Lucky for you, I did some research and have the transcripts from the town hall meeting:
Mayor:  Okay, we have 100,000 Euros left in the budget.  How should we spend it?  I'm opening the floor for suggestions....
Teacher - Well, as you know, our library was built in 1947 and we have only 13 books in it.  Two of the children have already read 12 of them.  What will they do next??
Concerned citizen - Oh for the love of Pedro... how many books do they need?  That's a book a year.  I don't read no books, and ain't I okay?!!
Mayor - Anyone else with an idea?
Nurse - We are almost out of penicillin, bandages, and yellow fever serum.  We could use these things and save tons of lives.
Concerned citizen - What are they doing with all my tax money that they claim is being spent on our Universal Health Care???
Mayor - anyone else?
Concerned citizen - Well, I been looking at that there water tower and I come up with an idear that I seen over in Villa del Rio.  Let's put a metal fencing all the way around it.  Make it look like one of them there Missile silos!!
Mayor - Sounds good to me!  Good suggestion Dad!   When can your metalworks company begin the construction?
Concerned Citizen - You sure gotta love this Deemocracy thang!

Change before you have to.

Fes, Morocco June 2012

Fes, June, 2012

Of all the cities in Morocco that I was looking forward to, Fes had to be the second one that I most wanted to visit.  It is home to the oldest Souq in Morocco and one of the oldest in the world.  It’s been a functioning market for over 800 years.  I enjoyed the train, as it is clean, run well, and air conditioned.  It was also practically empty... though not quite empty enough.    I had been warned by guidebooks and by trusted people in other Moroccan cities that the touts in Fes were the worst in all of Morocco.  
As I boarded the train to Fes from Casablanca, I found a car with no one in it except one older man.  He got off after a couple of stops and “Farud” entered.  Farud spoke pretty good English and when I asked him he said that he had a restaurant in Tokyo...which didn’t explain how he knew English...  even showed me a picture of his Japanese wife, who looked about as Japanese as most Moroccans do.  He was a very fast talker and asking a thousand questions a minute.  Very assertive.  
  “I do not like this guy!”  I said to myself.  
  “Where are you staying?” he asked.
I knew of a Riad that I was not staying so I told him.
  “I have an American friend who just opened a brand new Riad.  Very clean.  AC... Wifi”
‘No thanks,” I said, “I’ve got one.”
“How much you pay?” he asked.
“25 Euro a night,” I replied.
“Too much.” he replied with a dismissal of his hand.  “My friend can get you a room for 1/2 that.”
“No thanks!” I assured him, unfortunately he had gone stone deaf.
“Here, talk to him,” he said as he handed me the phone.”  
"Hello?" I said, not sure what I was about to get into.  Maybe the ear piece had knock-out powder on it.  
"Yes, this is Jason!" the phone replied..." I have a brand new riad... with ac, wifi, and very very  clean." 
   At least that is what I think he said, as his accent, (and it was not a Brooklyn accent) was so strong.   I finally convinced him that I was not interested and he wanted to talk Farud.  At the next stop, without so much as a "goodbye, see ya, have a nice trip" he got off the train.
I was so sorry to see him leave...NOT!
    Fes is suppose to be on everyone's agenda to visit, but I saw very little that made me think that if I had skipped it, I would have missed much.  Maybe I was tired. Maybe I was hot.  Maybe not.  
    As I left the train station to get a cab to my riad, a 40ish man approached me and said he worked with the Morocco Tourism Dept., and showing me a badge that was a 3rd maybe 4th grade forgery at best.  The conversation was rough and I won't go into great detail except to say that sometimes, kindness is perceived as a weakness.  He kept wanting me to go with him to his cab which was not at the train station.  I kept telling him that if he had a cab, bring it to the train station.  When he would act like he didn't understand, I'd start to walk away from him. At one point he grabbed my arm and I let into him.  He continued with the "come... we go to my cab!"  I  continued to ignore him and found a very old man who actually DID have a cab at the train station.  I negotiated with him, all the while the man is screaming at the old man, as if I belonged to him.  The old man tried to ignore him and told me to get in the cab... "Where is a friggin' cop?!?!?!" was all I could think.  
    So I'm sitting in the cab and I look out the back window and see the guy pushing the old man around.  "That is i!,"  I thought. I got out and the old man was taking my back out of the trunk and told me to find another cab. I did, and actually even got a better price, though I felt sorry for the old man.    Welcome to friggin' Fes!!

The red cab is the one that gave me a ride to the Riad and eventually I walked from there to the Souq.  The cabs all look like they've been to hell and back.  The gate in the background is the very beginning for the Souq and is remarkably preserved to be over 1000 years old.  

    This old man is delivering gas to the restaurants in the Souq.  I felt so safe knowing that he smoked, the people he delivered to smoked, their customers smoked....Let's all get blown up together!!   Yet, it all seems to work.
    I visited another tannery in Fes, mostly because I met someone who had said that it was even better than the Marrakech tanneries.   Also because I got a 12 year boy to be my guide.  Okay, he got me.  I never asked him to be my guide.  He just walked in front of me and, as we passed different "points of interest", he would say, "This is where to buy spice!"  and "This is place to buy almonds", and so on.  This is looking down into the outdoor tannery.  It's where they dye the leathers and is incredibly stinky.  I don't fully understand it, but this is where pigeon poop is used in the process.
    As much as I appreciated his useless banter, he was totally unnecessary.  At the end, after the tanneries, I gave him 5 dirhams, but...  (remember this is Fes) some older and bigger kid came and the kid gave him the dirhams.  "Fine" I thought, "If that's how you want to invest your money, so be it."   Then he came back to me and asked, er... demanded more money, and I told him no.  Little language barrier here, but "NO", is pretty universal.  The older kid tried to explain.  I laughed, "REally, you are trying to explain that I should be part of your scam??"  Scram!     Man, I love Fes!!    Oh did I mention that it's 110 degrees?
    To get an idea of how big these "pots" are, look in the NE corner to see a man working under an umbrella.  It's good to see that his union is looking after him and got him some shade!
    Speaking of the riad... (I really need to work on these segways), Here is what it looks like.  It's four stories with a balcony on top for hanging laundry.  I nearly scalped myself... twice!!.  Once on the balcony when I didn't duck for the third ibeam and once going into the manager's office to pay.  Why her door was only 5'11" is beyond me.  
     My room was not something that I would recommend to anyone but it did have one saving grace that the nicer rooms did not have... AC!  God bless whoever invented AC.  He must have been one "cool" dude!

To get to the riad, was a bit of a maze, but once I found it, it was fairly easy to get to the Souq and back...  go out the door, turn right where the huge dog droppings are... go to you see a Coca-Cola sign and turn left, then right at the little hole in the wall shop that I bought my water in, turn right again where the fountain is and left at the huge pothole... and viola... the Souq!
      I wanted to see another part of Fes so I headed in the opposite direction of the Souq.  I passed a private school complete with an artificial turf for it's soccer field.  Soccer is one of those sports that's much more fun to play than to watch, though with the Euro Cup, it's been more interesting to me.  Still.... widen those goals!!!!
   As I began my decent back to the riad, I came across this kid selling apples in really cool looking baskets.  I asked him if he minded if I took his picture and he gave me the okay.  A few minutes later, as he's pushing the cart, one of the baskets breaks open and apples were rolling down the hill.  I helped him pick them up and it made me think of the story of the lion and the mouse.  

This is a picture of what appears to be Morocco's Declaration of Independence complete with the names on it.  Makes me think of what happened to these guys who signed it.  They didn't get their independence from France for another 12 years after this manifesto was signed.


A nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.  ~Elmer Davis

You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness.  You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.  
~Erma Bombeck


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Day 24 Camino de Santiago July 29, Leon

Leon... If you had told me three months ago that I'd be on the Camino for 24 days, I would have thought you were nuts.  Yet, here I is...  I have officially either passed everyone I started with or they have passed me up.  No worries.  People keep popping up from long ago.  The guy in the bunk next to me last night, Gunther...yes, that's right!  What a memory you have, is the same Gunther from Berlin who is a retired sanitation worker that bunked above me in St. Jean Pied du Pont.  Poor guy, still tries to talk to me in German.  He was full of welts from bedbugs!
    First picture of the day, may be the best of the trip.  Gotta love it.  Makes me think of Nicholas when he was little and would follow me around the yard saying, "I'm a worker man!"  What happened to that guy!?!?!  Get a job kid! ha!
The goal today was 22k to Leon, which is famous for their gothic cathedral.  You hear about it and the one in Burgos the most.  There are huge differences, but one thing I found really interesting was that when they built it beginning in 1250, there were only 5,000 people living in Leon!  That's Payson!  Imagine Payson building one of these...of course, it would be a rodeo grounds.

    What is different about this Gothic cathedral and others, is that about this time, architects discovered that they didn't need to make the walls solid stone.  The belief, until 1250 was that the walls had to be solid, or the cathedral would crumble under it's own weight.  BUT NO!!!  It wasn't true!  The previous architects had wasted lots of stone and created huge dark cathedrals.  This one is huge, but has tons of stain glass in it!
    Okay, stain glass is not measured by tonnage, it's measured by square meters and in the Leon cathedral, there are 1,800 square meters of stain glass.  For you non Europeans, that's 19,375 square feet of stain glass.  If your house is 1500 square feet, that would be like 13 houses in wall to wall stain glass.

Just to give you an idea of how big the cathedral is, look at the size of the crown on top of the cathedral.  Okay, she is a short lady, but still,  that's a to of weight to be on top of something so high over people's heads.

Leon also has a reputation as one of the cleanest cities in Spain.  Personally, I think the cities in the north are overall much cleaner than the cities in the south.  In the north, they park on the sidewalks, in the south, they drive on the sidewalks.  Okay, not exactly.

    Leon has a super tourist/pedestrian friendly area around the cathedral.  It is full of bars, restaurants, ice cream shops, souvenir shops, etc.  It's fun to walk around.  Sunday must be seriously old ladies night out.  And they stay out.  One group of ladies commandeered everyone one of the tables at three different restaurants, all nursing one drink...for 3 hours!

 One of the restaurants had a pilgrim's menu and boy did I enjoy it.  Water and bread!  Yep, a true pilgrim's menu...okay, it also came with a 1st course of  artichokes and ham followed by a 2nd course of grilled fish.  What kind, I do not know...or care.  It was dead, cooked and eaten!  3rd course was cheese cake.  Life ain't all bread and water, ya know!

    Is anyone happy with their Senate?  I think it's the same everywhere.  In fact, I'm beginning to wonder if it's just a natural feeling of representative government.  Not that we should change...every system will have its pitfalls, but... this sign says, "Thank you Senators, for betraying the people of Leon".

I thought this was a Mafia thing.  Bit overkill with the concrete, don't you think?  Apparently, he wasn't well thought of by someone.  Tough neighborhood!!

“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” 
 Robert Frost

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 23 Camino de Santiago July 28,Mansilla de las Mulas

    I arrived at the El Burgo Ranero albergue to a welcoming committee of the elderly.  There were four of them and they were tripping over themselves to be helpful.  One lady's job was to give a tour to the new guests that went something like this:  "Here is the kitchen.  That is the stove.  That is the sink..."  Hmmm, thanks!
The lady in the picture's job was to record the information in my Credencia which took 20 minutes to do a 50 second job.  So cute!!  I asked how much it cost and they all said in unison, "Donation"!
"Es gratis?" I said with a smile.
"No," grandma #3 said.  "It's one million dollars."
I smiled again and replied, "No problem.  Who do I give the check to?"
They all laughed and then started in on my bag.
"Es muy grande, si?" they asked.
"Si!" I laughed, "Pero yo soy un hombre con mucho fuerte!!"  (But I am a very strong man!) and then I flexed.
They all laughed. (Little muscles have that effect on people!!!)   I took my day pack out, and they asked what was in that?
"Oro!" (gold) I replied and they giggled again.
"Quantos anos usted?" she asked.  (treinta?  cuarenta?) How old are you? 30?  40?
I motioned higher and said, "56".  Then the mumbling started and I left so some of the other pilgrims could get registered before it was time to leave the next morning.

    That night at the aubergue, we had rain for the very first time on the trip.  Made me realize how ill prepared I am for it.  I'll need to pick up a couple more things, but one of the best evenings I've had.  While it was raining gatos y perros all of the pilgrims were either in their beds upstairs or playing games/cooking dinner in the communal kitchen, or sitting around talking.  I felt like doing none of those and sat on the front step of the aubergue watching it rain and listening to iTunes.  I was in heaven.  A couple of Spanish bikers came out and we talked for a couple of minutes about why I was entranced with the rain, when everyone else was cursing the rain... "Well, you see... I haven't seen rain in 5 months and..."

The restaurant pictured is where I had lunch and dinner.  My "waitress" was Fatima, the 6 year old daughter of the cook.  She saw me working on the computer and came over to see pictures of the trip and then she wouldn't leave.  The only way for me to get her to leave was to start asking her to solve simple math problems, like, "what is the circumference of a circle that has a diameter of 15. 2 inches.  She was totally baffled!!!  Must be use to metrics.

Earlier in the afternoon, I was bone tired but needed to charge my computer so I plugged it in and sat at a table next to the outlet.  I couldn't keep my eyes open so, being the only one in the bar, I went to sleep with my head on the table.  Dang if two nine hundred year old men decided to hold a domino tournament on the table behind me.  Every time one would play a tile, he'd slam it down and call out the number!  Needless to say, I got sporadic sleep.


After my "nap", I went walking about the Clint Eastwood town and saw many wall made of adobe.  This one reminded me of walls in Tibet that had similar walls but with flattened pancake like patties of yak poop.  We thought that it was an odd hobby to have until we found out that the women use these to cook and to heat the house with.  Pretty smart since there are no trees to burn.

   Speaking of poop... this flower (holly hock??) must be an adherent to the "bloom where you are planted" as it is growing in a sewer basin.  See...there is beauty in everything.  Sometimes you just have to wade through...stuff... to see it.

Along the Camino, there are several rest stops which seem to come about at the exact right moment.  Today was the "rock in the shoe" day.  It seemed that I couldn't go fifty feet, er sorry...16 meters, without getting a rock in my shoe.  No matter how much I tried to ignore it, the little voice in my brain would say, "You're going to get a blister.  Take the time to stop and take it out... or you are going to be  sorry!!'
    I rolled about 13 of the 19 k today.  Gave my back a rest.  Someone joked that I looked like I missed my flight or that the shuttle between airport terminals was broken.  It sure makes life easier, especially since the Camino was the road today.

 The green thing hanging from the pack is my towel.  My $35 towel, that dries mucho rapid!!  Worth every penny!  I'd rather lose my backpack than that towel.  (ever try drying off with a backpack??)

The entry sign to the town of Reliegos, which is in front of a bodega which is used to store wine. vegetables, and bratty kids.  I would like to see the inside, but they are all locked up tighter than a drum.
   Reliegos is famous for something else.   In 1948, a meteorite slammed into Earth in "downtown".  The meteorite was over 20 lbs. and dug a hole over a foot deep.  I believe that if I was standing near there and it smashed into the ground next to me, God would have forgiven me for saying WTF!!!!???!
I mean really, I think even God would have been laughing at seeing me jump out of my skin.

 I had to put this in.  I saw some seriously whacked graffiti today, but this one made me laugh.  "Free Leon!" and "Leon pais" = Someone wants the city of Leon to be an independent country.  Okay so let's see, Barcelona, Basque, Galicia, Valencia and now Leon all want their independence.... If I was the President, I'd hire one of the 40% unemployed to be my official Secretary of the Car Starting Department!

    When the Camino IS the road, or right next to it, then I try to roll. Today was a roller day.  I was awoken too early this morning by "hurry uppers".  These are pilgrims who hurry up and leave in the morning, at about 6:00 to beat the heat.  Then they get to their destination and complain about nothing to do, or they are so sleepy that they take a nap.  I tell you this because, for me, sleeping is the most difficult part of the Camino.  I can handle the blisters, bruises, strains, etc, because that's what I expect from the daily grind of walking 20 - 25 k a day.  BUT, the crowded dorms, smelly bodies, oh well...you know me, I'm a germaphobe, and anytime someone is coughing in a dorm, I feel like the cooties are flying over my head, smashing into my headboard and falling into my nostrils.  But for 5E... really??
   I made it all the way to the town of Mansilla de las Mulas.
Strange name for a town.  Hand Saddle of the Mules...  reckon it's because they have a big horse show here during the year.   What is a hand saddle??  I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question!  I had no intention of staying here.  I arrived at 12:30 and decided to get a drink at this aubergue.  It's called El Jardin del Camino - The Garden of the Camino.  It is beautiful.  Real manicured green grass with tables and new facilities.  All of 5 E as well.  But the clincher was they have Wifi  (or WEE Fee as it is known in Spain).  I also got to pick out my bunk which is by the windows and has more room to go through my back pack.  Funny how something so significant can be so significant.  Kinda like "minor surgery" is surgery on someone else.  The other clincher for staying in Mansilla is the fact that there is a medieval festival tonight.  This is a merry go round that the man turns with a hand crank.

Let's see...how can this end well.... it can't!!  Somebody is going to lose an eye!!

 This is a relatively small town, guessing under 12,000 people, but for a festival, they probably draw the surrounding villages as well.    The first thing I saw when I went to the festival was a kid swinging a sword.  I can't begin to tell you how much that bothers me.  It's a parent's nightmare and a principal's nightmare.

These were the people working and staying at our Albergue.  I like how they got into costume and enjoyed the festival.   Reminded me of Pamplona and how many people were really into it.

  I walked off the square and heard a dog barking.  Couldn't find him anywhere until I looked high up into what would be someone's attic.  Poor thing.  A Spanish couple knocked on the door and he got free.  Can you say, Gaduh!!


This drummer man seemed to be upset with the pig torturer about something...hmmm...can't imagine why????  Menacing sky...but no rain.
They had several games for kids to play, and several required them to work together to solve the problem.  The first is one where two string pull a disc up a board with holes in it.  The object is to get the disc to the top without it falling through one of the holes.  Pull to hard to the left  or right and...start all over!

The second game required holding a board with a walnut on it.  The board had holes in it and the object is to get it from one end to the other without falling through the holes. 

But the show stopper, the creme de la creme, the most adorable picture goes to...

I told you that I got a good room and cot with a gorgeous view.  Here it is.  

Forgive, forget, forge on!                                                                             Reflect, Recover, Redirect!

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi