Tuesday, August 6, 2013

You don't want to miss this.

Tarta de Santiago!
A title like that you'd think I was giving away a million dollars or something. No, this is actually just another random post about el Camino. A few people from the group have been posting pictures and as I look at them I can't help but think, "wow I can't believe we were there...and there...and did that... and walked up that..." Needless to say, I'm feeling quite nostalgic today, and well, pretty much every day since we've been back. The day I returned mom's boss came over and commented on how tan I was, which I obviously loved, and yesterday after giving my talk at church a nice woman I know commented on the fact that I should be more tan after getting back from Florida and Spain! Hmph. Vanity of vanities I suppose.... am I right?

The reason I told you that is because my Spanish-ness is already wearing off, and I'm not ready. To honor that, today I tried my hand at making a Tarta de Santiago, an almond cake typical to the region that we were hiking in Spain. It was a fun, and pretty easy baking adventure for me. The hardest part was actually cutting out the stencil of the St. James cross/sword. Let's be real, if I'm going to make a St. James cake, I'm doing the whole thing, no halfway powdered sugar, hence the design. The best part, as it usually is when I cook or bake in mom and dad's house, was using the KitchenAid mixer, the Ninja blender/chopper and having a fully-stocked kitchen with everything that I needed. I blanched almonds for the first time, and it turned out to be a piece of cake (literally....get it??)! Dad and I had some for dessert tonight with a cup of coffee and, as I guessed, I'm still unable to fall asleep from the caffeine I drank at 6 pm. Oh dear.

So the story I'd like to tell you in this post is about our hike this day, I believe day six in the walk, to O'Cebreiro. This just so happened to be one of our hardest and longest days, with a hike of 19+ miles, and after we broke silence with some cafe con leche, everybody split up, as usual, to hike at their own pace. Anna and I decided to walk together for a bit, and it wasn't long after that when we ran into Brother Marcielo (yellow) and Samuel (blue). Brother Marcielo is actually a Franciscan brother from Brazil and he was that guy that became friends with every person along the Camino. It was pretty incredible, actually, and I wonder what it's like for him now that he's back home. He certainly has no problems socializing, and is great at holding a conversation...in Spanish at least. He doesn't speak much English, so I enjoyed being around him to get some valuable practice.

Anna and I ran into the two of them right before we took this picture, and we kind of naturally just split up two and two, Anna talking with Brother and I was talking, mostly listening, with/to Samuel from La Calabria in southern Italy, a beautiful part of Italy flowing with incredible cheese and beer (apparently...sounds like another magical land with which I am quite familiar). Without even knowing my name, Samuel just starts rattling off Italian words and phrases to me, speaking with me as any excited, extroverted, 19-year-old boy without mom and dad would do. Luckily for him I was able to understand and follow most of what he was saying, thanks to Matteo Gilebbi, my Italian 201 T.A. from sophomore year. We ended up walking and talking for over an hour and a half, sharing life, trying to translate what he was saying into both Spanish and English, and trying to help him understand my Spanish, because I speak that much better than I do Italian. We ended up actually having a pretty deep conversation and I even attempted sharing the Gospel with him in Italian/Spanish! That's a first for me, and although he wasn't really having it, it definitely pushed me outside my comfort zone. It was incredibly interesting hearing the common rebuttals we hear today in the U.S. of why we don't need the Church..but in Italian. It was hard for me to explain the importance, so I tried to get broader and move to the whole relationship with Jesus thing to see how that would work. Looking back, I'd say it was a good hike!

When we got to the top of a crazy steep hill that we dominated in very little time, not only was I out of breath, but I was also out of food, and needed some lunch. Samuel didn't seem to desire the same lunch as me (bocadillo with jamón and cheese...my staple lunch every single day), so I walked into a bar and that was where 3 nice Spaniards put a handful of peanuts and a beer in my hand, striking up a conversation with me. I always enjoy seeing the look on native Spanish-speakers' faces when they see that not only do I understand what they are saying, but I respond with wit. If I had a euro for every time that happened on the trip... that would be worthless, because now I'm in the U.S. But at the time, I could've treated a lot of people to ice cream! I ended up remaining friends with those guys throughout the rest of the trip, and one of them even ended up being the chief of police in Valencia, kind of a big deal around there!

Saw this more than once..not in Kansas anymore.
They warned me not to go to O'Cebreiro, the town we were headed to for the night because it was already full, as in, we would be like Joseph and Mary and there would be no room in the inn. "Whatever," I thought to myself, "they haven't gone there, how do they know?" Well I came to find out that sometimes, it's real easy to just know what's going on, especially when you're trying to get room for 14 people in a town with one albergue during the busiest Camino season of the year. They were right, and by the time we all got there, we were 60th in line on the wait list and we had to figure out where to go to actually find beds. Joe pushed me to use any skills I had with the language and work my magic with a lady behind a bar to get some numbers for any hostels nearby. She, an angel of a woman, helped us much more than we deserved, and thanks to her she hooked us up with Albergue Santa Maria in Alto do Poio, a very small town six miles down the road.

Joe and I made the executive decision to book 14 beds there and then had to figure out how to get from point A (O'Cebreiro) to point B (shower, clean laundry, bed 6 miles away). Everything ended up working out great and once again, the Lord provided exactly what we needed! Above is a "video journal" of me, right after meeting those Spaniards at lunchtime. And in case you're wondering, the majority of us took a taxi to the hostel, and some walked the six miles, hiking a marathon in one day, through the mountains of Spain nonetheless. Now that is noteworthy.
Just an average a.m. walk. Not bad, I'd say.
More stories to come! There were a lot of moments of grace and clarity along the way, and I'm still trying to figure out the best way to share them with you. Until then, enjoy a few bearable jokes, dorky videos and Christine's pictures, because apparently I like all of hers better than my own. Hasta luego!
Christine, a New Jersey photographer extraordinaire.

1 comment:

  1. Love the "walking alone" video... "Samuel...hikes like a beast!" Legit laughed out loud! You are the best :)