Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Monday, 2 May 2011

Day 31. Somport to Jaca (30.9 kms)

1 May, 2011

We spent the night in a dungeon of a dormitory. It was uneventful, but for a Spaniard suffering a serous attack of vertigo in the top bunk.

Getting to Jaka was hard yakka. I limped from town to town, fortifying myself with coffee at each stop.

I left the gite to follow the bright yellow arrows down the rocky path. Big dollops of yellow were splashed every few yards. They must have got a good deal on the paint.

To my surprise, the red and white balises reappeared as well. What were they doing there? Especially after deserting us yesterday. On the Camino Frances, the GR markings continue only to the border.

Sometimes the yellow arrows and the red and white balises wrestled for space on the rock. Who was running the show? Spanish or French? The Spanish, I hoped. They want to get you straight to heaven via Santiago, whereas the French like to get you off the straight and narrow.

We met a serious Camino freak at Castiello de Jaca. She had walked from England to Santiago in the eighties, and since then was walking them all backwards. She was heading for Arles. She talked rapidly, probably because everyone she met was going the other way, and she only had a few minutes to say what she had to say.

When we walked into Jaca at 6:30, who should we find at a bar by the cathedral, but Patrick and Jean Francois.

The best part of the day was the evening meal. On Patrick's recommendation, we went to a tapas bar, the best in town. Quite a small place with marvellous ambience. Only a few tables with people crowding around the bar.

We acquired a table. I think Patrick had charmed the server by speaking Occitan to her Catalan. He ordered.

We began with snails. We attacked these with toothpicks. Soon a huge pile of shells accumulated in the middle of the table, but not Anna Maria's - she was building a castle wall with hers.

Then some enormous breaded shrimp. And some calamari, I think, or some kind of squid, in heart-shaped pieces. Delicious.

And then the piece de resistance, a plate of crumbly tasty meat. If you can guess what this is," said Patrick. "I'll pay for the whole meal!" "Testicles," I guessed, thinking of the most outlandish possibility. Right," he said. "Riz de veau," the euphemistic term for calf's balls.

I didn't hold him to his promise. It was a memorable meal with memorable company!

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