While thou art pouring forth thy soul
In such an ecstasy
It was a superb meal last night at the Association Gastronomica at only €10 for the pilgrim's menu. A fine Rioja with a four-course meal: an asparagus dish for starters, a wonderful vegetable soup, and then pork and apple for the main course, and a crème brûlé for désert. And then a selection of liqueurs.
At the table with me were a Dutch couple, Jac and Nelleka, with whom I've eaten before. He is a fine artist and compulsive sketcher. He usually adorns the guest books at the hostels wth his drawings. Tonight for the chef he conjured up a wonderful sketch of Notre Dame Cathedral and adjacent buildings. As Nelleka aid, "You are both artists."
After a nice breakfast at the Bar Palacio, I followed my shadow towards the now not-so-distant mountains. Various local people have told us that there are wolves in this area, and this morning as I walked along the path between dead grass and broom I'm sure I came upon their scat.
And once again I heard the glorious trilling of the larks. This was the sound that Juliet heard when she knew it was time for Romeo to move on, never to be seen alive again. And Keats' line surely applies to the lark as well as the nightingale.
I was thinking again about the predicament of women in the nineteenth century and later, and how it was incumbent on them to marry. I doubt if there's any character in literature who better represents this predicament than Charlotte Lucas who marries Mr. Collins to avoid being a burden on her family.
And yet she made the best of a bad lot, choosing a room for herself as far away from her husband as possible, and encouraging him to clump about in the garden and visit Lady Catherine as often as possible, while she made a life for herself with her books and probably her music and painting, and her visits to the poor in the parish. I can Imagine her being genuinely compassionate while her husband is pompous and preachy.
What wonderful characters are to be found in the novel: the unctuous Mr.Collins, the transparent Lydia and Kitty, the supercilious Miss Bingley, she too, desperate not to become an old maid, the shallow Mrs.Bennet, and the married-in-haste-repenting-at-leisure Mr. Bennet. Some of these characters appeared in later guises: Mr Bennet as Lionel Hardcastle, Mrs. Bennet as Mrs. Bucket, for example.
I visited the church at Mombuey with its unusual tower. Someone was eager to show me a chapel which must have contained statues of all the saints in Christendom. It was Palm Sunday, and I think he wanted me to take a frond to Santiago.
I passed through a couple of pueblos, the only signs of life being an older couple shuffling slowly towards me, she with an elderly dog on one arm and her husband on the other, and then an even older man hobbling slowly with a stick to the end of the village and back, taking most of the afternoon to do his daily constitutional. These people were as old as the stones. Each tiny village had a church at each end, perhaps so you couldn't escape Sunday mass.
I am staying at a little six-bed albergue attached to the sports centre at Asturianos.