Aislinn, my daughter has asked quite a few questions, so I am going to answer them today.
First, let me introduce my co-hospitalero. Dave Arthur lives near Bilbao, Spain with his Spanish wife of 28 years. He is British, but has worked all over the world, and speaks wonderful Spanish, passable French, some German and some Italian. He also has worked here several times, and is the premises coordinator for Gaucelmo, so he can fix most things, and knows how everything operates, so he is wonderful to work with. Plus, he is always upbeat, and great at moving people with humour. I am very lucky to be working with him. To top it all off, he drove here, so we have the use of his car - thus, the trip to Astorga yesterday.
I am now awakening naturally at about 5;45, and Dave´s alarm goes off at 6, so I jump out of bed, brush my teeth and wash my face, and try to beat Dave downstairs to turn on the lights, open the big door so pilgrims can leave, make the tea, coffee, hot milk, and cut the bread.
Compline is in the church which is about 30 meters away across the small plaza. It is from about 9.30 to 9.45. I am usually in bed by 10, leaving Dave to lock up and turn out the lights, which he does as soon as everyone is in his or her bunk. I am now sleeping through the night . Yeah!
To my knowledge, we are the only albergue which serves tea, and I guess that is because we are run by the British Confraternity of St James. Some albergues serve dinner for a fee. Others do a communal dinner, and everyone contribues. In ours, individual pilgrims will decide to cook, and sometimes will invite others, or cook together. Not all the albergues have kitchens. It is usually mentioned in the guidebooks. But I usually go out for dinner, just to get a break from always being on duty. Last night a couple asked us to share their dinner, and Dave did, but I didn´t.
Tortillas; In Spain, that means potatoes and onions cooked in a fry pan, then more olive oil is added and eggs. It cooks on the top of the stove, and usually is slid out onto a plate and returned to the pan so the top cooks that way. It is available at every bar here, sometimes sitting on the top of the bar. It is not usually part of the pilgrim menu, as it is so widely available the rest of the day. The ones that the German´s made the other night were full of other vegetables: onions, carrots, tinned corn and peas and mushrooms, and some herbs from the garden, and they were about 1.5 inches thich. They are quite substantial and filling.
Re groups: I had already signed in the first Taiwanese, so we couldn´t very well turn them away, and, as I said, they were great, and participated fully. The Spaniards were 2 couples travelling together, and expecting a daughter to join them by bus, so we saved her a space. That is how we ended up with 2 ¨groups¨ in spite of the general rule to keep groups to 4.
We had our first encounter with a bedbug problem yesterday. A young German woman said she had had a case 5 days ago, and had washed all her clothing 3 times, so we gave her a separate bedroom with her friend, treated her empty backpack with a spray, and enclosed it in a garbage bag, and welcomed her. Another pilgrim thanked me in private for welcoming that young woman, as she had felt shamed elsewhere. Let´s see how I feel if I see someone with bleeding sores. Hers were already dry and healing. Hope this isn´t too much info for you readers.
I made my Canadian version of oatmeal scones yesterday, with no substitutions. The oven gas went out part way through and it took me about 10 minutes to notice that, but we relit the oven, covered them with foil, and they turned out perfectly. Maybe third time will be the charm. Today I am not going to push my luck - I´ll make oatmeal fudgies on the top of the stove.
So if you have any questions, ask away. It is such a pleasure to know that friends and relatives are reading.
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