Friday, 23 November 2007

The Reason Why

Old friends write every so often to ask me what I am doing in a village in Spain which does not even have a bar. It is because of The Camino. This is a route taken by pilgrims which traverses Spain from France and ends, either in Santiago de Compostela, or depending on one´s fancy, at Finisterra. Before Columbus, Finisterra was as its name describes, the very end of the earth. Our village, Moratinos, is right on the Camino Fran├žais - just about half way along the roughly 500-mile trek.

To save me writing a lot of even more boring stuff than usual, you can go to the site above for statistics.
Several thousand pilgrims - pilgs, as we affectionately call them amble, march, stroll or, very frequently limp past either our back or front door each year. When we have a finished house, we will put up some of them.
We are especially fond of those with animals. The odd pilg will show up with a horse, or a donkey or a dog. We have only ever seen one with a goat. Many of the places pilgs normally stay in - known as Albergues or Refugios (same thing) are not keen, or anyway not equipped, to deal with the furries, so we will fill a niche.
The pilgrimage was originally at least, religious in nature, ending at what is claimed to be the tomb of St. James - Santiago. Nowadays, for a lot of people, it is no more than a nice long cheap walking or cycling vacation. The French seem to appreciate the cheap aspect more than most.
Nevertheless, the Camino numbers among its participants an unusually high percentage of maniacs. Many, naturally, are religious maniacs, some are Templar maniacs, others merely common-or-garden maniacs. The Templar maniacs are obsessed with the medieval knights of that ilk. They go in for much foolishness involving holy grails and big swords and tunics with big red crosses on the front. The Knights Templars had a lot to do with the Camino, acting as a sort of medieval Guardia Civil.
A mile or so East of Moratinos is the village of Terradillos de los Templarios. It became one of their hangouts. It seems that there was another village between there and Moratinos, called Villaoreja, which was run by a gang of monks who went crooked, robbing and killing the pilgs. Even six or seven hundred years ago this was thought to be going a bit far so the Templars moved to Terradillos and turfed out the tonsured tearaways. They did such a thorough job that only a stone marking the spot remains.
Nothing that interesting seems to be known about our village, except that the name indicates that it was once inhabited by Moors. They are not expected back any time soon, but the way things are going these days you never know.
The next village, about a mile and a half away, San Nicolas, is practically Las Vegas in comparison. It has not only an albergue with a bar, but a restaurant with a bar as well. Even more impressive, during the Camino´s middle-age heyday, they had a hospital reserved exclusively for pilgs with leprosy. Very chic.
So that is why we now live in Moratinos. I hope that explains it to you. It doesn´t to me, I must say. But, if you have any questions, just write.

1 comment:

Tom O'Gara said...

good to read your blog again keep it up when you can, Most entertainig.