So it has been a while since I last posted an update, but in between renovating an Abbey, doing a day trip to San Sebastian, discovering the phenomenon that is Spanish G&T’s and providing rugby lessons to an unsuspecting Pamplona local, it has been a busy two weeks.
Further to my last post, where I was having dismal luck in getting some proper rugby viewing organised, things have improved vastly on that front. I met a Pamplona local a couple of Sunday’s ago when he and his friend cycled past The Abbey. At the time he was (like every other Spaniard) blissfully unaware of the Rugby World Cup being underway, but a week later he had done some research, found us a very trendy bar with a Wales supporting owner and we watched the quarter final there. Apart from my new token Springbok supporter, I am still very much the only SA rugby girl in this town, but had great fun watching rugby the Spanish way. This included a few gins & tonics, which in Spain has become a bit of an art form. Think liquid nitrogen, cardamom, star anise and black peppercorn infusion and you have a rough idea. We also squeezed in a visit to a contemporary art exhibition earlier in the day so balanced culture and sport out quite nicely.
After the rugby I experienced Spain’s answer to a pub crawl. We went from bar to bar and sampled a different pintxo and small beer in each. Pintxos is the Basque word for tapas, and every bar has counters full of these displayed. And lots and lots and lots of ham (jamon). You really will have a hard time living in this country as a vegetarian… Last Saturday we also watched the rugby at the same pub and then carried on to a flamenco bar with dancers and live music. I loved it and decided that if all else fails I might come and take some flamenco lessons as a possible career change… I was struck by the fact that not a single one of the dancers had anything other than pitch black long hair, and I cannot help but wonder what will happen if a fair haired girl was to apply for a job. Is there a rule about the flamenco hair colour? Is it all coincidence? The mind boggles.
At The Abbey we have now seen far fewer pilgrims on a daily basis so most days we don’t tend to open the church for pilgrims to look in. This has freed us up to get on with some of the bigger tasks. This past week, I have painted the cemetery walls, dug a trench around it, and ripped up the wooden floorboards from the front of the church to allow the wet foundations to dry out. The crowbar is now on par with the wrecking bar as my favourite work tool. And as soon as I get back to London I will be selling tickets to the gun show, with discounted rates to my blog followers. J Seriously though, the physical work has been hard but so very refreshing and I enjoyed the instant results that are apparent when you start and finish a job in the same day. I am still seeing the mystery Walking Man daily, and he is even initiating the wave now. I have only two more days left at The Abbey though so will have to employ some serious bravery tomorrow or Friday to make sure I get to the bottom of the curious case of the walking man!
The previous mayor of the adjacent village has also started an unofficial game of “find the walnut” on a daily basis. He walks past on his daily stroll carrying a load of fresh walnuts. One day he simply launched them at me from the road with me frantically dodging the flying nuts and making sure I find them all. Nowadays he hides them in little secret places, ranging from the porch of The Abbey, to the windscreen wipers on Neill’s car. It’s quite sweet and very much like a daily Easter Egg Hunt, only it isn’t Easter and they are not eggs.
On Thursday when I was ripping out the floorboards in the church a French couple came walking in to the church with Neill showing them around. The lady signalled for me to come over and said: “come here, I want to talk to you”. Just like that. We proceeded to chat for a while and I commented on her interesting scarf-like fleece hat thing. Then on Sunday (when sadly I wasn’t around), she came all the way back to The Abbey. She bluntly asked Cath: “Where is Jacobie? This is for her” and left me a brand new scarf-like fleece hat thing which she bought and brought all the way back for me. How sweet? I am a little sad that I wasn’t there or don’t have her details to say thank you, because I am so touched by the fact that they came all the way back.
The reason I wasn’t at The Abbey on Sunday is that I treated myself to a day in San Sebastian, on the coast. It was a lovely sunny day, and I walked all along the lovely three beaches of San Sebastian, and ate more pintxos than can be considered normal.
This weekend I will cycle out to Alto de Perdon, about 20km from Pamplona on the Camino, with my new Spanish friend. I have also decided to finish off my time in Spain with a quick week’s walk along the Camino, which I will start next week, and then back to Pamplona for a weekend. I will spend three days or so in Madrid before going back to London. I cannot believe that nearly two months will have passed since I arrived. I am having an amazing time and wouldn’t mind figuring out a way to maybe head back this way in the future. I love the Spanish people, the Spanish way of life, the language and the weather. I am however not quite yet used to the fact that an early dinner means you eat before 21h30, which is my normal bed time, but I am sure with time I can come to terms with even that.