Caldas peregrinos

Confession:  I did not have the opportunity today to try my new niceness with our friends from Minnesota.

I did, however, learn to ask more questions, as those same friends do often.

Today’s lessons:

1.  The horizontally trellised grape is called catalán rojo, and it makes a white wine, unless it is left to ferment, in which case it makes a rosé.  It appears this grape may be destined to homemade table wines, as it is considered one of the hybrid solutions to the Phylloxera plague in the late 1800s, where European vines were crossed with vines from the United States.  When the plague was eradicated (by replanting with US vines entirely), the hybrids were also banned, but the region of Galicia has steadfastly refused to pull up its hybrid vines.  And I still need to ask more questions, but at least I have the name right now!

2.  To the group of Spaniards who posed the difficult question of summarizing “typical US cuisine” in a sentence or two, I asked if they were a group of friends traveling together.  They sure did look like friends!  (“When you assume, you make an ASS – [of] U – [and] ME.”  Thank you again, Mr. Hutchinson.)  It turns out this group is a family, on vacation/pilgrimage:  the parents, their two children, and one boyfriend.  They look like friends, but they are a family.  That might just be cooler than getting bread delivered to your home every day!

3.  The LL Bean rain poncho that I bought, that also serves as a tent in a pinch, has the third and unadvertised usage as a parachute!  In case you might need one!  (Tether yourself to Earth if the wind picks up.)

Caldas puente

Other gems of Spanish wisdom from the Camino:

– When the tractor trailer hauling train rails for the federally funded project to bring the high-speed AVE train to Galicia holds up traffic, the cab driver comments:  “For that, there is money!”  Not for jobs, in a country with almost 30% unemployment.  Not for health benefits, in a country where major cutbacks have been made.  But yes, for a rail project that may never see completion, as has been the case in the region of Castilla La Mancha.

– When the topic is politicians, and it is understood that corruption is rampant:  “There’s not enough bread for so much chorizo.”  Double entendre – chorizo is a fantastic, paprika-laden sausage, but it is also a petty thief.  Not enough bread for so much sausage/thievery.

– While talking about politicians, again with the understanding that they are making their own pastures greener:  “One pulls the blanket more towards himself.”

– When asked why most fields have the grapes planted around the perimeter, the very simple response:  “Because if they were in the middle of the field, they would get in the way!”  Of course.  Thank you.

Today’s journey from Caldás de Reis to Padrón was mostly through forests and vineyards.  Agriculture and Roman roads and bridges.  It rained consistently for most of our 5 1/2 hours today, but it was usually a light rain, and in the wooded areas, we were protected by the trees.  Today’s stage was one of the prettiest yet.  The rain did not keep the Galician locals inside, either.  Instead, they were out walking, or in the fields working.

Tomorrow we may have heavier rain, some 40 liters of rain, per the Spanish pilgrims we met yesterday while dipping our toes in the hot springs in Caldás de Reis.  We are still trying to figure out just how 40 liters of rain might be measured.  Perhaps a question for tomorrow’s stage?

Tomorrow – Santiago de Compostela.  24 kilometers.  What a journey.

Caldas path

About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll To Top