Today we walked nowhere and instead spent the day preparing for the rest of our journey to Santiago. If we keep to our schedule, we will arrive there in 15 days – that is as long as Dave doesn’t try to fit himself into another four-foot bathtub again and cause another injury!
It has been very cold (4 degrees) in the mornings. Even when we wear all layers of clothing, we are still shivering. We will soon be climbing to higher altitudes where it will be even colder and where rain is predicted for the next week. So today we bought jackets that are warm and light. They can be strapped onto our backpacks if they are too bulky to fit inside.
This might be the last really nice place we lay our heads for the next 15 days, so we are taking time to savour it. And speaking of savouring things, we always look forward to those pilgrim meals at 7 p.m. For the “primero” course, there is usually a choice of soup, salad, or pasta. The “secondo” course has a pork, fish, chicken, and beef dish to choose from and inevitably they are served with French fries. The dessert choices are often ice cream, flan, and rice pudding. Almost always a bottle of wine or water comes with the meal, but once we were given both. White crusty bread is also served and we have learned to use the bread to thoroughly clean our plates. Not a scrap remains!
There are many representations of St. James in the Bishop’s Palace here in Astorga. He is usually depicted as a pilgrim but sometimes he is shown as the Moor-slayer – a knight in shining armour astride a white charger decapitating Moors with his sword. This is how the story goes: “A shepherd was drawn to a field by a bright light or star in the year 813AD. Thus we have the field (compos) of the stars (stella) of Saint James (Sant Iago), which gives us ‘Santiago de Compostela.’ A bishop seized the moment and ‘confirmed’ the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle and so the story of St. James was resurrected in perfect timing to spearhead the re-conquest of Spain for Christianity that went on from the battle of Clavijo in 844 until the decisive victory at Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. Each time St. James appeared at the crucial moment to turn the tide of battle. That is why we have the image of St. James as a Moor-slayer. On the strength of these successes, St. James became the patron saint of Spain, a position that he enjoys to this day.”