A cock in a cathedral…

Day 9
Najera to Sata Domingo de la Calzada

If you want evidence of how hard the economic crisis has hit this country then you need look no further than the ghost village of Ciruena Area de Descanso.
It’s a new development of slightly upmarket family homes and flats
Except there are no families there. There’s no one there.
The communal swimming pool in the centre of this complex looks inviting enough Blue water surrounded by pristine green grass. But there’s no one using it.
It’s like one of those apocalyptic 70s movies where some deadly alien infection has killed all the inhabitants. Or turned them all into night-dwelling zombies
The only person I saw there was a bit zombified now I come to think of it
But so would you be if your job was to cut the grass and sweep the streets beneath the hundreds of “for sale” signs adorning all these homes built on the back of the property bubble.
Was it just coincidence that I was playing Show Of Hands’ song about greedy bankers as I entered the village?
I approached this hardy local as he trimmed the grass verge. His English was non existent but I understood him all too well when he said “Espagne” and made a flushing noise and hand movement like something going down the toilet.

So tonight I’m in this Alburgue run by nuns and described in my guidebook as “charming”

It is described by me a smelling faintly of cat urine and if I’m going to be attacked by the Caminos famous bed bugs then I reckon tonight is the night.

Today I reached Santo Dominigo de la Calzada. Saint Dominic of the Causeway

Named after an 11th century monk who tried to join two monasteries but was turned down because he couldn’t read
Now here’s a lesson for those struggling with their key stage 2 literacy tests

He only went on to be a saint and not just any old saint. Nope he is THE patron saint of builders, road makers and “technical public works engineers”. Ah bless. It’s nice they should have their own saint

And OAPs as well

Dom is the father of The Camino. He spent his life caring for pilgrims. Building paths and hospitals. So you can see why he’s popular in these parts
He’s also the reason Santo Domingo cathedral has a hen coop complete with hen and cockerel.

Centuries ago a German family of pilgrims were passing through and a local lass fell for the teenage son.

Having more elevated things on his mind he spurned her advances She then hid a silver cup in his baggage called the local fuzz and the boy was arrested, searched and hanged for theft

A harsh punishment you’ll agree. But it’s the only language they understand…

Anyway the boy’s parents moved on to Santiago. They took things in their stride in this days. I plagiarise from Tim Moore’s excellent book Spanish Steps Travels with my Donkey:

” I don’t know if you’ve looked out the window this morning Heidi but there’s a corpse swinging from the gallows that looks an awful lot like our Wolfgang..”

” let’s see , honestly why to they have to swing around like that?

“next time he swings round try and imagine him without that big purple tongue hanging out”

“you know what you’re absolutely right..”

So they head off to Santiago but on their return they stop at the gibbet and there’s Wolfgang alive and well. They go and visit the local mayor and ask him set their son free. He’s eating chicken. A cockerel and a hen

“your son is about as alive as this chicken I’m about to eat..”

At which point the allegedly deceased bird gets up and flies off. Difficult you’d have thought after being cooked

And that’s the reason why there’s a hen coop with real live cocks in the cathedral here. Cos they thought it was a Santo Domingo miracle

Time for beers

Song of the day : Sing a Powerful Song : Saw Doctors

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