Tolerance

What we need is a great big melting pot
Big enough to take the world and all it’s got
And keep it stirring for a hundred years or more
And turn out coffee colored people by the score
Cook/Greenaway, Blue Mink, 1969

Camino Day 18, Viernes 25th Setiembre. 421 klms. Bercianos del Real Camino, León, Castile y León, España.

The lyrics above are from another of my favourite songs from my idealistic formative youth. They came to me today as I wandered along.

But first some background, and possibly a restate of something I’ve previously said. I start the day with no particular theme for my post in mind – I’ve come very quickly to recognise that one will appear. Maybe early, maybe late, but appear it will.

A couple of days ago Joyce Hawthorn, a woman we met at the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in Rajasthan, observed that my “musings were becoming more reflective as [I] go along the way”, to which I replied that I had “become aware of that, although it’s not been a conscious decision”.

So today’s reflectiveness has in part been triggered by Joyce, and then also by a particular event.

However back to the very beginning of the day. Last night’s accommodation at the Albergue del Morena was delightful. A superb peregrino dinner on the road out the front of the albergue and a lovely bottle of wine. We could easily have decided to stay for breakfast, but instead opted for an early start to what would turn out to be a ~30 klm day.

So we were up and on the road well before the sun, so much so that we initially went the wrong way in the dark, and for the first 30 mins or so we had to use my headlamp to confirm what we thought we were seeing in the predawn light.

Our plan had be to have breakfast at Terradillos de las Templarios, about 45 mins into the day, but the smallness of that village meant that absolutely nothing was open at that good hour. So we pressed on to Moratinos we were found an excellent breakfast place. Here was the view along the way.
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Not long after that we discovered some traditional bodegas. I had thought that a Bodega was simply a generic name for a Spanish winery, but not so. These bodegas are traditional family owned (and constructed) food storage and wine making facilities, dating back some 500 years. Most are not used for the traditional purposes these days – rather they are either abandoned, used solely for storage; or used as social gathering venues.
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Later we saw a sunflower harvester having a rest (we’d spent some days looking at the sad dying sunflowers, wondering if and if so how they were harvested, and this answered that question), explored a little of Sahagún and eventually made our way tonight’s lodging.

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The town of Sahagún (pronounced, I think, “saahoon”) is quite a sizable place. We wandered along the “cultural” route into town, had coffee in the Plaza Mayor, bought some excellent homemade biscuits from a tienda just around the corner, and then left via the Puente Romano over the Rio Cea. The “froggy” couple (see my rant below) were just ahead of us!

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And then there was the little village of Calzada del Coto. It’s about 4 klms out of Sahagún, and a diversion of about 1 klm (each way) off our track (which was why today turned into a ~30 klm day). We dropped into this funny little town to have a coffee, and with a bit of a challenge tracked down the only café/bar. It’s off the main drag, marked only with painted signs on the road, the one of which we saw actually being “rar”, which wasn’t quite an obvious pointer. But when we found it the coffee was good. What was unusual about this town was their version of the “topiary”. The trees in town are pruned and then encouraged to grow together to form a single entity. The photo below may give some idea.

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And just for fun as we walked into Bergianos del Real Camino one of my highlights was seeing what I took to be a Renfe VFT. Whether it is a VFT or not I don’t know, but it certainly was going very fast.

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Add we entered the town of Bergianos I was reminded that the Camino is not without its risks. MostIy not from any external malfeasance; sometimes people may just not be prepared for the rigours. I’ve seen quite a lot of these.

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And finally for birthday girl, Alice from Hamburg. There’s a story which I’ll tell another day.

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And now for today’s musings (which may be rantings). Most people I have met have been wonderful, and I’ll write a lot more about that later.

But I’ve seen some behaviours which have got under my skin, and have pushed my limits of tolerance. I’ve thought a lot about this, not just in my Camino times, but more widely then that. My intolerance is never (I can honestly say “never”) based on stereotypes, but on behaviours. So, for example, I don’t care about your race, skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, etc, but I do care about some of the behavioural choices you make. I get seriously annoyed by thoughtless choices.

So I’ve found myself annoyed by tourist groups who arrive by bus, and walk a few kilometres, and make a lot of collective noise, and then hop back on the bus to repeat the performance elsewhere.

I have found myself annoyed by the inconsiderate disregard in which clearly some peregrinos hold the Camino. It seems to be, at times, no more than an extended toilet.

But for the coup d’etat. Now generally I don’t generalise (he he). In fact I dislike and dissuade generalisations. That said, we had an incident today which played completely to the stereotypes. A French couple were ahead of us. They had stopped, and were talking to a US couple. As we approached they all set off ahead of us, effectively blocking or path play – they could have waited for us to pass, but chose not to. A little while later he decided that he needed to relieve himself. We were at that stage maybe 5 metres behind him. Did he wait for us, particularly Janet, to pass? Nope. His needs were clearly greater than a 5 second delay. Was I pissed off, to play to all sorts of linguistic similes? You bet.

But this is really about my own intolerances. If individuals make choices which are out of line with my standards, well so be it. But don’t expect me not to be annoyed if your choices are insensitive or not thoughtful. A lesson from the Camino???

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