Everything about this day in the little town of Estella was nice.
I woke at about 8 a.m. and found the hospitaleria sending people on their way and talking to her friend, who was taking her child to school. I asked where the washing machine was and her friend excitedly began to talk to me. She ran a laundry and would be happy to do my laundry for me. I thought about the pile of muddy, dirty clothes on the floor and realized that if she charged me $100, it would still be worth it, and soon had one less thing to worry about.
I found the post office and mailed some items home which I found were not needed – rain pants, a plate, a hiking skirt, some cord.
I found a place to get a SIM card for my phone. I found a cash machine.
I returned to yesterday’s cafe and had a morning cup of coffee and a croissant.
I am noticing subtle (and not so subtle) differences between my North American life and this wonderful European lifestyle. Even the tiniest, medieval, cobblestoned town has a public library with wi-fi for the students. The library in Estrella is quiet, tranquil, and well planned.
On the way to the library, I had to go through a narrow street where an ambulance was blocking traffic because someone needed help. I stood and watched for a while, observing how the local services handled an emergency (quite well, by the way).
After a few minutes, I observed something more.
The street was narrow, as I said before, and people were shopping, pushing strollers, moving to work, etc. Many simply walked around the ambulance and the EMT’s allowed people to move as needed. They did not block the sidewalk or try to keep people out of their way.
Of course, people did keep out of their way. People understood and felt sympathy. Many pedestrians did stand around and watch the scene. But those who were watching were talking to each other.
No one pulled out a cell phone and took pictures.
This struck me as different. I think people in the U.S. would transport their friends to the scene through the magic of technology. And they probably would not talk to other observers.
Here, no one was taking photos or videos. But all who were talking were talking to their neighbor.
I popped into a free art exhibit in the old castle. My laundry was returned clean, fresh, and folded (sadly, this condition would last exactly one day).
I had a “pilgrim menu” of green vegetables which had had the h*ll cooked out of them until they resembled soup more than fresh vegs, a delicious half of a roasted chicken, french fries (standard for pilgrim menus), some dessert, and an entire bottle of wine for myself. I asked the waiter if I could take the rest of the bottle back to my hotel and, with a bit of reluctance but then giving in, he said O.K.
It had been a good day. I only hoped I could figure out how to manage my blisters because I was sure the next day would be another rainy one.