Camino Diary Entry #19
The novel experience of Hosperderia Cisterciense.
(Santo Domingo dela Calzada).The door swung in on a sparsely furnished twin room. Narrow single beds were neatly draped in brocade quilts. The television looked so old we were surprised to find it really was a ‘colour tv’.There was one very small glass in the bathroom (thank goodness for tank size $2 shop plastic happy mugs).
‘Extras’ meant there was one thin soap – not good really since Gwyneth always seems to mutilate the soap on first go! The shower was one of the corner variety with doors curving round in a semi circle – just perfect for standing bolt upright so long as you don’t hope to shave your legs!I won’t even attempt to tell you about the ‘very odd’ assortment of coat hangers!
We sorted out the “where you can put your suitcase Katey,” routine, and then realized that in our state of surprise we had forgotten to ask all our standard arrival questions. Namely, what time is breakfast and where, what is available for dinner and do you have Internet?
Knowing we could not function further in ignorance of these things we ventured out of our room.
From further up the corridor an elderly, well dressed but unsmiling lady appeared and commenced her exercise routine up and around the maze.
We had noted a rooftop along from our room sporting a couple of plastic chairs. Given that the sun was now trying to break through we thought that worth checking out to enjoy a sip or two of red in the late afternoon. As we approached the rooftop doors, I commented to Gwyn, “Perhaps not, I think the gardener is working there.” On closer inspection, it was a little old man all bent up and stuck to the door/window trying to move his feet over the step. In view of the very Christian environment we were in,it would have been charitable for us to stop and offer assistance. However by now we were convulsed with hysteria and it would have in fact seemed very ‘unchristian’ had he been less pre-occupied and noticed us.
We got the required answers from no.1 Penguin and a whole lot more instruction we didn’t understand. The Internet code consisted of 23 random characters!
The rain set in again and we sat on our beds to wait for 9 pm dinner.
At 8.55 pm we presented downstairs heading to ‘el comedor’ where said bony finger had indicated we were to be fed. Well! There was to be ‘none of that heading in there before 9 pm!’ In no uncertain terms we were swept out of the entry and into the ‘salon’ where we joined an equally sheepish looking Italian couple. By the time the Dutch cyclists arrived after similar admonishment, we were all nearly beside ourselves with laughter.
We could spot a bit of ‘nunnery flunnery’ happening behind the doors as water and wine bottles were pitched at the tables. On the dot of 9 pm we were beckoned in.
Two late comers, known only as the ‘beer drinking boys’, (who speak little English and we know nothing about, nod at us and say hello, so that’s, good enough for us – more new best friends!), arrived at 2 minutes past the hour! They were ushered to a table in the middle of the reasonably vast dining room.
Two permanent residents (exercise lady and the little man who by now had managed to extricate himself from the rooftop doorway) clearly had their own regular seating. By now we realize we were right on all counts, it is probably a hospital, definitely a home for the elderly and they take a few pilgrim tourists to keep it all afloat!