Thursday, April 7, 2005

Najera—Day 8

I am in a tiny mountaintop town—after hiking for several hours through luscious green fields and between great red cliffs. The sun shone, and I passed a church where they keep a cage of chickens in commemoration of a miracle that happened in the middle ages. The hostel where I am right now is part of an ancient Gothic church. There are no showers or beds (only mats), but it is the most incredible place I've encountered yet. There is a little wooden door in the stone wall by my head, which leads into the choir loft of the church. To reach the small sleeping room, you walk up a long winding stone stairway to reach it. Windows are cut into the walls with sills so thick that you can sit on them quite comfortably. The stone is worn from so many people passing there. I feel like I've been transported back in time. The people in the albergue cooked a huge spaghetti and salad supper for us—and while waiting, I explored the town and strummed on a guitar that was there. Everything was so cozy. We ate together, then went into the choir loft where all of us said prayers together in different languages. There was a big sleeping loft and fireplace (close unfortunately while repairs are going on). The two hospitaleros sent us off with a generous breakfast and kind words. The man said that "I always have friends there:" They did not give us a stamp on our pilgrim passport, yet nevertheless they will not be forgotten.

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