Vocabulary Lesson and Decisions

May 16-17, 2019

I woke with a sore throat, running sinuses, and a headache. A night of little sleep at the largest municipal albergue on the Camino made me wonder about our plans to save money and live the “real pilgrim experience”.

‘I will feel better once I begin walking,’ I optimistically comforted myself. A third beautiful sunshiny day gave me no choice but to enjoy our hike to the utmost.

Each kilometer brought unusual sights to enjoy. Here are a few from the day.

Church of San Nicolás de Bari in Burgette. Notice the trees, whose limbs are harvested each spring!

Watering trough in Espinal.


Concrete “stepping stones” led us across a tributary of the Erro River.

Much as I enjoyed our walk, by early afternoon I couldn’t ignore my tired body’s demand for rest. We entered the small town of Viscarret and began looking for a place to stay. With no municipal albergue available in this village, we were glad to see signs telling us to ask at the bar (cafe) for a pensión (privately run hostel).

When we wistfully asked the owner of Pensión El-La if she had any private rooms, she smiled. “You are in luck. I have one room with bed for two people.” She then led us up three flights of stairs to a charming chamber tucked under the eaves, with a lovely bucolic view.

View from the third story.

Once we had showered and rested, it was time for me to find the grocery store (supermercado).

At the opposite end of town, I bashfully opened the door and peered inside. An older woman sat at the counter beside the cash register.

“Hola,” I essayed.

“Abrir! Abrir!” Unsmiling, she gestured crypticly to me.

Startled, I stepped inside and closed the door.

“No! Abrir! Abrir!” Her hand gestures became larger and a bit frantic.

I stared, my hand on the door handle, wondering what to do!

The woman became more agitated, and the volume of her voice rose as she repeated, “Abrir! Abrir!” over and over. Finally she gave up, put her head in her hands and muttered “Aie! Peregrinos!” (Pilgrims!)

Just then a younger woman came from the back of the store. The older woman launched into a torrent of Spanish. The young woman smiled at me and gestured to the door handle, which I gripped in a nervous chokehold. Reassured by her smile, but still confused, I timidly opened the door. At that instant, a man with incredibly dirty hands mounted the steps and walked through the opened door. Comprehension dawned in my poor muddled brain! Not the easiest way to learn a new vocabulary word, but now I know that ‘Abrir!’ means ‘Open!’

Back at the Pensión El-La, Jay and I enjoyed visiting with other pilgrims in the common room while we ate groceries from the supermercado.

Comfortable chairs welcome pilgrims.

A storm, predicted for the next day, gave me and Jay food for thought.

“Pensión El-La is so comfortable. Maybe we should just stay here a day,” Jay suggested.

“I don’t know. We’ve only hiked three days so far. Still, maybe this sore throat would ease with an extra day of sleep.” I could feel myself giving into the idea of luxury.

“It looks like the rain will be the worst tomorrow, then perhaps ease off the following days. It makes sense to take a little time now, instead of pushing too hard and paying for it later.” Jay put a practical spin on our thoughts of delay.

“This is our first time in Europe together. You’ve said we shouldn’t rush. It’s important to be flexible and open to other ideas. But is it ok if we delay so much we don’t even make it to Santiago?” I wanted to be sure we were thinking the same about this adventure.

“Yes! We will not be destination driven! Let’s live in the present.” Jay confirmed my thoughts. We might not make it to Santiago before my next orthodontic appointment in Seattle, but we would enjoy each day.

The next day dawned to serious rain drumming on the roof, running off the eaves, soaking into the ground. I was delighted to have a day in the warm, dry hostel, nursing my sore throat and packed sinuses. In the late morning, the owner of the hostel kindly took me to a ‘farmacia’ (pharmacy) in a larger town. She also came inside to help me find a decongestant. Her help with translation was invaluable!

Back at the hostel, we happily watched the rain, falling in straight sheets of water. The owner also helped us make reservations for the next night, in the small town of Larrasoaña, just nine miles away. With the decongestant clearing my sinuses, I felt very hopeful about enjoying a wet hike tomorrow.

17 thoughts on “Vocabulary Lesson and Decisions

  1. What nice people you meet so far away. So glad you are taking time to enjoy the trip. God be with you always….john


  2. Sarah, Hope you get to feeling better soon. I don’t know if you have heard or not from Kathy. Linda Sekiguchi passed away a week ago last Tuesday and her service will be on Sunday, May 26th at 2 pm. Love, Martha

    Sent from my iPhone



  3. Hi, glad to read about your civilized pace. Those kinds of surprise easy days have given me some of my best travel memories.

    If you guys are travelling with a smartphone, you can download Google Translate in one of your wifi moments. It will be available to you offline after that. I don’t know if it will be fast enough to open all doors, but it did work a few miracles for me in Turkey last fall. It goes beyond offering word translations; it talks! I had a complicated exchange with a Turkish cellphone guy, with me speaking into the phone, it translating out loud for him, him speaking back into my phone, and it translating out loud back to me. All he and I had to do, really, was enjoy the moment.

    If your congestion persists, I can offer you a cure from the Turkish faith healer living near my house last fall. It worked dramatically well on me while I was there – and quickly – and since then it’s worked for every curmudgeonly old guy I know here who got sick this winter.

    Buena suerte,


      1. Hi Sarah,
        Will send it to your gmail acct so that you can file it where you can find it again, and get access to it when youwant to be cured in a hurry. (It also involves about 4 hours of daytime rest, and a restful overnight sleep, but if you’re like the three old guys it cured in my neighbourhood this last winter, by the time you’re sick enough to remember you have a cure at hand, you won’t feel like doing anything but resting anyway ;))


  4. Ah this makes me relax just reading it!  I am about to go on a week long trip to Iowa for the International Tuba Euphonium Conference.  Will be a non stop trip of information gathering and tuba music.  I am looking forward to it, but will need to remind myself to stop and smell the roses every now and then!!! Thanks Sarah!!!  Love you all!!! David


    1. Yes, rose smelling should be high on every traveler’s list. Actually, I believe it would be good to include rose smelling into class curriculums!
      Yesterday I smelled at least ten rose bushes. 🙂


  5. A little late to the party. I wrote a story with word ” eaves” today and it somehow made me drop by this article. Beautiful pictures. I learnt “abrir” and English pension is nothing like the word in Spanish used here. Thanks for the article.


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