a wandering woman writes

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Just walk east

Ermita de Santa Ágata, Arrés

As you've read by now, I just spent 17 days volunteering as a hospitalera in the pilgrim's albergue in Arrés, a town of 15 inhabitants lying along the Aragonese stretch of the Camino de Santiago.

With Ferran, my charming Tarragonese partner, I welcomed pilgrims stopping for a warm word and a cold glass of homemade lemonade (or gazpacho, on the right days) on their way to the next albergue, and then did my best to create a temporary but memorable home for those pilgrims who chose to spend the night with us.

Our days began at 7, with breakfast service, then moved on to the daily sweeping-scrubbing-mopping workout, invariably accompanied by some fabulous soundtrack or another screaming out of Ferran's boombox. After a shopping trip to Jaca, we shifted to warm of-course-we-have-a-place-for-you-to-sleep welcomes, multilingual conversations, a tour of the town's lovely 16th century church and the nightly gigglefest of shared kitchen duty and community dinner. Barring rain, every day ended with a walk to the mirador high above the casa rural to watch Arres' stunning sunset.

I am proud to announce I now speak Pilgrim's Italian and make one hell of a tasty garbanzo bean, spinach and chorizo potaje for 30.

My biggest challenge, however, was neither language nor gastronomy. Seventeen days surrounded by humans was a significant shock to this wanderer's solitary soul. In Arrés I existed to welcome people, to offer an understanding ear, a hot meal and good company. I shared a small bedroom, for God's sake.

And so just about every one of those seventeen days, I stole a few moments to meander down the narrow lane leading east to the town's ermita, alone, gathering fresh flowers for the table while I soaked in the view, and exhaled.

I'll write more about my experience, but first let me make a shameless plug for Arrés. The town is growing, and now boasts a lovely casa rural, where Mari Luz will cook you up some of tastiest homemade meals you'll enjoy in Spain.

And when it all gets too much, I'm telling you. Just walk east.


  • A post that was devoured.

    By Blogger Di Mackey, at 7:21 PM  

  • I'm with Di. Absolutely stunning pic, too!

    By Anonymous Laura Young, at 4:17 PM  

  • You amaze me in many ways; no less so today. Thanks for a lovely post and a truly gorgeous photo.
    fondly, K

    By Anonymous Kate, at 6:41 PM  

  • I was pleased to find a new post from you when I checked today. Your experience sounds so lovely, and it brings me peace just to read it. Thank you.

    By Blogger Laura, at 7:08 PM  

  • I just found your blog from your profile at the Kiva website. Love it. I've bookmarked it.


    By Blogger Lynne, at 2:21 PM  

  • This delightful post and perfect photo refreshed me in many ways. Thank you for your wanderer's spirit and appreciative eyes that take your readers with you along the journey.

    By Blogger Lydia, at 9:01 AM  

  • You are to Blogs, Erin, as Karlos Arguiñano is to Spanish TV - a breath of fresh air.
    And after just finishing "The Rape of Nanking" by Iris Chang ( what a shocking book that is), reading that Torrevieja ( a town my father loved) is now the most dangerous place in Spain and finding out that at last the war in Irag has been won(sic) with the granting of 75% of Iraqi oil to Western companies; you have to ask yourself, "where can we turn to raise our dejected spirits".
    And the answer that we search for is simple, to Wandering Woman and her exploits and photos of course.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:23 PM  

  • me again...Wednesdays are old postcard day at my blog and I will publish an old postcard featuring Barcelona on July 9. As I did some research online I fell in love with the city!

    By Blogger Lydia, at 8:27 AM  

  • Just a thought: http://www.linkexpats.com (social networking website for expatriates) might be interesting for you and your readers..

    You might want to add it to your links page as well.
    good luck

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:00 AM  

  • any news? how are things?

    By OpenID guerson, at 4:59 AM  

  • I love your blog! The photos are great also! http://witches-corner.blogspot.com

    By Blogger All About Witchcraft and Spells, at 8:32 AM  

  • Siete Cajas del Archivo de Salamanca, Calle El Expolio número, 2, han partido hacia Barcelona

    By Blogger filomeno2006, at 11:56 AM  

  • I'm just learning how to blog as a result of planning and taking a 3 week trip to Ireland.
    Somehow I got linked to your blog. An excellent example. Thank you.

    By Blogger Ramblin' Rose, at 3:35 AM  

  • can you share your potajes recipe with us...pretty please?

    By Anonymous junknira, at 9:52 AM  

  • i like your writing. plz feel free to visit my blog

    By Blogger Jlascanteen, at 5:59 PM  

  • Where are you? I hope you are ok. I miss your posts.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:41 AM  

  • where are you wandering woman?

    By Anonymous bigskymind, at 11:20 PM  

  • ¿dónde estás? te echamos de menos!!! : (

    -Tus lectores

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:25 AM  

  • indeed, where are you??

    By OpenID guerson, at 5:08 PM  

  • Where are you Erin?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:35 PM  

  • I spent a night of my honeymoon here! I met my Spanish husband on the Camino and we did El camino Aragones to celebrate our marriage. Such great memories....


    By Blogger Canadiagaditana, at 11:10 PM  

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