By Robert Mullen
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Extra info for Call of the Camino: Myths, Legends and Pilgrim Stories on the Way to Santiago de Compostela
For the poor pilgrim a “bed” at an inn was a floor covered with straw which he shared with others. Innkeepers were forbidden to admit to their establishments any more pilgrims than they could accommodate, but who was to say, when the bed was the floor, just when that bed had been filled? An inn at which white wine was available displayed a bundle of straw above the door, one dispensing tinto put out a red flag. Pilgrims who were greeted effusively on the threshold of an inn with a sample of the innkeeper’s best wine, might nevertheless be served, once they had entered, with cider or vinegar.
Rita, the invalid, rolled over and turned her face to the wall. ” Lawrence wanted to know. ” The hospitalero, an elderly Spaniard who was charged with preparing a communal meal, appeared at a loss as to how to proceed. He had been told to expect half a dozen pilgrims, but at least thirty were by this time crowded into the tower. Angelika, having found him in the kitchen making a desultory inventory of just what foodstuffs were on hand, decided that she herself would need to organize the meal. ” she demanded.
Only by walking in the dark for an hour, by the light of a small torch, had he managed to complete the day’s walk as he had planned. In the notes which I made before going to sleep that night, I was drawn back to the notion of the Camino with its endless flow of pilgrims being like a river. Those whom the Camino favoured were more or less carried along by the current right from the beginning, whereas the lot of others, even those who might have been the better swimmers, was constantly to struggle.