Monday, June 12, 2017

Day 33: Why did the dead rooster come to life?

Oct 19: It was good to be in a pilgrim hostel. Unlike yesterday, my neighbors in the hostel woke up early to hit the trail. They weren’t letting grass grow on their feet! I was on the trail and hiking by 8:30. Even better—no rain this morning! There were still lots of clouds that looked like rain, and a chance of rain was definitely in the forecast, but for the time being, the rain was on hold.

My first rest of the day came in Sao Pedro de Rates. I sat down at a table to rest my feet and eat a few snacks when a long, skinny fellow limped up and introduced himself as a Polish pilgrim. “Dzień dobry!” I told him, proud to show off my Polish. =)

He was taking a day off in town and had seen me sitting there and thought I looked like a pilgrim. “Indeed, you are correct!” I answered. He had a huge scar across his forehead—which looked like it was still healing and gave him a somewhat scary appearance.

The story he told was among the most exciting I had heard. He started his pilgrimage from Saint Jean Pied de Port and covered the Camino Frances to Santiago. Along the way, he happened into a town that was having a running of the bulls (not Pamplona, but I have long since forgotten the name of the town he said this happened) and he decided to participate. He wasn’t very good at it, however, and was gored by a bull—the cause of his major head laceration that had to be stitched together like Frankenstein.

“And you kept hiking?” I asked him. “You didn’t think… maybe you should get off the trail for a few weeks and recuperate?” I wasn’t being judgmental—I was just curious. He looked like a pretty serious injury and I’d have imagined most people might have thrown in the towel with a disaster like that.

Well, he might have taken a couple of days off—I’m not sure—but he decided to keep going. After reaching Santiago, he decided to keep walking all the way to Lisbon. He had suffered a foot or leg injury (I wasn’t entirely sure which) the day before and was taking the day off to rest.

His story was so crazy, I suspected he might have been making it up. For all I knew, he tripped and hit his head, which caused the large scar on his forehead. It was a legitimately impressive scar, but I got the sense he was leading up to some sort of sob story in the hopes I’d give him money. If that was his plan, he failed miserably because he never did ask for any money. He seemed like an interesting character, but at the same time, he made me a little nervous. Something about the guy—and I still can’t pinpoint exactly what it was—gave me a bad feeling and I just wanted to get away from him. After chatting for about five minutes, he wandered off.

I decided that was a good time to leave myself. I didn’t really want to be around if he decided to come around again.

I stopped for lunch at a cafe in Antonio. The trail wasn’t crowded with pilgrims, but there were out here. Five of them were in the same cafe eating the pilgrim menu. I passed on the pilgrim menu settling for a boring sandwich, pastry and a Coke.

Out of Antonio, the main trail followed a busy road out of town so I veered off onto a slightly longer alternate route which headed uphill and into the woods—a pleasant walk that none of the other pilgrims decided to do. It baffled me. Why would they prefer to walk on that busy, noisy road when they had this option available? Just because this route was about 1 kilometer longer? At worst, it added maybe 15 minutes to my day’s walk. An hour of miserable walking, or an hour and 15 minutes of pleasant walking? Invariably, almost everyone seems to always choose the hour of miserable walking.

Late in the day, I headed into the bustling little town of Barcelos—the rooster city. There were several giant rooster statues throughout the town, and you’d see images of the roosters everywhere. It’s based on an old pilgrim legend, which I’ll quote from my guidebook:

“The Barcelos cockerel is based on the same story that we may have heard in Santo Domingo de Calzada on the Camino Frances. The cross in the Paco dos Condes portrays the miraculous story of the roasted cock that rose from the table of the judge who had wrongly condemned a pilgrim to Santiago to hang from the nearby gallows (located south of the river). The pilgrim had proclaimed his innocence and stated that if he were wrongly condemned to hang then a dead dock would rise from the judge’s table in proof of his righteousness. The innocent lad was hanged and sure enough a roasted cock stood up on the judge’s plate as he sat for dinner that night. The bewildered judge hurried from his table to find the pilgrim alive on the gallows—saved by the miraculous intervention of St. James and the Barcelos cockerel!” [My note: The tune to Teenage Mutant Kung-fu Chickens jumps into my head at this last line.)

The story always bothered me a little. If I were that innocent pilgrim, I’d have preferred the dead rooster come to life before they tried to hang me. Additionally, the story feels unoriginal. It sounds to me like they took the story of Jesus and reworked it so Jesus was a rooster—which seems a bit sacrilegious.

But I thoroughly approved of the giant roosters everywhere. There are a lot of good jokes one could tell about giant cocks in the town. =)

Anyhow… they had many interesting giant statues besides the roosters, but the roosters were the ones most connected to the Camino. The others seemed more-or-less random.

I checked into a hostel where I had trouble taking a shower. I had lathered up and was washing my hair when the power suddenly went out and the room pitched into total blackness. I kept washing my hair and wondered if it would come back on soon, trying to remember exactly where my towel (and clothes) were located. I could probably find my way out in the dark if I had to, but it would certainly be more difficult.

I finished washing the soap off me then stepped out of the shower at which point the lights promptly turned on again and I realized that they were motion activated lights! The power hadn’t gone out—the room just thought it was empty when I was in the shower and turned the lights off automatically! *rolling eyes*

I got dressed and returned to my room where I met a Spanish guy who was sharing the room with me. The hostel had perhaps a dozen pilgrims spread across several rooms, but the Spanish guy was the only one in my room. He didn’t speak any English at all, but he was perfectly happy to converse with me in my broken Spanish and we spent about a half hour chatting away in Spanish which I had a lot of fun doing.

And that was about it. I went out to get dinner and do some grocery shopping before heading back to the hostel and calling it a night.
Chestnuts on the trail

I just love these old medieval bridges! They have so much character! =)

Not sure why they call this town Sao Pedro de Rates--I didn't see a single rat the entire time I was here!

Well, hello, little buddy! =)

I know it's little, but I just love the little colored laundry clips! =)

Neat little planters! What a great idea for reusing plastic bottles!

Streets of Barcelos

Giant roosters! Everywhere! How can you love not love a town that puts up giant roosters everywhere?! =)

Hey! We can put our head in the rooster!

They do have statues of things other than roosters. =)
Baby chicklets! Now we know where all the roosters came from! =)

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