Today we continued to walk through the La Rioja region of Spain – vineyards as far as the eye can see. I even managed to have some red wine from the region with my lunch today.
One area we travelled through was especially fascinating. Back before the recession of 2008, Spaniards were as crazy about building housing as we were. Golf courses, homes and vacation areas were built “on spec,” in the hope that people would buy these properties at high prices and that the builders would make a good profit. As you might guess, in many places that never happened. We walked through a kind of ghost city today, called Cirueña. The town was designed for 10,000 people but today there are only a bit more than 100 residents. Lots of condo type buildings are totally complete yet empty. The area is still home to an 18 hole golf course. Sadly, the whole complex stands as a witness to a bygone era and hopes that never materialized.
We continue to meet many fascinating people along the way. Today Lena and I walked about 40 minutes with two young women friends, one from New Zealand, the other from Australia. The one I talked to had just graduated university in anthropology. She is “between commitments” and is making the most of her time. After a bit of a fun trek through Europe with her Australian friend, she and her comrade are taking on the Camino. (After the Camino she is off to teach English in Vietnam with a government sponsored program.) She had wonderful observations about her experiences along the way through Spain. She called the Camino a “liminal,” in-between space, where people make discoveries about what is coming next for them in life. We also had some great conversations about our respective cultures, especially how the majority population in each country has treated its native peoples. I was somewhat surprised to see the many connections between the issues faced in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. So much to learn.
Ending up in Santo Domingo, we learned that there is a particular legend connected with this area. I will let you read about it here if you are interested. Suffice it to say that it has to do with unrequited love, hanging, hens and roosters, and a bit of a resurrection. What that means in the present is that in the beautiful cathedral in town, there is a kind of Gothic chicken coop. When you visit you will see that inside the cathedral there is an area that houses a hen and a rooster as witness to this miracle tale. One local made sure we knew that “they change out the rooster and hen every 15 days!”
Finally, because it makes me smile, here is a picture me eyeing our Spanish hot chocolate and churros. Enjoy!