“I’ll never forget today, I don’t think,” exhaled Tessa as she slumped onto the bunk.
Liz and Kent, our angels
Digger, another angelThe storks were the highlight of the day. After wandering around the empty streets in the early morning we sat down to watch. We were mesmerized. A baby was trying to gather courage to jump off the nest. A couple of parents were in nest-building mode and there was a bit of a squabble when one stole sticks from another. They repeatedly flew off and returned with twigs, which they carefully arranged or dropped. Speaking of dropping….the kids now know why storks build their nests so high – they like to have a long drop!The bells in the cathedral started ringing. They rang and rang and rang for over 300 tolls! We ended up going in and staying for the service that was just beginning. Organ music and chanting filled the Byzantine dome – fabulous! Next stop, the castle. This really is such an amazing place.
All day there was an undercurrent of dis-enthusiasm.
The mother thought it was a great idea that we would be spending the night at the Homeless Shelter. No-one else agreed.
We knew we had some food, but not enough for the whole day. Would any food places be open? Enthusiasm abounded a few hours after we left the albergue when we discovered there were actually plenty of food options.
Our main issue, was not knowing where we would end up. Our Plan B was to walk on to the next village seven kilometers away if we couldn’t get into the shelter. If we were to do that we would need to take food for a couple of days. So we bought lots of bread! Just in case (we already had cheese and salami from the supermarket yesterday).
Plan B (which the kids favored even if it meant eating bread for two days) hit a snag. When I tried to get money out of the ATM it would not co-operate. Nor would the second one from a different bank – or third or fourth. And not three hours later either. So leaving town became a non-option.
Kids started making other suggestions. We even went into one cheap-looking family-run hostel and handed money over for two rooms. But I had a really bad feeling about the place and asked for my money back and we scarpered. When we got outside Ella-Rose said, “I didn’t like that place, I’m glad we’re not staying.” I can’t say what was wrong with it, but I listen to that small warning voice in my head.
We went back to the albergue to pick up our packs which we had left there for the day and walked away dejected. I think the kids had hoped the hospitaleros would welcome us with open arms. But they couldn’t and I understood that.
We sat down in a plaza under some beautiful trees next to the Parador Hotel. You will not find a more swish hotel in Spain! There were jokes about staying there. The next thing I knew, Micaiah was donning his pack and marching towards the front door. He returned with the news that we could have a double room for 176 euros and they would throw in two extra beds for free. And taxi service. And breakfast.
We went to the ethnographic museum instead. Distraction is a wonderful tool.When we were finished looking at straw buildings and funerary carts and clay pots and embroidered clothing and festive costumes, someone said, “Now what?”
We went to the shelter. It was shut. So we went to the police station (evidently they are in charge) and asked when it would open.
One officer listened to our sob story (a little speech specially prepared in Spanish all about blisters!) and collected the keys from a drawer and appeared to be about to take us directly there. The second officer refused. He insisted we could not go. He told us all about the pilgrim albergue and we explained it was not possible for us to stay there two nights. So he got on the phone. “This is the Zamora Municipal Police. I have a family here. Do you remember them? A mother and four children from New Zealand. They need somewhere to stay. They need to stay at your place again. They cannot stay at the homeless shelter.” And off he sent us – but not until I had checked three times that he understood the rules.
I crept into the albergue. Kent popped out of the office, full of welcome. Liz was still getting over the phone call from the police! While they did not register us, they welcomed us as warmly as yesterday, but with even more humor. Kent told me to tell the kids they would be locked up by the police of he let them stay (they were waiting up the road in case I had got the wrong end of the stick so as not to embarrass Kent and Liz). I went out to them, and explained solemnly, “The police have told Liz she will be locked up if they take us in because they are only allowed to give us one night.”
“Well we can’t stay here then,” Tessa insisted. With a small quaver in her voice, she asked, “So what will we do?” The others joined with such earnestness that I could not worry them for more than a minute, and they were most delighted and exasperated and relieved to discover it was a joke!
The kids were disappointed we hadn’t thought to ask for a stamp in their credentials from the police – so they went back and asked. They were well rewarded!
Dinner was bread and cheese and salami…..and leftover soup from last night! It was different without Digger, but we had a good time. New people, and an old one from a few days ago. More camaraderie.
Just like last night, suddenly it was five to ten. I shooed the kids off to bed and started to write this. It is now two hours later. British politics have been exhausted. The issue of homelessness has been thrashed. Everyone else went to bed, except a young Australian guy. It’s been a fascinating conversation – education, neural psychology, music, theatre, learning, parenting, memory……but now it’s time for bed.
Distance: 13.4km around town (less for Levi who often sat going nowhere nursing his blisters)