Our hotel is on the freeway. There’s stuff in walking distance but it’s all a bit dodgy. Ritter’s Frozen Custard. Hacienda, a Mexican eaterie that has just squeaked over 1 star on TripAdvisor. And Maria’s. Where I’ve gone for my lunch. Love Shack on the radio. American football on the screen. The dinging of the microwave audible from the kitchen. Special lunch deals for seniors, who make up the entire clientele.
I did this yesterday as well. It’s the cheapest place around – with reason. Yesterday I had “meat pasta”. The meat was tomato. Literally.
Today I’m having pasta again. Chicken Alfredo. There’s broccoli in it too which is an actual vegetable, although I had to pay extra for it. Mostly it’s water. Like everything here it comes with bread. Call it fuel for the show. I’m still expending absolutely tons of energy every night on stage, so pre-show carbs are helpful. I’ve almost certainly lost weight through energy spamming despite poor diet and unusual hours. (I call this lunch, but it’s ten to five.)
It’s a grey afternoon, moving to dusk. I’m poking around my food, watching the cars fly by on the interstate. Contemplating this week, this job, this life.
A year ago today I was two thirds of the way to Santiago da Compostela, just out of the hardest part – the soul searching and the meseta. Thinking I was going to die on a stone floor in a freezing convent in Carrion. Chased by the devil, talking to my blisters.
I was still challenging my body at that point, but had already overcome a great deal. It was about to get easier and more companionable as I started forming a group of friends on the path, and actively breaking my previously intentional solitude.
Now I’m coming to the end of this beautiful strange varied job, which would have been infinitely harder internally without the peace I found on the path. Perhaps it’s no surprise I’ve come to this rotten place for food twice. The quality of the fayre approximates that of the Pilgrim menus in the albergues I stopped at en-route. Although there’s no free wine. Which is sad but just as well considering we’ve got a show tonight.
Grace College has been a surprisingly pleasant stop. We needed it. The staff and the students are united in thoughtfulness and kindness – in grace, I guess. Natch. The lack of things to do allows for rest when we aren’t working. Sure we would like to see the local area, but it’s not like we’ll miss out on The Alamo, or the redwoods or Boston if I take the afternoon in a café by the interstate and think about the past.
Apparently there’s an Amish community nearby. You have to pay $15 to get into the compound. It sounds a bit like a human safari, and I’ve got mixed feelings about it. But I reckon that’ll be my Sunday nonetheless. That and packing.
Going back over that walk last year as I have been it strikes me that it was better for me than I noticed at the time. I rolled straight into Christmas Carol and then Vault Festival and didn’t give myself time to breathe. This week has been a breath. Much needed. Most welcome.
Last year, Camino heading to Pieros and one of my favourite hostels on the path, crystallising my reasons for walking: https://albarclay.blog/2018/11/02/day-33-camino-molinaseca-to-pieros/