We moved here to the farm a little more than a year ago. And we were welcomed by some of our neighbors. Others were more stand-offish. That was fine.
I find that most people are friendly enough. They wave when I wave. At least we got that far. Sometimes, people come here for one reason or another. To install a new sink, or to help clean out the barn. After that, when we see them in the grocery store in town we exchange pleasantries, a wave, a smile. Post-Covid, no mascarillas has been interesting. I saw our banker today at a cafe in town. She called out to me, but it took me a moment to recognize her. I had never seen her without a mask. We both laughed.
Other times, even with masks, people are getting more comfortable with engaging with me. Well, and perhaps it’s because I am more comfortable, as well. My Spanish is better. The business is helping. Having to speak to people, no matter what, for hours a day. And understanding the subtleties of accents. Finally, at long last, I am developing an ear for the language. And my fears of speaking are beginning to subside. I have little choice.
Today, I went to see my Dra. Waiting in the outer room, I had a conversation with some of those in that hot, sweaty corridor. I always laugh going to the Dra in Palas. When the doctor comes out and calls ‘Marie Carmen?’ and, all the women, except me, stand up. I’m pretty sure > 50% of women in the area are called Marie Carmen.
But something else has happened since we opened up, less than two weeks ago. It turns out, my fears of pissing off the other businesses who serve Pilgrims has, for the most part , been unfounded. We are a mete drop in the established bucket that is the Camino in our stretch on the Frances. And other neighbors have been coming out of the woodwork. Mostly friendly.
I’ve become known as the Smoothie Lady by all the kids in the area. Especially those who are just here at their families country houses for the summer. Coming from Lugo, Coruña, or Santiago. Some days, I feel I should change my name to Jamba Juice – that iconic smoothie franchise in the US. I go thru buckets of bananas, berries, and crushed ice every day. And some of the adults have come by for an afternoon ice cream. And a few rounds of beer.😉 Of course, they are curious about these odd Americans, with the strange business. Food trucks are thin on the ground in our little berg. We give things away for free, too. Strange.
One of our neighbors runs an herbal co-op down the road – right on the Camino. After beers, they invited me up to tour their property, and the fields of herbs they use to make their products. Lovely. And, we absolutely ❤️❤️❤️ their dog. A giant black furry mutt who greets us with unbridled affection whenever we walk up the road to the village.
I toured their industrial drying room and the chemistry lab where they craft their products. It smelled like heaven. Mint, lavender, rosemary. Enjoyed some yarrow and mint iced tea. Then, Carmela invited me to help her pick some herbs to take home.
But the highlight for me was seeing the giant beetle in the wheelbarrow. Amazing creature.
All of this leaves us feeling even more grounded in this place. As I was heading to the Dr at noon, a Pilgrim’s dog ran in through the gate. Sniffing around. We are closed today. I had some more important things to take care of. But, it was then I realized I had missed something, entirely.
On the way home from the Dra, I stopped off at our local farm store (I’ll write about this amazing place another time), and I picked up a water feeder and some dog treats. So many Pilgrims bring their dog on their Camino. I can’t believe I missed it. And I gave the Camino dogs their own yellow arrow on the bench outside the gate. So now, it isn’t just the humans who pass by the gate, or stop off at the food truck, who can rest and refresh. Their furry perro-grino (see what I did there?) companions can, as well. And our neighbors and new friends can stop by, too, and bring their pets. Today, of all days, that makes me just that much happier, as this place feels more and more like home.