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Pilgrim Tales: “Bin Laden” Paulino and Felisa

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We arrive at The Bodega de Irache on the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim trail in Northern Spain hot and parched. The iron gates of the fabled “Fuente de Vino” are closed and a dishevelled pilgrim and his dog are occupying the space behind them.

“Come in and have a drink! I am Bin Laden and this is my dog  Cana”.

We accept the invitation and push open the gate to enter the domain of the Bodega webcam. The dog “Cana”  licks our hands  and “Bin Laden” whose real name is Pedro offers to take our photos. We pose, while first water then wine runs into our thirsty mouths and washes over  our hands.  What a crazy good tasting and generous tap!

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“Felisa has her own stamp” says the guide book. Like other Pilgrims on The Camino de Santiago pilgrim trail we are collecting Camino stamps at hostels, bars and churches as proof of our journey. When we arrive at Santiago our full passport will swapped for a certificate.

“You are famous” we say as we approach a wayside stall on the track that leads into Logroño.

We ask Felisa for her photo and she poses smiling behind her stall.As well as her own stamp La señora Felisa offers sugar depleted pilgrims fresh figs, if the season and the weather are right.

“These days the weather has gone mad,¨ she says. It´s  too wet and the figs rot on the trees or it´s too hot and dry.¨

¨It never used to be like this in my mothers time¨she adds.

Her mother, who is the real Felisa¨… the celebrated Señora Felisa of the figs, water and love is reputed to have  spent her daylight hours attending to weary pilgrims, offering  them ¨Higos  Agua and  Amor” in the service of God and humanity.  Sadly her daughter tells us that La Señora Felisa  has passed away and the responsibility falls on her, Felisa’s daughter to offer hospitality to Pilgrims outside the family home in memory of her mother.

Paulinos shade shack

Paulino’s home-made wayside shade-shack has everything we need to make us happy. Our needs are few;  water, shade, a snack and a place to rest. We fill our bottles and sip pure coolness before picking up a stone to crack open walnuts of hospitality.

“Thankyou Paulino… your good health!” In our mind’s eye we see Paulino in his veg garden waving a hoe.

“Buen Camino” we think we hear him say.

Many thousands of pilgrims drink from Paulino’s Well on their way to Santiago de Compostella, so  if all of them leave him gratitude, the pool will overflow.

(This story is the second in a series of stories Anna is writing about pilgrims she and Mark met on The Camino de Santiago Pilgrim Trail in Northern Spain).

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