Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Restaurante Roulette & Jose Maria's Crane

Finding food and drink on the Camino is always risky between the larger towns. Most bar-restaurantes are a room at the end of the house to which an espresso machine, a beer cooler and maybe a bar plus a table or two have been added. Fine when they’re there, but there’s no reliable way to predict what will be there in the smaller towns, and less basis to predict if they’ll be open. Asking people in a larger town whether it will be possible to get coffee or lunch in a given small town along the day’s way results in a shrug of the shoulders.
Today, headed from Burgos to Hornillos del Camino, we were told there would be two bars in Tardajos, but probably nothing in Rabé de Las Calzadas (loosely "marshy-area on the pathway,” after an earlier, wetter age of the Camino). But it was a bright, briskly cool sunny day, so we turned up our noses at the two bars in Tardajos, because they had no outside tables. We had seen a sign promising a bar in Rabé a half kilometer back, and while advertisements are unreliable to say the least as to what’s there (and open), I rationalized that “the chalk on that sign seemed pretty fresh.” Plus, we wanted to push on a bit to shorten the after-lunch walk.
So on we went, with thoughts of a lunchless day (not an uncommon occurrence when playing restaurante roulette). Imagine our joy when we turned the corner into the main plaza and there it was, a bar with tables outside and even a few umbrellas. Doubly so when the bartender greeted our hesitant inquiries whether a tortilla (loosely, scrambled eggs with potatoes or whatever) and, say, tomatoes might be possible with a broad smile, and a promise that there would be a fresh tortilla in five minutes.
Off he went up the street, outsourcing the tortilla. Because he had given each of us a charm-bracelet size medal of Mary, our Japanese peregrine took out her stack of origami paper to make him a crane in return. Someone else asked for a lesson, so they bent to the task of folding (first picture). Not too surprisingly, one crane looked as though it could fly; the other looked like it had crashed, but still cranelike.
Jose Maria was very enthusiastic about his crane (second picture). After bringing us another plate of snacks, he motored off in his late model Volvo. Bar-restaurantes in small Camino towns also seem to be a good business model. But we were delighted with our lunch – delighted enough to barely notice the dusty miles through the fields to Hornillas.