The Moor-slayer of Spain

St James the Moor slayer Follow Me on Pinterest
St James the Moor slayer

Villadangos del Paramo was our next stop after the large city of Leon.

The next morning , after a pleasant breakfast at the parador,we left Leon and made our way, mainly beside roads , to Villadangos del Paramo ,an awkward small town where the council-operated refugio was recently constructed, a purpose-built structure with bathroom , kitchen and several cubicles containing three – tiered bunks.
Although it had all the amenities,we missed the ambience of those earlier refugios attached to monasteries. Although unlocked , it was forlorn and quiet.
But Villadangos did not totally disappoint. Although it was 4 o’clock and past closing time, a cheerful young waitress at the Bar Avenida sat us down in her back room for a robust meal, starting with a salad of tuna, peas and cubed potato – salada rusa ; followed by fried chicken and chips; crisp fresh bread ; and flan , all washed down by a pleasant glass of rose .
Fortified, we strolled through quiet back streets towards the Church of Santiago . Nearby, four old ladies sat together on a bench . Carol joined them for a chat. They got on like a house on fire and one of them, Laureana , who had the key to the church, proudly offered to show us through it – an offer we accepted with alacrity.
What an amazing gem! Inside, dominating an ornately carved and painted wall above the altar,was a wooden statue of St James ,patron saint of Villadangos , in his Moor-slayer guise, astride a white charger, sword raised, in the act of trampling a hapless Moor. Visibly moved by Laureana ’s faith and pride in her church , Carol offered to light a candle for her in the Cathedral at Santiago . Laureana looked heavenward, clasping her gnarled, weathered hands together in a gesture of gratitude .
We returned to the refugio to find a Spanish cyclist had arrived. Over his meagre dinner, he told us that he also was heading towards Santiago .
“I am cycling about 120km every day,” he said.
“That’s amazing.”
“I do not have much time, so I have to cycle fast.”
“Is the camino good for cycling ? ”
“In parts ,but dangerous on the busy main roads.”
“How far tomorrow? ”
“I think maybe only 100km.”
That’s dedication. He was in more of a hurry than I was. Maybe his riches were greater in Santiago. There were only the three of us in the refugio on that quiet night
and we looked forward to a sound sleep. Around midnight came the explosion of fireworks. Obviously another celebration, but why start so late?
We arose before dawn and found that the cyclist had already left.

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