Camino de Santiago 2007 Part II - Good Friday - The Passion
The most venerated day in Spain. Every town has processions of penitents carrying sculptures of Jesus. Each “pasos” can weigh up to a tonne and they're carried through the streets with great solemnity.
We had a breakfast of strong coffee and pastries, awaiting a lull in the parade so we could leave the town. Yesterdays travails through Carborundum country had desiccated the running gear. Short of chain lube, we nicked Olive Oil from the table and poured it over the chains.
Minutes after setting off Jono’s bike quit. Today was going to be another suck-fest. The forks acted as a mud collector, building a solid clay brace in front of the original aluminium one. Removing the actual brace just made the front wheel flex. Jono carried the bike through the groves with great solemnity.
The sun came out, briefly, and we made good progress to Alcaudete. Jesus, and Mary; yet another procession of pasos awaited us.
The next storm that drenched was dramatic, with towering thunder clouds. It came down in stair rods. The visions of doom started shortly after the sculpture of Jesus was interred in the church. Perhaps it was a message. “Stop!” We didn’t. Clawing brown ooze was everywhere. I started to develop taphophobia.
Slurry continued to hose as we entered more chuffin’ groves. Frustration starting to build, gentle slopes had turned into an "Its a Knockout" contest. The last deluge had transformed the damp clay into an oozing layer of ocre-coloured scum. This red weed penetrated every orifice; choking, clogging, grinding its way through aluminium, gore-tex, flesh. We carried our pasos to a rise, hoping for relief, finding only despair as a large marshy expanse was revealed before us.
Clinging to hope, we freewheeled down the slope to the lake's swampy shore. The ooze snatched at the rear mech of the IF and slammed it into the cassette in a clearly sentient act. Smashed beyond repair, several new words were created for “Roger’s Profanisaurus”. We carried the bikes, weighing almost a tonne, across the marsh to a hard-pack road for makeshift repairs.
Circling the pit of despair we failed to check our guide book and tired and depressed we laboured up a hill, to the wrong village. This place had no lodging and no shops; but it had a chuffin' parade.
Heads low we pressed on in the hope of solace. We arrived in Baena in darkness; cold, damp, and hungry. We needed food and shelter badly. The biggest procession by far awaited us, these pasos were escorted by hundreds of penitents wearing their “capirotes”. Every road was choked with penitents and bands and marchers. All we wanted was warmth and food. Taking frustrating detours we found no room at the inns. A helpful receptionist rang everywhere; hotels, pensions and albergues. All full.
A Samaritan peered into the foyer and suggested the “Crus Roja”, a facility for the desperate and needy. Visions of Nuns with hot bowls of soup and warm beds quickly dissipated once we saw the hovel. Despite our condition we had the feeling that once in, only “Snake Plissken” could get us out. We opted for the shelter of a wall in wheat field. On the verge of hypothermia we were eventually barked to sleep by the local mad dogs....