My arrival back in Madrid was followed by VaughnVillage’s “Ice Breaker” where we
meet the teachers and students we will be working will for the week at our new venue San Zoilo. This is the oldest Romanesque building in Carrion de los Condes and was a much trafficked hospital on the Camino de Santiago for weary and sick pilgrims. The current structure dates from between the 11th and 16th centuries and has been completely restored to accommodate modern creature comforts.  The Way of St James, has been one of the most important Christian pilgrimages since medieval times and it has existed fro over 1000 years. Las Vigas, the restaurant at the monastery, uses the best of fresh seasonal produce being grown in the farm at the Monastery. Carrion de los Condes is a place where a traveler can eat like a king, rest with the tranquility of a monk, and have the fun of a villain. 

We had Canapes and Wine. I met some of the Anglos.  Fred from Lordsburg , New Mexico.  His wife and he lived in Lima, Peru but he hated it so traveled to Spain and had completed 14 sessions while she worked at the American embassy in Lima.  She had two years before retirement and then they both would travel the world. Richard, a lawyer from Cape Town , South Africa.  Carolyn, another 14 session veteran from near Seattle , Washington.  She ran a Temp Agency but was also on the Board of Directors for two major Corporations and had a leave of absence to travel. She planned on quitting in 2 years to travel the world. A Mother and daughter from Adelaide, Australia that were from Wales originally.  Two black women Tobi and Mary from London.  Tobi is studying Spanish to travel to South America and the other was a Social Worker trying to get rid of the stress in her life.  Julie from Stratford ,Ontario that had been with me at Gredos. There was Sutin? And his girlfriend from Toronto.  He is Indian. We had lunch then another siesta.

San Zoilo is a restored 12th or 13th Century Monastery on the Santiago Pilgrimage Trail
from France to Northwestern Spain. The first night I only had a one on one with Javier, then dinner and to bed earlier.

The next morning was four one on ones in a row after breakfast.  All four were beautiful young and intelligent Spanish ladies.  The last one, I walked to the village with and we ran into Juan and Suchin.  We walked to what Juan thought was a water tower and I inquired with a local elderly man who lived next door. Yes it was a water tower.  We meandered back for lunch and on the way, Manuela, my one on one and I encountered a Pilgrim on the St James Way.  He was from Green Bay, Wisconsin and had walked 1000 Kilometers so far.  He was getting college credit for this and was researching Monastic life from the Middle Ages.  I invited him to see the Cloisters at the hotel but when we arrived the Front desk manager said he wasn’t allowed unless he was a guest.  I explained he was my guest and she allowed him into the Cloisters and the museum.  I had a lovely lunch with three Anglo ladies and two of the Spanish ones that I had an earlier one on one with. 

 One afternoon a football game was organized in the yard between the talented Students and Teachers.

 We cheered on while they planned their strategy.

Carmen who had lived and worked in Northern Chile and wants to return.  She had to quit in order to come back home to care for her sick mother. 
Then there was  Lorena who had studied English in Los Angeles with people from all over the world. She said it was a waste of money because they were Chinese, etc that spoke broken English like herself and none learned anything.  They visited San Francisco and San Diego.  She also spent a week in NYC before returning and loved it.

Maria , who is a student studying Business at U of Madrid, will be taking her first trip to the USA with her mother and father. He graduated from MIT with a degree in Business then met his wife, got married and started out in Phoenix.  They are returning in August to see the place they spent their first year together.  I wonder if my restaurant was open then.  I gave them the address of course.
After siesta, my one on one was with Javier.  He traveled with his Dad all over South America many times.  They visited the Glaciers in Argentina, the Amazon, Ecuador, Bolivia, etc. He is an IT student.  I do have to do a SERVAS presentation on Wednesday and hope to recite a Cowboy Poem.  Last night the San Zoila Players performed the Odd Couple with Richard the lawyer for Cape Town playing Oscar Madison.  He must be a very successful lawyer.  It was fun.

  Fred did a presentation on the basics of the English language and Ricardo did different tongue twisters with individuals from the audience.  Today in Tuesday I hope I get some free time to start planning my trip to Italy. I had a brief phone conversation with Juan after waiting for 15 minutes for him to show up. He had a problem with his Manager in Madrid or something.  We studied the script then he went to his room down the hall and I to mine.  I waited a few minutes and called his room 223 but no answer.  I thought he must be on the cell phone with his manager again so waited some more than tried again. Nothing.  Finally I decided to go to his room and knock on the door but when I started down the hall that he took I noticed the room numbers were all 230 and up.  I returned thinking the MC made an error and meant room 233 so called again with no answer.  Finally I went downstairs to the lobby and inquired at the front desk to discover Juan lived in 230.  I huffed and puffed my way back up two flights of stairs to find him coming out of the room looking for me?  We had a good laugh, completed our assignment and took off on my one on one with Inma.  She spoke very good English as we walked into the village and back. She will visit Texas next year to see a friend.

         I returned early to get some sleep before the flight to Rome the next day. When I arrived at the Hostel, I rang the bell for admittance. Normally you hear a buzzer to unlock the door so you can open it and enter the building. The Hostel was on the third floor. I never heard the buzzer with the crowds in the street and the noise of all the traffic so stood there pressing this button and wondering what happened to the desk clerk.  I waited some more than pressed again and finally I heard the women on the intercom…David? David from Arizona?  I said yes than heard this long protracted buzzing sound.  She laughed when I arrived at the door but I was in a panic imagining spending the last night on the streets of Madrid with the homeless. 

      Air Comet finally called us to board the busses to the Airbus waiting on the tarmac to take us to Roma.  The older, married couple that were arguing and so upset were now smiling and lovey dovey like they were on their first honeymoon.  He remarked that maybe we were being taken to Rome on the bus.  That really wasn’t funny and almost believable.  Had we boarded the bus when we arrived for check in, we would be over halfway there and somewhere in France by now. 

PS  I want to thank those that noticed me smoking in the last post on my Blog.  That was only a rouse to find out if you were paying attention and really looking at the photos or just passing them over and saying Wow Great Photos.  Those of you that didn’t notice, it is OK because most of you are smokers and didn’t really think it was a big deal.  How many of you noticed me naked? You must of saw me tending bar at the “Bar David”….some did.   Or peaking out a window or standing in the doorway of one of those Cathedrals?  Pay attention because there will be a test when I return and the outcome will depend on whether you receive one of many expensive souvenirs I’ve purchase to award the winners.  Love david

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