A cold night in the Plaza Santa Teresa

Monday night we arrived at the Hotel Palacio after 30 odd hours of travel : flight from Perth to Madrid, train to Pio Principio and another train to Avila. Half an hour walk and there we are. Transposed to another country. Just spent Tuesday afternoon, our first whole day in Spain, packing and repacking once again. and the keyboard is still here Wednesday. So this post is about extended preparation for this Camino Teresiano. Or Ruta de Santa Teresa, and the thousand decisions and waverings that seem to multiply as the actual walk looms.

And we’ve just decided to stay here another day

So this morning (25/5) is the first time I am using the new small keyboard on this trip.It’s been a while since I have used it and surprisingly I have got used to NOT using it, typing on my phone. The temptation is to go on doing so, but have carried this keyboard all this way from Fremantle Western Australia in my backpack.

So yesterday morning started with a very good breakfast at the Palacio Hotel. Kept us going for remainder of the day. Then out into a cold day and there is the Cathedral del Salvador de Avila. Fittingly, the first and last building for the day. Just realised that the hotel we are in is one of the palaces that once surrounded this gothic/Romanesque building with an imposing entrance signalling its doubling as a fortress in medieval times. There is something dour and cold about this Cathedral, maybe because its a cold day and also it is beautiful but impenetrable doors remain firmly shut.

Then it’s into the jobs for the day: the Officina Tourismo to get a map, directions to the Orange phone place, information about various sites we want to see and the opportunity to practice my Spanish. Ironically some of my phrases sound so good that the recipient thinks I am fluent, so responds with the usual rapid fire speech of which I understand about half, and have to pretend I’ve got it all . So now I have had to write down and am learning “I am trying to speak Spanish”. The highlight of the Tourismo visit was the painting of Saint Teresa on the wall, a 3D one that one is invited to touch. So. I did. I was so happy to have my photo taken that we managed the first forgetting episode of the day. Left my notebook at the tourist info desk.

Next coffee, first bar cafe con leche in Spain, then the Orange shop for Spanish SIM cards. Always a bit of a stressful experience explaining, deciding and inserting the cards. Coffee again and a realisation that the book is at the tourist office so back we go .

Then it’s walking and looking at this very pretty city. Cobbled streets, lots of Churches and attractive apartments with small balconies facing the streets, tables from spilling out from the bars. When the sun spasmodically shone and the cold lifted people gathered for coffees and lunches. I imagine that when it’s warmer these streets will be full of people. At the moment still quiet .

We ended the morning at Convento De Santa Teresa, which houses the room where she was born and the inevitable relics. But more of her and the walk round the walls to check the start of the walk later.

The afternoon back at the hotel room tossing out stuff, and reinstating some. This happens every Camino. The realisation that weight equals injury and aches! Trip to pharmacist and purchase of foot cream and talcum powder. Panic again, me this time . Where is…. ..?

So this day is about an experience of Avila . Also about the psychology of forgetting. The familiar configurations of place, people, language are gone. So also have the normal places where objects of significance are kept -phone, money, cards. Now we also have masks, sanitisers, key cards for entry, passports, and lots of pockets . Where is ???

Perhaps the decision to stay another day in Avila was made partly because I have not settled in to this somewhat scattered life yet and starting to walk so soon does not feel ok

So I’ll end this blog at the Cathedral. A morning shot.

Morning Avila