Is it serendipity, karma, gift for the soul, a consequence or just plain fortune? But today in Fontiveros, a small town on the way to Alba de Tormes and the end of this Camino, we were privileged to be part of a celebration .
The town is awarding its poetry prize to Gonzalo Sanchez-Teran. He is the winner of the third biennial St Juan de la Cruz poetry contest. Today there was a poetry launch followed by a tour of the many ancient buildings and then lunch. This evening there is a concert, a presentation of the prize and Sanchez-Teran will read some of his poetry. This is the town where St Juan de la Cruz. was born, established a church and wrote. He is a well loved saint of this town and also beloved of poets I am told by our hosts at the lunch: “Fontiveros. Villa de la Poesia”
After the opening discussion/panel of Sanchez-Terran’s Collection we followed a guide on the historical route. I wished I had worked harder at my Spanish as she explained the historical background, stages of renovation, of several beautiful sites: the Carmelite Convent, the birthplace of St Juan de La Cruz, now a church, the Augustine Convent, monuments, palaces and chapels.Finally we entered the huge church, dating from the fifteenth century with an amazing wooden ceiling now fully restored .
Then we were invited to lunch at the bar named after Juan’s father. Served a traditional Fontiveros meal I was told: Soup a la St Juan (a chicken noodle broth), followed by chunky meat and chic peas. I ate the chic peas. The sweets were the best but wisely I only ate half as very very rich. I needed my brain to be working so regretfully had only a couple of glasses of the good tasting red wine. I took my poetry collection to the poet to sign.
And so to bed: siesta time. Then we returned to the Council Building “ Espacio Llama de Amor Viva“ the sign reads. To love life, roughly translated. The poet was presented with his prize,and read some of his work fluently and movingly.
We’re off tomorrow to Narro de Castillo, with great memories of this town of poetry and St. Juan de la Cruz. Plus a resolve to work at my Spanish and read more poetry in Spanish. I am also curious to find out more about St Juan.