San Tirso de Abres
My home was the sleepy village San Tirso de Abres
San Tirso is a quiet village of 600. It sits on the borders of Asturias, and Galicia. When it was time to return to the states, I wept. The people of San Tirso accepted me into their little fold with kindness and love. San Tirso was home; I didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t recall the last time I felt part of a community.
San Tirso was a daily routine. At the end of a day on the farm, we returned home for supper. Supper was the lighter daily meal, whereas the big meal was mid-day. Afer a full morning’s chores, those big meals were wonderful: platters of steaks, bowls full of spuds, fresh bread, and hot soup. Yes, I can still see it all on the table. Food never tasted so good. The big lunch required a generous siesta. It was the sleep of the dead — hard work followed with good food put one to sleep. Banks and offices closed mid-afternoons for siesta time. Apres siesta, we’d return to the farm for evening feeding and home for the light supper. After supper — almost nightly — we’d walk from the home into the village square to La Farrapa. La Farrapa was San Tirso’s hardware store / social center. La Farappa was the size of a living room. There were few seats, a solid bench, and the ever-present chess game in a corner. It was a place men gathered every night to chat, drink, smoke cigars, and enjoy Asturias cheese and sausage. Since farm chores required well men, we limited our drinking to a few, usually.
Our home was old. 200 years old. The home’s proper name — El Pasarello. Significant homes are honored with names. It was large, with two stories. Our living, dining, and bedrooms were upstairs. Every wall was stone-and-mortar. The lower level had a small kitchen with the home’s heat source — a wood-fired cook stove. Every morning began with building a fire for heat, and cooking. Our breakfasts were light, with ample mugs of black coffee, or creamed: café con leche. My bedroom was a large one upstairs equipped with armoire and small bed. During my stay, I slept the best I can remember throughout my life. Farm work and good food provided sleep. I’d hit that bed and fall fast asleep in a minutes. Often, I’d rise with the wonderful greeting from precious baby Nico. He’d dash in to wake me for his morning hug.
The home — El Pasarello — was on the edge of San Tirso, and faced the Camino de Santiago, or, Way of St. James. The route begins in France, and ends in Santiago on Spain’s west coast. At the front steps of our home was a small shrine, where modern-day pilgrims left tokens. Traditional scallop shells adorned the small shrine. Periodically, we’d see pilgrims with backpacks making their way to Santiago.
Whenever St. James’s (25 July) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in 5, 6 and 11 year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010. The next will be 2021, 2027, and 2032 (Wikipedia et. al.) My stay fell during one of those special years. We travelled to Santiago and visited the grand Cathedral. That night, cathedral square was a mass of humanity celebrating the occasion. Rockets launched, and food and drink were abundant. Indoor photographs were taboo, but I managed one outdoors before the crowds. The size and grandeur inside was humbling. Still, I can see the gigantic incense urn swinging the width of the cathedral. It was a sense of walking into an ancient history and tradition.