by Craig Randall
March 19, 2005
A pension is a room for rent. With the right questions, you can easily find this sort of lodging in any small town along the way. Ours was a room above a bar. Seeing as it was a weeknight, the bar noise, even though there was a football match being played to decide the European Champions Cup (Madrid d. Bayern Leverkusen), didn't awaken us. The room had a full bath with clothesline access, which was needed and welcomed.
The final kilometers towards Compostela were full of anticipation. Would there be a red carpet waiting to receive us? Would we sigh with joy as we came over the top of the Monte de Gozo? Would our hearts be filled with the same anticipation as had filled millions of pilgrims over the centuries?
As we approached the outskirts of Compostela, we could see that what awaited us was much different than that which had welcomed those pilgrims in eras gone by. Nevertheless, the emotions were similar without a doubt.
One city would await us prior to our entering the Holy City. Historically, this had been a ritual cleansing point for those tired, weary, and smelly pilgrims who had traversed the entire Camino, in many instances without a bath.
The Academy Award for "Best City Name": Lavacolla
The name Lavacolla includes the words for "washing" [lavar=to wash] and "your genitals" [colla=scrotum]. I mentioned earlier that this is by far the most curious of nomenclatures for any city. Imagine the conversation between a Lavacollan and someone else:
Lavacollan: "Hi, I'm Bob."
Outsider: "My name's Phil. Where are you from?"
Lavacollan: "I live in Washyourgenitals, Spain."
Outsider: "Excuse me?"
Rest assured that we already had felt sufficiently bathed after a short ride out of Palas do Rei, and there was no "honoring history" performed by our group on this day.
From journal The Camino de Santiago - Spain