The long journey is over for the rabit piligrimin, on this stage of the piligriminage, and this is a photo of the end of the track. I am now high up in the foothills of rugged mountains on the Costa Blanca, looking down at the nearby Mediterranean. My temporary accommodation in an out-of-season mountaineering chalet is a twelve kilometre bike ride from the International College where I shall be teaching, starting the day after tomorrow, and I went for my first visit to the college this morning.
Then I went to the police to obtain my employment credentials and get my National Insurance number for Spain. After the horrendous experience of the CRB in England – which prompted my journey – I was dreading the visit to the police station. The Policia Nacional officer processed my application in twenty minutes; he was perfectly welcoming and pleasant; and the cost was just 6 Euros and 82 centimos.
Well, I’m sorry, but I can’t help making this comparison: in my attempt to return to teaching in England, the CRB messed up my life for three months, cost me the job I was hoping to return to, refused to enter into discussion of the problem for weeks, then admitted seven counts of error in processing my application for clearance, and they charged £40 for this nightmare. Those same unspeakable people are now continuing to argue with my solicitor about the amount of compensation they are prepared to pay. But I do have the CRB to thank for inspiring me to leave my own country and go and teach in another country, where citizens and professionals are respected. Oh yes, and this place gets 360 days of sunshine too!
I cycled back up the long hill in the 40 degree midday heat, but now it has clouded over slightly and the mountain air is cool and pleasant. I now sit on a terrace drinking a large bottle of beer from the local shop: near to the church tower of San Bartolomeo in the photo here. I shall go to the church for Sunday Mass.
Just up the hill from the church in a narrow street of whitewashed houses, there is a small plaque on the wall: Camino de Santiago and an arrow pointing the way. On further enquiry, your rabit piligrimin learned that there is a local piligriminage association, so I decided to make their acquaintance pretty soon.
Also in this photo, just to the left of the brightly lit yellow house in the foreground, there is a smaller, ochre coloured house. I have been reliably informed that I can find there a man who keeps donkeys. I shall also be visiting him soon, and if you have followed this blog you will know why. So I will end with two more photos of the aminals I shared the piligrimin paths with.