Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A third report from Terry in Samos

One week into my posting--half way done. I'm still learning my job, but, aren't we all?

A few random thoughts. First, the wonder that is Google Translate. If you aren't friends with Translate yet, be sure to become acquainted before coming to Spain. I used it frequently with Manuel and Miguel before they left. Probably 50% of our communications involved Translate.  Translate works with text input and with photographic input without an Internet connection. Photo input can be from your device’s camera or from a photo already on your camera. Text input works best, but photo input is great for reading brief signs. The translation isn't 100% accurate, but it's way better than my Spanish. With an Internet connection, Translate accepts speech input and handwriting. I have not tried the latter, but Miguel and Manuel used speech input a bunch (I connected to WiFi from the restaurant across the street.)

A major step for us was to establish a better way to communicate with our monesterio contact,  Father Cristobal. For a while we were using the gift shop attendant to pass handwritten notes to Father Cristobal. Now we use email with Translate which is easier, quicker, and more reliable. I write the message in English,  use Translate to produce the Spanish text, then paste the translation into the message in front of the English. ‘Works great. When his reply comes back in Spanish, i just select his text, click on Translate from the popup menu, and, viola, I have his response, more or less, in English.

Yesterday Michael and I did our 2nd laundry. The beds have fitted bottom sheets and there are fabric pilliow cases. We try to wash any bed linens, that have been used, at least once per week. We have paper “linens" available, but we distribute them only upon request. The way it works here at Samos is that we ask Father Cristobal for a time when we can have access to the washing machine. There are no automatic dryers and so everything must be hung on the lines. Some of the sheets and pillowcases have waterproof plastic linings, so we reverse them while drying to avoid a wet side. So far we have been lucky with the weather. I hope that continues for the next week.

Meals at Samos are, perhaps unique. The monesterio provides all our meals, and they have been excellent. A couple of days ago, Father Cristobal admonished us to finish our meals in 30 minutes so that we would not inconvenience the kitchen staff. Our prior guidance from a Google translation of the introductory letter was to,  “eat quickly to the rhythm of the monks, who It is quite fast.” That is difficult guidance to use, since we never eat with the monks. Father Cristobal’s more specific guidance helps a lot. Here is a link to a typical dinner:


Whoops, lunch today must also be included:

Very tasty paella and chicken. 

On Thursday we encountered our 1st bedbug. Fortunately,  my companero had dealt with bedbugs before. We moved the perregrina to another bed, then I bought some insecticide from the local supermercado which we sprayed judiciously on the bed after mopping the next morning. Hopefully that will be the end of the bugs for a while.

I should mention that Michael’s prior Hospitalero experience has been invaluable. I suspect that Anai tries to pair newbies like me with experienced Hospitaleros, to smooth the newbie learning curve.

It's interesting to see the behavioral patterns of the peregrinos. Some days they are very quiet,  staring at screens. Other days, very boisterous and outgoing. Groups of Italians are invariably enthusiastic and talkative. Our peregrino count peaked last Saturday, and has been declining since.  Michael expects an upturn today (Saturday).

I'll try to write a final note a week from Sunday on the train back to Madrid.

I send you greetings from Monesterio San Julian de Samos.


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