Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The King of Sangüesa

- And I tiled the floor of the cabin. 

     Some call him the King of Sangüesa   He has cycled to thousands of places and talked to all the locals that  would listen to him. It is well known that he has prevented numerous fights in the village festivals where he has been, as he himself recognizes, all too often. The bike helps him to curb his alcoholism, he is aware that cycling drunk is danger to himself and others, and those others are what matter most to him  in this life. 

- With these hands I've saved lives. I have done heart massages and I have saved people in accidents. I saved my brother when our car rolled over, he jumped out the window and went into a ravine. 

     The King of Sangüesa also knows how to lay tiles. He proudly shows his parents´ house in the village which his brothers disparagingly call “the cabin”  and whose floor he tiled. Between photos he remembers his years of military service, which he did as a volunteer for the Red Cross, a course in plumbing and his adventures in the largest plantation of medicinal herbs of Navarra. Suddenly, pulls out two bottles from the backpack, which he always carries while bicycling. 

- Look, this is a plantain ointment. It is for wounds. And this right here is rosemary, which serves for muscle aches. I make them. The plantain one has to be macerate for a year. They tell me it is not correct to speak of ointment as ointments are creams and these are liquids. I use the nettle one on my hair and I'm the only one of my brothers who is not bald. 

     The King of Sangüesa proudly wears his curly hair loose, giving it its characteristic appearance. A huge pendant that emulates the head of a ram and belonged to a deceased friend makes him unmistakable for walkers along the Arga. Caritas  manages his money and he lives in a supervised home. 

- From what I pay for rent, 5 euros are for things around the house, but I have to buy the toilet paper. Sometimes, when someone says that something hurts him, that he has had an accident, that he is going to the physio and that the pills do nothing for him, I give him a massage and heal him. But ... do not think badly, huh? That  when I give a massage I just do what I have to do. Once I did a test and it turns out that all men are not equal, they told me that sex did not come out in the test. The Witchdoctor taught me how to give massages and now I sell my ointments (because my parents tell me that this is also work because before I gave them away) but I don´t charge for the massages. I teach people to give massages like those that The Witchdoctor taught me. 

     The King of Sangüesa recalls his youth, when he won several competitions with his cycling team. He was a born athlete, who  took a liking to cycling and judo. The Witchdoctor was the team physio, a renowned doctor who wanted to sign up with the first team in which Indurain participated. But people who heal with herbs are also called wizards, and they recognize each other even before talking. He knows many teachers, of whom he is a disciple and  friend. 

- I have seven books of medicinal plants. Four in Sanguesa and three I have brought to Pamplona. My parents have a cabin in Sangüesa,  well, my brothers call it a cabin. But it's very big, I tiled the floor. There I have a garden of medicinal herbs. With that, with what I collect and what I can buy, such as camphor, I make my ointments. Everything is  tested, my parents and I have been my guinea pigs. 

     The King of Sangüesa can also be considered a witchdoctor, he loves the Aragon River, with a talent for helping others and a vast knowledge of natural medicine. With one of his ointments and a massage he heals the battered knee of a travelling cyclist while regretting that in order to legally sell his magic he would have to patent his products For the Health Dept. to give its approval he would have to pay high fees (read bribe). Meanwhile, these ointments can be purchased  in supermarkets for twice the price of what they cost. Products like shark cartilage pills, which have already been established to be useless. He relies on word of mouth, and in this sense he seems to be doing well. 

     Four hours after introducing himself, he accompanies us to the old part of Pamplona. He still has ten minutes before they let him enter the social dining hall and dinner for 50 cents. Grateful, we say goodbye to a beautiful person, a healer of those that cure, a sane person in a crazy world. Until yesterday, I never knew Sangüesa had a king. 

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