La Fuente del Vino de Irache
Can you imagine a fountain of wine? Free wine. An unsupervised source of Spanish red. No? I found it hard too. Thought it was a myth. One of many we heard as we journeyed along the Camino de Santiago. But it had to be worth checking out, right?
We had heard about La Fuente de Vino, the infamous fountain of wine, in guide books and gossip. The kids imagined it as something like the Trevi fountain, impressive jets of red wine so high they could dance underneath them, if only I would let them. I was just after a free glass of red.
It wasn’t easy to find the Monastery of Irache. Which made me all the more convinced it must be true. I mean, you wouldn’t make a fountain of free wine obvious and easy to find would you? You’d have to restrict access somehow. So it was a disappointment, after hours of cycling around searching, to finally arrive at the monastery and find the impressive fountain of our dreams was just a couple of taps. Spirits lifted however when we saw one tap was labelled agua and the other vino.
Not quite the miracle we imagined
It seemed like a miracle. A generous gesture in support of tired and thirsty pilgrims. Something to ease the pain of the journey, lubricate the mind, forge bonds between strangers on the road. Except that when we turned the tap the fountain was dry. Well, the vino one was anyway. Water flowed freely.
Were we too late? Had today’s supply run out already? Had the early morning stick wielding walkers beaten us to it, filled their bottles and staggered on to sleep it off in the sun? Or was the whole thing just a cruel hoax?
“Dad,wait, we can buy some here.”
The kids were the first to spot if. A vending machine situated behind bars next to the fountain.
The vending machine of Irache
“Can we buy one? Can we buy one?”
Having made them cycle miles in the heat to get to the “exciting fountain of gushing wine” it seemed cruel to refuse. Besides it was only a euro for a half bottle, that’s almost free. And there was red, white or rose too. More choice than the fountain.
And so, like any good pilgrim I forgave my growing sense of commercial cynicism at the setup, embraced the kids optimistic outlook and bought a small bottle of red, a small bottle of white and a small bottle of rose. That’s the problem with having three kids. You can’t just get one bottle.
Not that I’m complaining. While the kids filled the water bottles from the working tap, Kirstie and I forgot our troubles the way pilgrims do, happily forgetting the fountain was dry.