Stayed in a tiny town last night and had a bit of an unpleasant experience. I stayed in a parish Albergue which means there is a shared dinner and the night is free (donation optional). There were 16 bunks in a very small room. Because it was free, it seemed to draw a younger crowd and many were hammered.
The man that ran the show was named Miguel and he was a bit of a Nazi. The plan was to start preparing food at 7 and eat at 8. Around 7:30, we were all waiting to help when Miguel made his grand entrance. I am sure he has not pooped for days as he was rather retentive. I was slicing bread, but the pieces were too big. The man chopping the onions received a similar reprimand. Those waiting for an assignment waited with shame as the commander took his time in rationing the duties. Around 9:00, I gave up and went to bed. I understand they finally ate at 9:45.
I woke up at 5:30 and quietly took my stuff to the kitchen to pack in silence. There were several baskets of bread with butter and jam by the side. I helped myself to a few slices and was putting on my pack around 6:20. Miguel entered the room and was furious that I was in the kitchen. Through divine intervention, he expected me to know that people were not allowed in the kitchen until 6:30. If he would have known that bread was in my tummy, I may have been electrocuted.
The jury was unanimous about a bad time at this joint. A woman from South Africa told me that two drunken fools having sex in the bunk above her.
The morning hike was a blast. The sunrise had colors that Pablo Picasso may have seen in his dreams. I stopped and looked back at least 15 times. While not in a hurry, it did remind me that going forward is difficult when you are always looking backwards.
We had a huge downhill that declined 3000 feet over 8 miles. Most of the trail was steep and rocky. My feet became quite angry by the end of the slope.
I met a nice lady from Belgium named Macha (pronounced Marsha). Her husband died 25 years ago from cancer. She has three grown children and the oldest is 37. Five years ago, without notice, she was dumped by a lover of six years. She decided to try the Camino to get over her fear of being alone. For the past three years, she has done ten day stints on the path. This year, she is doing the entire enchilada from St. Jean. Her happiness was very apparent.
The Camino ate my shoes. By the end of today, there was a sizeable hole in the sole.
Here is how shopping works in Spain. During the weekdays, some things are open for a small amount of time. On Saturday, very few things are open for tiny amount of time. Sunday is for Church. There are no Wal-Mart’s, Walgreens, or Albertsons. Instead, bread is bought at the panaderia, drugs at the Pharmacia, and fish at the pescadaria. In the smaller villages (Which is 95% of the time), a tienda may be the size of a small closet. With that in mind, I am at the last big city on the trail (and 130 miles from Santiago). The town has 62,000 people. Across the street from my hotel, there is a small sports shop. I felt like chewing my nails while waiting until 5:00 for the owner to complete his siesta. Needless to say, I am a bit larger than most of the Spanish men, so my hopes were not high. I was thinking about taking a train to Madrid for a better selection. When the man arrived (well rested), he brought two pairs of 13 and one 14. The 14 was the exact shoe that I adore. While a bit loose, it sure beats the alternatives. I am still fearful of “breaking them in” on the trail. Still, the Camino always seems to provide to those in need.
I am looking forward to some Pizza for dinner. On that front, I am pretty sure my skinniest jeans will be wearable on Oct 16.