an idiot in spain

santiago diaries

Monday, 2nd October.
Lights Woman

Underpants Man, Stretch Woman, Ssh! Woman, Make-up Woman, now there is Lights Woman!

This morning, as we started off from the refugio, Dave let us all get our mildly amusing little stories out of the way("Underpants Man pissed in the shower this morning!" "Well if he was waiting for you to finish then I would understand!"), then started telling us a tale that had us in stitches.

Nodding off to land of milk and honey I was, when suddenly I was withdrawn FAST from my pre slumber by a prodding on my leg. 'What the...' I thought. And there she was. Lights Woman. Barking in French assuming I would understand perfectly."

"What is the deal with these Frenchies? They all assume we speak French! In the name of sanity, we're in SPAIN! Sorry Dave, you were saying?"

"If it wasn't for her direct pointing towards the light switch, I wouldn't have had a clue what she was going on about. Ok so she wants the light turned off. That's not too much to ask I s'pose. Could have asked a bit more nicely though. A please or s'il vous plait would have been quite ample.

"Grudgingly, and I do mean grudgingly, I got out of bed, and leant over to the light switch above my head. I actually had to stand up in the end, as the light switch was beyond my reach from a lying down position. Ok I thought, I'm in my underpants, not really a pretty sight, but the exposure time was going to be SHORT so I think I can do it...

"Standing up, turning the light off, and then sitting back down again to get into my sleeping bag, I was once again rudely interupted from my sleep-entering routine by the same lady.. Lady?? lets just say Lights Woman. 'What does she want NOW?' I thought to myself. I just want you to leave me alone. Jibbering away in French I managed to understand enough to work out what she was saying...

"'NO WAY!' I thought, or to use another expression: 'You Must Be Joking' She wanted me to turn off the light that was three sleeping bags down from me, to test whether it would turn the light off on the other side of the room. Good one sherlock... Yeah that'll work I thought.

"You see, to get to the other light switch would require me to step across two other people, to turn off the light. The gap between sleeping bags was about 2 inches. My feet are about 3-4 inches across - you get the picture? Probability of waking one of them up: HIGH. This would not be a pretty sight: to wake up finding some stranger straddling you in the middle of the night AND in their underpants and all...

"So after much bickering between Lights Woman and I, I reluctantly agreed to try the light switch, (to see if it would turn the light off on the other side of the room!) and I must stress reluctantly.

"So carefully treading between sleeping bags, I made my way towards the light switch. I could feel the warm breath of someone on my legs, and their bodies were stirring. I stopped, as did the slumbering bodies. Phew. Edging closer I was within reach of the light switch...

"Ok, now I knew that turning this on would illuminate the area I was standing. Bad. Very bad. Knowing that it would illuminate me and my underpants.

"So stradling the beautiful Brazilian woman, and flicked the switch on and off. And hoped to God she didn't look up. It's enough to make someone sick... urgghhh

"As expected the light illuminated my area, and I triumphantly turned to Lights Woman, and gave her the international language of eyebrows signal for: I told you so!! No further explanation was needed. She turned on her heel, without any thankyou or word of any sort, and trumped off to find her next victim.

"Me, I slinked quietly back into my sleeping bag, hoping that no-one saw me in my prime."

Lights Woman tried every light switch in that refugio before she finally had every light upstairs extinguished. We laughed at Dave's story for about an hour. The Laughing Pilgrims - a merry multi-national troupe of idiots.

Spanish drivers have a funny attitude towards pedestrians. When you cross at a zebra crossing, the traffic doesn't actually stop, they slow down to a speed which they think will give you enough time to cross before they reach the crossing, or mow you down. Parts of the Camino are on tracks shared by pilgrims and locals driving beaten-up old cars. Today we were honked (no I wasn't bending over) as a car approached us from behind. The car didn't actually slow, the driver gave us just enough time to get out of the way before he got there. Is it smart driving? Perhaps, or maybe "clever" is a better way of describing it. Wouldn't work well on deaf people.

Barb bought a new poncho today - we were all happy.

It was late afternoon by the time we arrived at Villafranca del Bierzo. We checked in at the refugio run by some kind of eccentric, and for a while it looked as if we were going to be sleeping on mattresses wedged under the point where the roof met the wall. I spat the dummy, and wandered down to the other refugio in the town to see what it was like, leaving the others behind. The other refugio was a palace, but the last room is filled with the French women! I retreated to the refugio where the others were, managed to bag a bunk and calmed down.

This evening Noelle gave us a guided tour of all the closed alimentacions (shops), non-existent supermercados and the closed church. It was enlightening.