an idiot in spain

santiago diaries

Tuesday, 3rd October.
Where's the beer?

Things you need to know so that some of today's events make sense:

1 Barb was paranoid early on that she would get cerveza (beer) and servicios (toilets) mixed up. She hadn't. None of us had. One day we spent half-an-hour walking along practicing the word servicios.

2 Spain's roads are filled with white vans. Little white vans. Some stop and sell bread out the back (after much honking of the horn), others stop and sell fish out the back (after much honking of the horn), and others just carry Spanish men clad in blue overalls. White vans are dangerous - don't take 'em on.

3 Spain smells. Bad. It smells of shit. We call that odour "Eau d'Espana". Ok, we're walking through rural Spain, you'd expect it to smell a bit. But honestly, there is cow shit EVERYWHERE.

Now here's a dream for all you amateur analysts out there! (Note to amateur analysts: get a real hobby! Go out and watch some sport or gamble or go hunting or join an extreme political party or become a trainspotter or something, just stop wasting your time! It's bad enough that there are professional analysts out there!) Anyway...

Ok, so I'm playing tennis against Venus Williams. Well I think it was her, it might have been her sister. No no no, it was definitely Venus. The other one's better looking. Although she does have a bigger arse. Not that it matters, because the in-laws would freak me out. (Like the way I'm seriously discussing this as if I have to choose between the sisters?) Moving right along, I'm playing tennis against Venus Williams. Except that I'm late. Someone else has been playing for me, and they were getting beaten. So I take over, but instead of using a racquet I'm using my polar fleece jacket. It's not doing the trick. I swear, Venus tells me I'll get a fine, I say that's fine by me. Next thing I've fallen face first on the ground near the net, and she leans over the net and taps me on the arse with her racquet! At which point I wake up.

In the morning I asked Noelle if she woke me up for snoring, but she hadn't. And nobody had seen either of the Williams sisters hanging about. Moving right along...

We found ourselves taking the road route this morning. We hadn't meant to, it just happened. We came to some roadworks, and we had a suspicion that we might be lost. There are no yellow arrows (the markings of the Camino) to be seen anywhere. After a minute or so another pilgrim appeared, then two more. We figured we were either all lost together, or on the right track.

After a while we discovered that we were indeed on the Camino. The Italian bloke was a good laugh. He took a liking to Barb (well who wouldn't?) (that'll cost you a pastry, Barb!), while the girls took a liking to the Dutch guy. "There's just something about him." They thought it was cute the way his ears poked out under his hat. We weren't sure if he and the Austrian woman were an item. The girls thought not, but that might've been wishful thinking. Or women's intuition.

"I think it's time for my morning martini!" declared the Italian. We stopped at a cafe and refuelled. Then we're back on the road, through little Spanish towns that lack the charm of the towns we passed through during the first few days on the Camino. It was in one of these anonymous towns that we heard the honking of a bread truck. Here's our chance, we'll buy bread from the bread truck! We were living the dream.

The first part of today's walk was fairly flat. The second part involved a small mountain. Or large hill. It's all about perspective! At the foot of the mountain we stopped at a little town. Barb and I needed a toilet break, so we trotted across the road (dodging white vans) to buy a drink and ask where the loos are. (Sort of defeats the purpose, buying a drink then going to the loo, but moving right along...)

Barb edged towards the bar and asked the lady: por favor, donde esta la cerveza? (Please, where's the beer?)

She looked at Barb blankly. Somehow I hadn't fallen about laughing, I had remained composed. Totally out of character. "Servicios!" I shot across the bar. Barb corrected herself, and the lady pointed in the direction of the loos.

"So we're in a bar," I was telling the others later, "and Barb asks 'Where's the beer?'!" We were all bent over double with laughter. Poor Barb.

We cranked it up going up the steep incline. Basically, we were amazing. It's a still, warm October day, and we were walking under a clear blue sky. At about 3pm we were near the top, and we stopped, sat down on the grassy mountainside and broke out the food. A breeze rushed up the side of the mountain and brushed across our cheeks. We watched white vans zip along the winding roads across the valley.

El Cebreiro is the town at the peak, and there we encountered the Dutch guy and the Austrian woman. The girls wanted to stay at the refugio where the Dutch guy was. We also saw the Brazilian girls. Dave wanted to stay at the refugio where the Brazilian girls were. Somehow we ended up walking to the next town (I had nothing to do with this decision! It may have been that we spotted The French) and staying at a self-run refugio.

It was there that we were treated to an amazing sunset, and it was there that Lolly the South African got chased by a cow, and it was there that the still night air had that first chill of an approaching winter. The mornings would be colder from now on, night would be falling earlier and earlier, and the pre-season competition would be finished, it must be time for the home-and-away season. What's that? It's October? What the...