an idiot in spain

santiago diaries

Tuesday, 12th September.
Here come the girls

The dripping noises from the ceiling woke me a few times during the night. If any of you ever stay at Hotel la Perla in Pamplona, make sure you don't get room 216! After my alarm loudly jolted me awake, I packed my bag, which still seemed to be very full and heavy despite posting back so much stuff yesterday. I left after 8am, and hardly saw a soul until I approached the windmills.

As I descended the steep downhill I caught up with a New Zealand couple - Richard and Geraldine. But we can call her Geri. "Bloody hell, more New Zealanders!" I exclaimed. "What do you mean, more?" asked Richard. Turns out they were travelling with the large bearded New Zealander I saw a few days back. His name, as it transpires, is Uncle Howard. Let us not forget this name.

Richard and Geri were travelling with a couple of others. Uncle Howard had left them all behind because they were walking too slowly for his liking. This foursome had a vague idea of where they were going, and none of them spoke a word of Spanish. Hmm. After a while I left them, they were far too slow for me. I intended getting a bed at the refugio in Puenta La Reina tonight.

When I arrived at Puenta La Reina, the refugio appeared to be unstaffed. There were people going in and out of the refugio, but I had no idea what was going on. The sign on the door said it wasn't open for another 45 minutes. A tad confused, I plonked myself outside and waited for divine inspiration. Or something.

A couple of minutes later a bunch of Swiss folks barged on in with their backpacks, so I followed suit. I bagged a bed, and wondered what happened next.

Not a lot, as it turned out. A young bloke rolled up later to collect money and stamp crendecials. I ran into Richard and Geri, and we wandered through the town together. We visited the church, which had an ornate, gold altar. But the floor was wooden. We sat by the bridge and yakked as the sun set.

Soon enough I was hungry, and I sought out a cheap restaurant. I found one, and walked through the bar to the restaurant which was out the back. Two girls I'd seen before at the refugio were there. They invited me to eat with them, which I thought was terribly decent.

Barb and Noelle (Noelle has an umlaut over the first "e", but I can't be bothered working out how to do that...same as all the accents and graves that I'm missing out all over the shop) were from Canada, and still are from what I can gather. Noelle, fluent in French, could speak a little bit of Spanish. Barb knew the Spanish word for beer. Not so bad when you consider the extent of my Spanish when I entered Spain: "Buenos dias", "gracias", "donde esta la telefono" and "sin plomo". Great, so I could say "hello" and "thank-you". Everywhere I went I could find the telephone, so I never actually asked where the telephone was. Furthermore, had I asked I wouldn't have been able to understand the directions. And "sin plomo"? Well that basically means unleaded fuel. Not something you need a lot of when you're on foot.

(As for why I knew "sin plomo", well I bought one of these teach-yoursef-Spanish tapes, and it was geared towards the tourist. And the phrase just stuck in my head, for some unknown reason.)

They're going to wake me when they get up tomorrow.