an idiot in spain

santiago diaries

Friday, 15th September.
Enter Dave

The Brazilian women got up several times during the night, waking me each time. They were holding mothers club meetings in the hallway or something. Chattering away, with scant regard for any sleeping Australians.

We stopped in Viana for a rest this morning. We sat in the sun, easting some sort of iced confectionery, and I managed to spill some on my shirt. So I took off my shirt and wandered over to wash it in the fountain. I'm sure I heard cries of "Put it on! Put it on!"

John the Brazilian and his troupe of Brazilians were in the square at Viana as well. "The beautiful girls from Canadia!" he exclaims every time he sees them.

As we were getting ready to leave Viana, I went back to the fountain (no heckling this time) to fill up my water bottle. It was there that I met Dave.

Dave is from Western Australia. And he supports the Weagles, sorry, West Coast Eagles. shudder Dave's walking the Camino with a sheila called Isabel. Isabel speaks a few languages, Dave speaks only English. (He's a phrasebook man too.) Dave raised his eyebrows when he felt how heavy my pack was. Diplomatic of him. Isabel's knees were giving her grief, in fact they looked well dodgy.

The walk to Logrono was dull, the sun hot. Walking through the scrub was at times not unlike the dry Australian bush, with its vertical heat, dusty earth and harsh undergrowth.

Our arrival in Logrono wasn't timed particularly well. We arrived at the refugio just after 2pm. The refugio had closed a few minutes earlier, and didn't re-open until 3pm. We found some benches in a side street and ate the remainder of our food. We watched the ugly locals go by - mullets galore! Somebody really ought to tell them. Not me - I don't speak Spanish.

At 3pm we were admitted to the refugio, and allocated beds. While I was pottering about, I heard Noelle's voice from across the room: "Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!" I looked over to see her rushing from the room. Figuring she'd just cut herself, I finished what I was doing and went looking for her. Barb magically reappeared (she does that), but also didn't know where Noelle was. Hmm.

Noelle turned up later, with quite a tale to tell. While she was ratting around in her backpack trying to find something, she felt a pain in her finger. Thinking she had impaled herself on a pin or something, she withdrew her hand to find a BLOODY GREAT BLACK SPIDER attached to the end of her finger. A bloke nearby grabbed her and rushed her downstairs to reception. A conversation in Spanish ensued (apparently about spiders and doctors and stuff) and the bloke took Noelle to the local hospital! Noelle was freaking out a little, not knowing exactly what was going on. Eventually she was told that there weren't any poinsonous spiders in the Logrono area, and if she was going to be in trouble she would know all about it by now. So they sent her back to the refugio and told her to keep an eye on it.

(keep an eye on the end of your finger?)

Dave and Isabel had rolled up at the refugio in the meantime, and we all headed off with Marcelo to the local internet joint. Our first internetting experience in Spain!

Now earlier I mentioned Marcelo's sixth sense. Marcelo finds things. Within minutes of entering a town he'll know where all the supermarkets, restaurants, internet cafes, souvenir shops, etc, etc are. He just knows. He led us to the internet cafe, we joked that he should be asking for a commission, I think he may have asked for one but didn't seem to get it. He left us to it and went off to discover things.

After an hour of battling a ridiculously slow hotmail, we tried to go back to the refugio. Well, first of all we bought ice creams. They were soooooo gooooood. Oh yeah. Then we went to the supermarket to buy some food for tomorrow. We were puzzled as to why they kept playing the chorus from "We Are The Champions" every now and then. Between bursts of Queen we heard some bizarre Spanish hard rock. Not your traditional supermarket muzak fare. In the fruit section there were disposable plastic gloves next to the bags. You were expected to put the gloves on before handling the fruit! Why? How many grubby people have handled the fruit before it evens gets to the supermarket? Strange Spaniards. And imagine our dismay when we couldn't find any chocolate bread!

Now let me tell you about chocolate bread, or pan de chocolate as they call it in Spain. I discovered chocolate bread in Pamplona, and managed to get the girls hooked on it as well. Yesterday we couldn't find any chocolate bread. Can we last two whole days without chocolate bread? We'll have to try this milk bread stuff (pan de leche) and see how it measures up.

Oh yeah, the supermarket was called "Champion", or something like that, hence the burst of "We Are The Champions" every five minutes inside the supermarket. Now it all makes sense.

Without Marcelo we had no idea how to get back to the refugio. We found a bunch of pilgrims in the square and they told us how to get back to the refugio. Phew, we could've been wandering around for hours!

The people at the refugio recommended a restaurant to us, and told Barb how to find it. Some strange bloke was hanging around the refugio at the same time, making not a lot of sense, speaking to us in a few languages that we didn't understand (one of them may have been english, I'm not sure) trying to get us to visit his vineyard. Well, that's what we think he was after. He did take a shine to the girls. Moving right along.

Four of us went to the restaurant - we were joined by Amilcar, Marcelo's friend, who speaks Portuguese, Spanish and English. He thinks his English is ordinary, but we reckon it's excellent. Especially compared to our Spanish. We found the restaurant despite Barb's navigating abilities ( know, but I don't get many opportunities!) and were shown to a table inside. There was no menu, and the waiter came over and started addressing me in Spanish. Amilcar thankfully intervened, and translated the menu for us. Goodness knows what we would've eaten had we gone on our own!

We probably would've ended up eating flan. Have I told you about flan? Possibly not. First of all, congratulations on making it this far. If Noelle hadn't been bitten by a spider, perhaps this one would've been a bit shorter. Secondly, no matter what you order for dessert (postre) in Spain, you get served flan. You think you've ordered custard, you get flan. You think you've ordered creme caramel, you get flan. Sheesh.

On the way home we were cacking ourselves over Barb's phrasebook. There's a whole section on dating! "May I have this dance?" "Your place or mine?" All that rot. What a crackup!