Day #23 El Camino
Thursday 5th October
Ponferrada > Villafranca del Bierzo
Distance walked: 23km
I woke in my own room, and in my own sweat. I had to google translate the word sweat into Spanish so that I could explain myself to my host. When you stay in someone’s home and there’s a wet patch in the bed and you’re the only person who slept there, it needs explaining, covering up or you simply must murder them to save any embarrassment. Most of the albergues I stay in provide this hair net kind of material cover that you must put on the pillow and mattress. It’s to stop bed bugs. Last night was the first night apart from the AirBnb and hotel that I didn’t need to use one, but now I wish I had one! I’d left this awkward patch of sweat from my back. It was too high up the bed to look like I’d peed the bed, but still, I had to translate what had happened. I basically drowned under the warm blankets and lost half my body weight in sweat. I then murdered my host. Shame.
Kidding. I was given some breakfast and dropped off at the place I was picked up. Easily recognisable. The only castle in town. And away I was off for another adventure.
As I left the city I could have sworn Tony Abbott was in front of me. I saw these ears and got the vibe of a douchebag in front of me. I had to catch up to confirm my sighting. I looked around to see if he had minders, but no, he was doing the walk alone. I’d had my chance to say my piece to the ex PM of Australia when we were on the same flight from Canberra to Melbourne this year. I blew it. I knew I’d be arrested or something if I caused a scene. Then later I found out some guy head-butted him. I dreamt up little scenarios of how I’d confront him on the Camino. One involved me approaching him and saying “excuse me, are you…” anticipating him to get excited being recognised, before continuing “oh, no, sorry, I thought you were someone I knew, nope, my mistake, you are NOBODY!” And that would make me smile. Alas, it wasn’t him. Tony was busy in Australia being a dickhead. Despite chewing on iBuprofen today, my left shin is still giving me the shits and I hobbled into VillaFranca a happy boy to find a bed. My uphill walking is fine, the flat parts I can do, but going downhill, even on a slight angle is proving painful at the moment. Even stepping up and down steps.
I was surrounded by a team of angels today and they were all Spanish. A group of guys and girls I couldn’t understand because they speak so fast with each other came to the rescue and returned from their lunch with a bag of ice. I spent quite some time with my leg up and didn’t go far. The main square in the town was a big drop downhill and after one walk to get something to eat, I was not going back down for another dinner or drinks. I was not in a good way.
They were offering massages in exchange for a donation at the albergue, I was tempted but also put off because I wince in pain if I’m already hurt and someone touches me. I figured ice was the best for now. A young guy from Germany rocked up to check-in, he strutted in the doorway with no shirt on and chest out wearing aviator sunglasses. Picture Val Kilmer in Top Gun. He was a real Goose. After check-in, he immediately signed up for a massage, I assume, assuming it was from the pretty girl who was registering him. He proceeded to move about shirtless for the next while and then I unfortunately caught him standing stark naked in the men’s bathroom preparing to shower. The door to the communal garden was wide open and he was either very open and unaware of how doors worked, or just after attention. I think the latter. He was facing the other way but I still shut the door on him. Nobody needed to see this. The look on his face when he went into the massage and the look when he came out very soon after was priceless. It wasn’t the girl giving the massage. Tonight, I was mistaken for being both German and Spanish. I guess my Spanish is so bad, some think I sound German. There was a big dog taking pleasure in trying to eat people’s clothes off the line, the dog belongs to the albergue or perhaps the dog owns the albergue. Watching the pilgrims rush to see if their clothes were being destroyed by a slobbering Saint Bernard was also amusing. Although when we walk with the bare minimal attire, I can see why it could be upsetting to have your best and only pants being chewed on by a giant dog.
PS. sweat = sudor in Spanish (in case you ever need to know!)