Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Day 9, conclusion

The day was saved, but not the night. We arrived in Albergaria-a-Velha, looking forward to staying in an Albergue (hostel for peregrinos) but found it to be closed, blinds down, gate locked. Actually the place looked abandoned. JH was getting stressed out but noticeably less stressed than usual.

I pointed out, "No problem, there is a recommended hotel in town, just 1.4 km more. It's on tomorrow's course. We're actually helping ourselves tomorrow!"

There is no hotel there. Everyone we asked said, "nope, no hotel there. See? No hotel." Or something like that.

"No problem. We can stay at the fire station" (traditionally fire stations let pilgrims stay).

One person we'd asked was an old man who was too eager to help and led us to the fire station, which we could see from where we were standing. By led, I mean he drove his car the half block there and waved us over.

The English-speaking fire fighter inside explained that we could shower at the station but we'd sleep in the basement if a church building. Before we could get more useful information such as "where exactly do we go?" And "who do we talk to?", grand father came back and took over the operation. He led us to the church, which we could see from where we were standing. Again, he led us by driving, let's say 5 car lengths, and waving us over. At the church he gave another wave. We took that to mean, "go in the church".

Nobody there.

Back outside, grandpa was still there. He accosted a neighbor who seemed not to want to help him. I was starting to think that he was a well-meaning busy-body who couldn't really help us. Another explanation and more gestures. We waited on the steps of the church, shivering. We thanked him for probably the hundredth time. At this point we wished we knew how to say, "thanks, you've done enough. That is all. You may go now."

I ran back to the fire station and was told to just wait at the church. I was cold so I decided to go into the church but an old woman was just locking up. She led us up the priests house across the street and motioned for us to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, she came back with a key and led us to a church building next door.

She had difficulty walking and I felt horrible watching her struggle on the stairs down to the basement to show us our home for the night-- old dirty mattresses, old dirty blankets, and an old dirty bathroom with only cold (probably old and dirty) water. I was fine but JH and Gyueon were shaken.

This was going to be our first sleeping bag night! "Woohoo", I thought.

"Boohoo", they thought.

We got as settled as we could and set off for dinner. Just as we were about to leave JH realized that we didn't have a key to lock the glass double doors to the building. I was sure there wouldn't be a problem when we went to dinner. I didn't see a problem. Who would think to come in here anyway and go down to the basement and steal our stuff? I wasn't worried.

However this is just the type of situation that stresses JH out immensely. She'll imagine every worst case scenario (except a zombie apocalypse because she has no appreciation for the real danger a zombie outbreak poses) happening all at once.

What if this, what if that? She was driving me crazy.

I deflected everything until we discovered that the door locks automatically, a fact we only discovered because she insisted that we check first. If I had been alone, I would have stupidly locked myself out, but don't tell her that.

That stumped me for awhile. She thankfully shot down my first solution-- I stay, they eat and bring something back for me. I had to really sell my second idea.

Double doors usually have one door locked by pins at the top and bottom so, I sent Gyueon outside,unlocked the pins, closed the door, and told Gyueon to push. With a little extra force the doors opened. JH still wasn't convinced so she tried it. We finally went to dinner.

We walked back a few blocks to the only restaurant we'd seen. Guess who was outside (waiting?)? Nine and a half points for you if you guessed grandpa. He approved of our choice and waved us in.

We ordered food. I don't remember what but I remember that it was very good. JH and I had a glass of wine. We had a little chat about our respective flaws of character.

I generally don't worry about of remember details. As a result, I paint myself into a corner sometimes and have to improvise my way out. I, of course, don't see this as a weakness-- I see it as a strength. For me, planning is not unadvised but plans are usually useless. I don't get stressed out and I get to live a little.

JH tended to obsess over details. It's not enough that we arrive somewhere-- she needs reservations, names, numbers, and back up plans. When things don't go as planned, JH gets stressed and takes it out on my. Not only is planning essential, plans must be followed as accurately as possible. Of course, she sees this as a strength-- we didn't lock ourselves out, whereas I would have.

Anyway, I told her that I had recently (that day) started paying more attention to detail. In fact, I had memorized, almost verbatim, all of the information today, and had only referred to the guidebook twice. I didn't add that it hadn't made any difference-- we still would have ended up in the basement.

She pointed out that she hadn't, for a change, gotten stressed out and snapped at me when plans started failing. In fact, she'd been almost casual about the whole ordeal. To her credit, she didn't rub it in that I would have locked us out. We stated our mutual appreciation of each other's efforts and toasted.

I hoped that nobody had broken into the basement and stolen out stuff.

Grandpa made another appearance, coming into the restaurant to check on us. He went over to a large group of men at a table, trying to join discussion. The two men closest to him subtly turned away from him, shutting him out. Man, nobody likes that guy. He shuffled out.

Back to this basement, we washed up, bundled up, and went to bed. I slept pretty well.

No comments:

Post a Comment