Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 18, Oh, hail no!

The downpour during breakfast slowed down to just a drizzle when Jacinto dropped us off. JH looked longingly at the car as it drove off.

The great course continued. As beautiful as it is in winter, I can't imagine how it is in non-crappy-weather seasons.

Then we got pelted by rain. Wait, this isn't rain. Hail! Why? It came down, bouncing off our coats and packs, usually getting redirected to our faces. We didn't like it but JH, in a rare moment of glass-fullness, said that it was better than rain. Then Gyueon pointed to some not so distant hills, "and snow". We decided we liked the hail. It passed. Later, we got more, in bigger chunks that packed a bit of a punch. It stopped and so did the rain.

In spite of all the rain, hail, mud, and flooded paths our feet were still dry. JH was feeling even worse but I didn't realize just how bad until now. So far we'd survived: mud, rain, flooding, barking dogs, non-existent accommodations, a very cold night, an alien invasion, an ant invasion, hail, and now a zombie outbreak. JH had joined the ranks of the walking dead.

She asked about accommodations. Sticking to the original plan, and forgetting an earlier discussion, I read the list of choices, insensitively emphasizing the cheap (and probably least comfortable for a sick person) places: a youth hostel, an albergue, then pensaos.

"What about hotels?"
"There's one but it's expensive."
"How much?"
"50", I winced saying it, knowing I'd made a mistake.

She cried. "You don't think I'm worth anything."

I felt worthless. I know we're trying to stick to a budget but really, I was concerned that 50 was too much?

I apologized. All was well. We were going to be warm and comfortable. JH was going to recuperate on our scheduled off-day tomorrow. We enjoyed blue skies for 45 minutes and stopped for a snack.

JH perked up a bit as we got close to Ponte de Lima. We spotted a sign for the Youth Hostel. JH said, "the hotel is across from the hostel. Let's check out the hostel first. Maybe it will be ok."

We followed the sign that took us off course. We found the building but something was wrong. The sign said something else, something about rehabilitation center. That's odd. We asked. It wasn't a youth hostel anymore. She pointed towards town and said a word that made JH wince, "albergue". We did not see the hotel. Looks like that's changed too, into a "screw you guys" center.

Then the skies opened up. Within 10 minutes, we were drenched. The long rain coats had too many holes and were more effective as hooded capes. Even my impermeable coat was breached. It was raining so hard that we couldn't see to cross the streets safely. Did it anyway. Screw you guys!

I couldn't find the pension above the pizza shop. Actually, I couldn't find the pizza shop, if you must know. JH took over the navigating and it turns out that I still can't read simple English.

We found the shop but there was no indication that the upper floors were a pension. We went to the tourist office for HELP!

We mentioned that the youth hostel is closed. They didn't know, made a call, and told us that the youth hostel is closed. Yes, got that, obrigado.

We asked about the pizza shop pension. One woman made a face and said," not good". She recommended 2 places, we took the first one, Sao Joao Pensao, nearby, not feeling confident about the quality.

The woman who runs it was very nice and set us up in a clean cozy room. She brought up towels (yeah!), a space heater, and a clothes rack to set up over it. But wait, there's more! Free wifi! Even better, she did our laundry. She only accepted 70 for two nights.

We had very good pizza for lunch, you know where. JH asked the waiter about rooms for rent. She didn't say it directly but, reading between the lines, those rooms aren't for overnight travelers, I think. We had a very nice room anyway.

Back at the Pensao, we showered and hung the clothes strategically on the rack and around the room. It was raining hard and we didn't want to go out.

But soon Gyueon and I were hungry. Reluctantly JH came with us. After looking at a million restaurants, we finally went to one we'd looked at twice already. I tried a local delicacy, blood sausage and blood rice. I at almost all of it. Now that I've tried it, I never have to eat it again. Gyueon probably had pork. JH just had soup and could barely eat it. It felt like our coldest night yet. We shivered our way back to the pensao and tended to the clothes drying.

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