Sunday, February 3, 2013

Day 20, to Rubiaes

I woke up at 5:26 to the sound of nothing. No rain. I stayed in bed not wanting to draw back the curtain, roll up the blinds and look out the window just to see silent rain falling. An hour later, I got up to see. Blue sky! Blind Melon's "No Rain" looped non-stop in my head along with visions of the Bee Girl. I didn't bother Gyueon or JH. She was sleeping well.

She woke up at 8. I opened the curtain. She smiled. Assuming we were staying another day did her to recover, I didn't mention walking.

She got up and announcing that we were leaving so, "get ready."

At breakfast, 2 peregrinos walked by, the first we'd seen since the Brazilians. I wondered if we would meet them tonight at the albergue in Rubiaes.

We confidently packed our rain gear away and crossed the bridge that gave this town its name. With my raincoat off, I can hold my head up and actually see things. The town is unrecognizable in sunlight and I feel a little disappointed that we are leaving. Just a little.

I started thinking about "No Rain" and realized that it wasn't appropriate at all. Just the first line disqualifies it, "All is can say is that my life is pretty plain-- I like watching the puddles gather rain."

My life is far from plain. I'm walking from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostella, fer crying out loud. Secondly, I do not like puddles nor do I like watching them gather rain. It's just another obstacle.

Suddenly another song blasted into my head. It made such an exuberant entrance that it didn't even notice that it knocked "No Rain" right off the stage and into a puddle that had gathered a lot of rain. "All I can say is blub blub…"

It twirled, out stretching its arms in love and sunshine, not noticing that it knocked Bee Girl into the drink as well. And the song started, "I can see clearly now, the rain has gone…"

We were feeling good. Finally this was going to be an easy drama-free day. We can overcome any obstacles in our way.

As you know, this is the camino, and, if you've been following my story, there are no easy days. Within 15 minutes we could already see our first obstacle and there was no way around the knee-deep water in the road. We looked right and left. Considered going through. Ahead, up on a hill, we saw the peregrinos from breakfast. We called out, "how?"

They signaled to turn around and follow the road. I was still humming "I can see clearly" but I had a feeling "no rain" was crawling out of the puddle. We followed the road, trying to go east as soon as possible to find the camino again. We were still in a collective good mood and had fun 'recalculating' in our best huffy car GPS voices. We passed the hill that the others had been on. Obviously, they had not gone around and they had looked dry. How did they get across?

Back on course! 25 minutes later under a highway, we saw another obstacle in our way in the form of another impassable flooded road. I looked for a 'partially collapsed bridge' that the guide book said was directly east. Nothing but a river bursting over its banks. If there was a bridge in there, I couldn't see it.

Immediately JH wanted to backtrack. I hate backtracking. We'd already done it once and I wanted to explore other options first. Besides, it was 15 minutes back to the previous road.

I looked west and saw nothing obvious. We considered balancing on top of the stone fence posts and jumping like cats all the way. After 5 posts, I knew it was impossible.

I checked west again and found two options. One down a wooded path, the other on a gravel road parallel to the highway. I was sure the first one would work out but got outvoted. We went west for a long long time. Finally we cut north on an asphalt road, then east. Just as we were starting to doubt the whole thing, we found a yellow arrow. Until lunch, we stayed on asphalt, replacing the yellow arrows of the camino with the yellow lines of the road. After lunch, there were no alternatives.

At lunch, JH barely ate. How can she even walk today?

The trail was spectacular after lunch, that's how. It was up and over a wing of a mountain. Today felt like hiking-- a real trek. Not only did we have a view from the top, it was gorgeous.

We reached our destination, Albergue Escola which I've secretly renamed Albergue Shithole-a because it's a filthy place, unsuitable for humans. JH knew immediately but she's the girl who cried wolf so I didn't really agree. At first.

The light was on so we went in. Nobody was around so we investigated. Kitchen equipped with stove, fridge, pots, pans, and dishes? Dirty, but yes.

Beds and blankets? Yes and no.
Heater? No
Bathroom and shower? Yes but locked.

It was a huge building but we could only get into the dirty kitchen, abandoned reception area, filthy lounge, and dusty dorm on the second floor. The other wing, presumably where the showers and bathrooms were was locked. We each tried the door several times.

Still feeling confident, we walked 500 m down the road to a restaurant to get a key that the guidebook says it has. A man gave us a key and said someone will come in one hour. Feeling even more confident, we bought groceries, took them back and waited. And waited. Over two hours. It was cold and we started noticing that the place wasn't just dirty-- it wax filthy and there was mold everywhere. In the fridge was a plate of uncovered cooked rice, rotting. This is not good.

The peregrinos from the morning appeared. We introduced ourselves. They are from Spain. Fernando, the younger one speaks 5 languages but English is his weakest. His friend, only Spanish. No problema.

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