Day 33 (28km)
Arzúa – Lavacolla
Last night we decided that we will sleep into 8 am and take our time getting on the road in the morning. At 0730 we are catapulted awake by a self elected sleep monitor who decided that 0730 was enough sleep for EVERYONE! He starts shouting, “Levántate! Despertarse! Levántate! Despertarse! ” (Get up, wake up), and flips on all the lights. I cover my head, and he walks to the foot of my bed and yells again, and adds that “they” are going to kick us out at 8am, and that I need to get up, NOW. Paul sits up and says, “Dude, what is your problem?!”. He then proceeds to insist that Paul get up as well. All but this character, and two other people (who have already left) of the 16 in this room, were still lounging in slumberland before this crazy Spainard decided he was the albergue sleep police. I made the mistake of flipping up my eye shade when the crazy Spaniard started yelling and turning on the lights, so there was no use even remotely attempting to fall back to sleep. The grumbling masses arose like the walking dead, and shuffle off to the bathroom or begin stuffing their packs for egress from the albergue…before 8am. By the time we were all packed up, and wandering out the door, not a single employee of the municiple albergue had arrived to “kick us out”…and it was 0815. In fact, we left well before the spandex clad crazy Spaniard. WTF?! As is our custom to walk to coffee, we are disappointed to find our first opportunity for coffee thwarted by a just arrived and unloaded purple bus load of tourigrinos. Arrgh! Thus, the walk to coffee this morning was much longer than expected. The droves of people on the trail today was epic. No one was in a “hurry”, but eyes were firmly set on finishing by days end for most.
Rain is forecasted for later in the afternoon, so thoughts of doing another 30+KM and becoming soaked once more are out of the question, so our sights were on Lavacolla.
Our coffee stop came after nearly 12km, at an eclectic café/bar that served excellent café con leches and actual omelettes reminiscent of home.
We make a “lunch” stop for our signature jamon y queso bocadillos (dry) and grande cervesas, just outside of O Pedrouzo, where most people “lay up” with 19.8km left to Santiago.
Here we run into people we last saw in Belorado. They are finishing up and plan to walk into Santiago this evening. Once rested and satiated we continue on.
The tread turns soft and the trail travels through thick groves of tall eucalyptus. The air is sweet and reminds me of “health food” stores back home.
Soon signs of “civilization” appear with more frequency. Fast moving cars, tight clusters of homes, jet airplanes overhead and a paved path, accompanied by sounds of the “city”, creep into our once quiet and peaceful journey. It is both exciting and annoying.
Signs announcing the “countdown” to Santiago appear.
With a little less than 12.5 KM to go, we hold up in the town of Lavacolla, at the last possible place to stay. Not wanting to walk down hill (and then back up the next morning to the trail) we check into a private hostel for more Euros than we have paid in a long while. It is actually cheaper than the “downhill” hostel (Paul checked), and we will have our own bathroom, so we take the room. Turns out however that, while the hostel’s bar is functional, its kitchen is “out of order” and we have to walk down hill (and back up) to the hostel we were trying to avoid in the first place, to get dinner. I have to say one thing about Spain and its “trades”. It appears that the electricians, plumbers and tile/framer guys don’t collude when building or furnishing a structure. There is NOTHING ergonomic about their kitchen and especially bathroom designs and installation of appliances. Case in point…our room. There is only one working electrical plug, of which a non functioning space heater is plugged into. The light switch for the room is on the far wall, across from the door. The light switch to the restroom is outside the restroom, near the room’s entrance (which thinking about it now, maybe was a good idea). Inside the bathroom is a good sized shower with the shower wand head at the appropriate height. It however, has a square shower pan, in a triangle space. The “left over” triangle space was tiled over, creating a ridge up from the shower pan. The shower curtain is not wide, nor long enough. As such, the curtain hangs four inches from the top of the shower pan edge and a good two feet from the wall that narrows and has created the triangle space. The hot water valve, that is normally recessed and insulated behind our shower walls, is exposed, but encased beautifully in chrome with a handle. Paul took the first shower. When he exited the shower, (laughing) his only words were “good luck, watch your step”. I enter the bathroom. It is bathed, in entirety, in water. Not a single surface is dry, and that includes the toilet seat. I gingerly wade through a puddle that has formed at the edge of the shower in the triangle “corner”. I note that where the shower wand is perched, it is tall enough for me to stand comfortably underneath without having to employ any contortions, which also means I can use two hands (at the same time) to wash my hair. I turn on the shower and immediately understand how it is that the toilet, four feet away, got completely soaked. The gasket for the shower head is folded or creased allowing pressurized water to spray forcefully over the single glass wall shower enclosure. I watch in amazement as it arches over the glass, bounces off the wall and rains on the toilet(and toilet paper). I grab the shower wand off its perch and try and face the spray towards the glass wall, then realize that the shower curtain does not actually extend all the way to the wall. I turn to face the glass wall and the curtain, and raise the wand. As I do this, I back up in an effort to keep the splashback from escaping from the bottom of the too short curtain. Once I do this, I am immediately “branded” by the exposed hot water valve and simultaneously drop the shower wand. Water now sprays into the triangle corner and the water slides down the tile and onto the floor, rather than being sloped and directed into the shower pan. Awesome. Now I know where the pool of water came from. I turn off the water, to soap up. Before I turn the water back on, I bend over to pick up the wand from the shower pan floor, and am “branded” once again. I turn on the water and while rinsing, do my best to corral the wayward water, escaping from the faulty gasket, from bouncing off the wall or the ceiling, or over the curtain. This may also explain why the electrical outlet in the bathroom does not work. What I had hoped to be a long and glorious shower, became a sailor’s shower. I reach for my once dry towel, and now understand what Paul meant by, “good luck”. After hobbling back from dinner of amazing Galacian “stew”, we retire for one last night on the Camino. Sleep comes quickly, even if the double bed upon which we rest feels no different than if we were sleeping on the floor… just cleaner.
Be Strong! Austin Strong!
The end is near! Peace, Paul and Dee. I have enjoyed your Camino writings. I want to do it someday, also.