Day 2 – The beauty of wine and language barriers

Day 2 – Mercadioro – Hospital Alta de Cruz (16km-ish)

The woman who was sleeping at 3pm when I arrived yesterday left at 5am.  I have no idea why anyone would do that!  I felt slightly guilty waking her up the previous afternoon as I thought she’d had a hard day so was in need of sleep, now I know the real reason and don’t feel so bad after all!  Ah well, she missed breakfast which was at 7 – tea and toast which I discovered later is the standard for breakfast along the Camino.  We were out of there by 8:30 and I walked into Portomarin with the Dutch woman I had spoken to at dinner.  It was downhill all the way to Protomarin – relentless and brutal downhill for 5km.

By the time I got to the bridge heading into the town my legs were shaking from the effort of bracing and my knees were starting to grumble.  The bridge was spectacular although I do not recommend it to anyone with any shred of difficulty with heights as it is rather long and crosses a large, deep river gorge that goes on as far as the wobbly and somewhat disorientated hikers eye can see.  After crossing the bridge and climbing the steps to Portomarin I said goodbye to my Dutch friend and went to seek a cup of tea and some compeede for my irritated blisters.

Sir Isaac Newton could not have been a hiker otherwise his law of motion/gravity would be different.  In hiking, while it is true that what goes up must eventually come down it is also true (and perhaps more important to remember) that what goes down must eventually, and rather painfully, go back up again.  The hill from protomarin was no exception.  I am not entirely sure who decided that Spanish towns must all be either at the very bottom of a hill or the very top and surrounded by other hills but it seems that somewhere along the way someone did.

My pain and injury inventory whilst a little extensive was not life threatening and my only real problem of the day was that all the difficult bits of the walk seemed to coincide with my 3-hourly tablet time.  The Midordine had been working wonders for my blood pressure but I still couldn’t get past the dizzy, lightheaded, vague and confused period between when one pill started to wear off and the other began to work.  I fought through the difficult times by listening to music and arrived at my evening destination at 3pm dancing along and waving my poles  in time to Cee Lo Green’s ‘it’s Ok’ after completely kicking the ass of the previous hill to the tune of ‘F**k you’ which I thought was very appropriate!

I kept seeing Zie German’s (the name I fondly referred to the delightful German family by who had been staying at Mercadoiro with us the night before) all day – I would pass them, then have a break and they would pass me and so on until we ended up at Gonzar for lunch where I finally lost them – I guess I came in for the night earlier than they did and suppose they have a little bit more ‘go’ than me!  Just after I left them I was listening to a song from ‘The Sound of Music’ when I rounded a corner and came across this sight – how perfect it is, the magic of the Camino once again!

Strangely enough when I walked into the dormitory at the municipal Albergue at Hospital Alta de Cruz the woman who left early was asleep there already.  I wonder why on earth she would start so early if she was only going the same distance as me!  The Albergue was interesting, 25 beds all bunks pushed together to form doubles which was a bit odd and while they provided disposable sheets there were no blankets so I was forced to try out my sleeping bag for the first time.  Everyone was crashing for a nap when they arrived so I quietly did some washing (hand-washing as it was 4.5 Euros to use the washing machine and an additional 3 for the dryer – a complete rip-off when you consider it is 5 Euros for a bed for the night as it is a municipal Albergue) and re-taped my joints.  I guess after a glass of red wine or two at the bar next door I wont notice my sore feet and the cold – that seems to be the way of pilgrim life; sweat, blisters and red wine (or Vino Tinto as it is in Spanish)!  But really, what more do you need?!

At the bar I met an American guy who was also staying at the Albergue and we chatted and shared some water and wine.  He had his friends had walked 45km that day – INSANE!!  The also planned to do the same the next day and the next until they arrived at Santiago as they had booked tickets to Rome whilst slightly inebriated without realising it would cut their time on the Camino very short.  He explained that they were in the military which kinda explains it I guess.  He and the bar tender had a chat in Spanglish and he attempted to teach him some more English which was entertaining from both sides.

After a while his friends arrived – The other American guy he was travelling with and a Danish girl they had met along the way who spoke excellent English.  After more wine and general language-related hilarity we decided to have some dinner as we didn’t exactly want to miss curfew and be locked out of the Albergue.  I walked into the dining room and who should be sitting at a nearby table? Zie German’s!  it turns out they didn’t have more ‘get up and go’ than me after all but had chosen to stay at the hostel attached to the bar instead of the Albergue.

Dinner was great and so was the conversation – the wine flowed and the hilarity continued, so much so that the other patrons and staff joined in.  Dessert was a bit of a dilemma as there were so many yummy-sounding options including flan, tart and a cheese platter.  My American friend was curious as to what kind of cheese was on the platter to which a nearby (and rather intoxicated) Spanish local replied ‘Queso del Torros’ (yeah, think about it…) – those of us who got it straight away found it rather amusing as those who didn’t tried to figure it out; um, but, Torros, that’s not quite cow though is it, how do you get cheese from – oh, right…

We made it back to the Albergue just in time for lockdown and hoping to wake up hangover free!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. una
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 07:01:51

    Great account, you should go the forum and post these, one guy is posting a father and son day by day at the moment, yours is a good read.


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