The rain in Spain actually doesn’t stay mainly in the plain…

Day 7 – Arzua – Arca/Pedroso

So I have decided I am staying in a hotel again tonight – more expensive but I do have my reasons!  Let me explain; I like sleep, I really appreciate it, actually I could go so far as to say that I LOVE SLEEP!  My body also loves sleep and sleep has been a big issue throughout my illness.  So you see, if I was able to lounge around on a beach all day after partying heaps and staying in a poorly ventilated dormitory with 34 others including some that are intent on bursting ear drums and conducting brain surgery with their snoring it would be fine.  I honestly don’t mind staying in a dorm – I’ve done it before and I will do it again, just not tonight…
I have to respect what my body needs if I am going to make it to Santiago and what my body needs (it has told me in no uncertain terms) is sleep.  I really have been pushing it and my body has been showing the effects so I need to be nice to it when I can.

So yes, last night.  I got some sleep in between being freezing cold and then boiling hot once the accumulated  breathing and body heat steamed up the room, then I kept needing to move (moving while trying to sleep is my problem, not snoring and I feel really bad that I might be keeping people awake until a ripper snore (or fart) is let off and then I don’t feel so bad after all), then there were the snorers and the fact that wherever you were in the room the door woke you up when it opened as the light outside was bright as day and the hinges sounded like they were being tortured.

I set out in the rain at 9am.  And this time it was real rain, the rain had decided to be completely committed to its cause and required full wet weather protection as it was relentless in its determination.  I met The Puerto Rican ladies from the night before outside their Albergue (which was right next door to mine) and one joined me as planned, the other had an injury so was having a day off.  It didn’t take long to get out of Arzua and into the countryside and the scenery was beautiful if slightly damp.  One thing I love about Spain is the determination, ingenuity and make-do attitude; so what if it’s raining and my tractor doesn’t have a roof – I have an umbrella
My Puerto Rican friend was a science teacher who wanted to become a priest and we had lengthy discussions about how different life in Puerto Rico was to Spain and even Australia, particularly her neighbourhood where many children do not finish school and end up working as drug traffickers etc.  It is not a life I could begin to imagine coming from a family where it is a given that you finish school and then university and an area where the majority of kids I went to school with finished school or if they dropped out, ended up in an apprenticeship to a trade or working in the family business so they at least had some future employment to look forward to.  I know I have had a privileged upbringing (though not as much as some) and I am not naive enough to think that the whole world of even most of the world is like the one I live in but it is rare to hear these stories first hand if you do not go out and seek them (particularly coming from Australia which is so large and so removed geographically from most of the western world).  That is one of the magical things about the Camino, it calls people from all over the world, from many different backgrounds and dumps them together unceremoniously on a path in the middle of the Spanish countryside – you never know who or what you will find.

We clocked up 19km, quite a decent effort I thought, particularly considering the weather, but the band were playing that night in Arca so she had a deadline.  I had nowhere better to be so tagged along thinking I could stop earlier if I needed to and found somewhere I liked the look of.  I didn’t.  We crossed paths a few times with a group of 3 (one man and two women) with their dogs – very cute and well behaved (the dogs that is), I have no idea what breed they were but they were mid-sized and looked a bit like black shelties only slightly larger.  We also saw my Southern American friend a few times and strolled (damply) into Arca with him.

I don’t know if every day is getting harder or it just feels like that but today was hard – probably because I was starting on very little sleep!  I also might be coming down with a sinus infection – oh what fun!  That and my body is still a bit of a mess what with intermittent tachycardia, the pain in my feet and who knows what going on with my blood pressure, oh and today my knees decided they had been far too well behaved and wanted some attention too.  And I had been really impressed with them up until now, actually I still am, they could be a lot worse.  I swear also that my pack is getting heavier – I know for a fact that that is impossible as it is getting smaller so I am either getting better at packing it or am leaving things behind on my way.  Still, I have walked further today than any other day so far and according to the wayside markers (but not my book) there is only 18.5km left till Santiago.  the question is; do I do it all in one day so i can stop and rest properly sooner or do I do it over 2 easier days?  Nobody can answer that for me and I guess I will just find out tomorrow.

I am not sure about going on to Finisterre now – part of me thinks I have put my body through enough for one year, the rest thinks it would be wonderful to get there under my own steam.  But if the book is to be believed (the jury is still out on that one) there is another 91km or so to Finisterre from Santiago and, to be honest, I really don’t think I can be assed, although it’s not a definite no.

After promising myself some TLC we walked into the first hotel we could find and my friend translated for me – 40 Euros for a room, yeah that’s so not going to happen…
How about I give it to you for 30?  Well that I can work with!  I obviously looked rather pitiful or they were desperate to fill rooms or something but either way I got my room.  Apparently I would love it, it was really nice.  To be honest I can’t actually tell what makes it 10 Euros more than other rooms; it is smaller, there are no extra blankets and it has a shower not a bath.  So what makes a room 10 Euros more along the Camino?  The answer is, apparently, climate control.  I would much prefer a bath!  Actually, I think when I retire I will set up a hostel along the Camino with single room options or smaller dorm rooms (maybe 8 beds) and separate dorms for snorers and early leavers.  Also baths, including a jacuzzi in each shared bathroom or just a really warm pool, a table for unpacking your pack for each bed, hooks to hang up hiking poles, bags of ice available at reception, an in-house pharmacy and nurse on call, clothes washing facilities that don’t cost as much as the room, a restaurant that opens at 5:30pm, massage chairs in the communal room and plenty of water and wine for everyone.  I like that plan, it’s a good plan.

The dog people are also staying in the hotel and I think the dogs are in the basement.  I can hear them howling up the stairwell which is acting like a sound conductor and amplifier and is right next to my room.  I can hear them as if they were next door.  Oh, the dog people are actually next door and having a very good time indeed – how do they have the energy for that after walking all day?  Um, think I might go for a walk or something, away from here – conveniently I know of a Puerto Rican band that is playing nearby.

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