The zip on my sleeping bag is broken and as we were in a ‘donativo’ albergue, there was no blanket or sheets. I froze. We had to have the window open because the plumbing in our bathroom was not working and I lay awake all night wondering what diseases I was contracting from breathing the sewerage vapours. By morning, I could taste it, and couldn’t wait to get out of there.
We left at daybreak. No sunsets for days now as we have left the sunshine behind, and once again, we had difficulty finding the arrows to lead us on.
The walk was interesting and quite flat like the meseta on the Frances. Colleen has recovered and we were excited to get back out onto the path and breathe fresh air again.
We stopped off at the ruins of an 11th century forte and ate a picnic lunch, and then walked on until we reached a town with a bar (about 19 kms). We should have walked straight out when we felt the vibe, but I was so taken aback, I just crumbled in disbelief. The bar was empty except for the owner and his caged budgies. He is obviously a hoarder as well, as the shelves were covered completely with crappy ornaments etc. the walls were adorned with signs forbidding people to take photos, ‘put backpacks against the wall’, ‘don’t feed the birds’ etc. the man took one look at me and started yelling as if I had just insulted his mother. I hurriedly took off my backpack, placed it in the corner and dutifully sat down at the wonky laminated table. I ordered a coke, and Colleen ordered a Coke Zero. It was too much for him. He slammed a can of coke down in front of me and pretended he didn’t know what Colleen wanted. Eventually he went to a fridge and pulled out a dodgy looking unlabelled bottle and poured her a glass of black liquid. We drank quickly and in silence. I went to the counter to pay and he over charged us by 2 euros but I didn’t dare say anything, and just handed him a 5 euro note because I didn’t have the correct amount. He yelled at me again!! He pretended he didnt have any change and was hoping we would leave and not bother, but we stood our ground. He huffed and puffed and eventually gave me my change in 5 cent pieces. What a prick!!! We read later in the guidebook that this bar should be visited to see just how low things can get and how not to run a bar. It was a little Basil Fawlty-ish.
We had done nothing wrong. He was just a miserable old sod who hates pilgrims! No wonder his bar was empty. When we left, he stood in the doorway to glare at us even more. Colleen took his photo but it didn’t work out! We marched off up the road, wondering what the hell that was all about, and found ourselves in a cloud of flying ants!!!
We had noticed thousands of large black ants milling about atop their enormous nests, and suddenly, we were surrounded (as Colleen said, by a plague of biblical proportions)! We ran for about 2 kilometres through clouds of flying ants, swatting them out of our hair and brushing them off our clothes. Birds flew around us trying to catch them and I felt like I was in an Alfred Hitchcock movie! It was awful!!!! (Was too busy running to take photos)
Anyway, we finally found ourselves at a truck stop where we sat to eat and drink, then we wandered into town to find lodgings for the night. We met a new pilgrim there, Ruth from Ireland, and then our handsome Brazilian,Renato, arrived. We also have a young German bike rider called Bjorn in our room. We all had dinner together in the bar and are now in bed.
Oh, and I flooded the bathroom when I had a shower as the plumbing here is also really bad and the drain was blocked!!!
So, it was a good day and a bad day today! We completed the Via de la Plata and tomorrow we begin the Sanabres trek which leads us over towards Portugal and up through the Galician mountains to finish in Santiago. It will be quite a challenge.