They did it! El abuelo y el tio y el padre (the grandpa and the uncle and the father) made it to Salamanca – no more walking for them!
It should be a victorious day, but el tio is hobbling and el abuelo seems uncertain if he even has a pulse any more. Even though the walk was mostly downhillish, it was too long to be comfortable for the oldies after yesterday’s slog. And to compound the issue, when we arrived at the albergue, we discovered we were allowed only to drop our bags and not return until opening time at 5pm. All Grandpa wanted to do was lie down and sleep, but we had to fill in five hours – and it was cold. There were only eight people walking around Salamanca in shorts – everyone else had longs and knee-high boots and scarves and winter coats on!
We found a bar to warm up in, but even that did not brighten any spirits. The coffee was bad and the chocolate cold….and to top it all off, it turned out to be expensive!
Instead of victory parades and feelings of accomplishment, there was a general moping around the main square hoping the sun might shine until we could check in to the albergue. (For once I found some tact and just sat with everyone else even though I was feeling full of energy and was eager to go exploring – the city was humming and there are so many beautiful old buildings, but we have a couple of rest days here and the cathedrals and churches are not going anywhere I told myself)
Checking in did not make anyone much happier, because we found ourselves in a place full of rules and regulations. Don’t take backpacks upstairs to the dormitories, don’t wash clothes in the laundry sink, don’t fiddle with the stamp, don’t put any washing outside, don’t lean your hiking poles against the chair, take your shoes off before you walk over here, you must go to bed at 10pm – no sitting up in common areas…
To make things even worse the adults reached the decision that going out for the promised (and looked-forward-to-by-the-children) victory dinner would not happen tonight as planned…and breakfast had been nothing more than one segment of mandarin, two mini-muffins and two dry biscuits.
And……most of the kids have bedbug bites!!!
Now all this sounds pretty grim, but everyone is currently happily playing cards (amazing what a hot shower, sleep and dinner can do)…and actually it was a delightful walk. Frogs were ribbitting, small birds were chirping and tweeting and trilling and singing, cuckoos were calling, cows lowing, wild flowers blooming spectacularly….and we were walking. I am biased because I felt I could fly today. But El Tio Craig’s pictures from the day confirm my feelings:
Distance: 24km Total distance: 422km
Some moody morning shots from Rob’s phone: