“There have been so many adventures today!” So thought Ella-Rose when we had been on the road for just a few hours.
We had started the day with emergency food supplies consisting of a bag of peanuts, a huge loaf of two day old bread, seven slices of cheese and five oranges. Because today was Sunday there was a possibility nothing would be open and these rations would have to see us to lunchtime tomorrow. Additionally, breakfast had hardly been substantial – a tiny (but delicious and juicy) apricot and two little cupcakey things each. When we passed a truck stop we augmented our supplies with a packet of chips and some cheap-and-nasty packaged chocolate croissants (they sound much better than they actually are!) We were grateful.
In the village we saw Guiliano signaling that a bar was open halfway along the street. We went in and asked the lady if she had any tortilla de patatas, even though we knew she wouldn’t at that hour of the morning. She offered to make some and we were even more grateful.
Feeling full and happy that we had ended up with a great breakfast, we trotted off through the village. A waft of panaderia hit us all at the same moment and when we reached it and saw it was just opening we regretted being so prepared on Friday. The fresh bread looked phenomenal – there was even rye like we make at home. We refrained from buying more bread, but did take the five chocolate croissants – these ones are a world apart from the ones we had bought at the gas station. Despite having just eaten, we polished them off immediately and knew that our rations would be enough, and we would remember the morning delights when the chewy crust seemed dry at dinnertime. As it turned out, a bar was open at our day’s destination and so we shared a little empanada for lunch and felt like kings. (Dinner was as dry as expected).
The other adventures had nothing to do with our stomachs. At one point Ella-Rose, who was walking at the back, saw an arrow that everyone else had missed and so we backtracked and followed her road. Just as it was coming to a deadish end and I was looking around for another arrow, Levi cried out. “There’s a deer here. I nearly stood on it!” Sure enough, he was just a meter away from the little panting creature that was lying still with its eyes open. I looked around for signs of an agitated mother, but could see nothing. Going back along the track (we decided to backtrack to the infamous arrow and take a second look which revealed another enormous arrow made of stones on the ground pointing in a different direction, which tends to indicate someone else may have made the same mistake as us) little mice darted out and you could hear them rustling in the fallen leaves. Rabbits scurried by and big stones took on the appearance of cows. We were thoroughly enjoying the walking when Levi’s shoe broke. It now has a decided punk look, being held together with pink nappy pins.
This was about the moment Ella-Rose made her adventure observation. But we were not done. We were about to run out of water. It was hot and we still had a few hours to go. Suddenly a village came into view and I asked the first (and only) person we saw if there was a fountain with potable water. We commented on how it is so much nicer this time in Spain because we can communicate with people. Following the directions we think we’ve understood gives pretty quick feedback – in this case, success! At the fountain two men came striding up quickly and loudly. Spaniards. They filled their bottles and we had a quick chat before they took off. Another forty or fifty of them would be following, and would all be wearing yellow scarves. Even before we left the fountain the first ones appeared, assuring us that, again, we certainly had understood. We picked these guys to be day trippers – they didn’t have the steady quiet pace of the walking-for-many-days crowd and they were carrying tiny day packs. (Later we would notice the women all had full faces of make-up on too!) Very soon we came to a hill and we continued at our steady quiet pace. Without trying, we gained on the two guys who had slowed considerably. A little competitive streak must have kicked in for the kids and they changed gear and flew past the men. It took the two guys by surprise, but once they had got over the shock, one of them decided to catch up and keep pace with the kids. He lasted less than five meters! When I caught them I decided the prudent thing to do was to slow to their pace and chat. Indeed they were day trippers. They were from a Camino Association in Leon and had been dropped off by bus that morning and would be picked up at the end of the day. They would all be going back to work in the morning, but love getting out to walk one stage at the weekend. For me the adventure was that I started feeling really quite comfortable with Spanish. For the first time I understood everything that was said. My replies were a complete hack, but as the guy said, he could understand what I was saying, which is key. And we even managed to joke together. We really were having quite the adventure.
The boys (at the time of writing) are also hoping they will be allowed to go to the adjacent bar and watch the football game on the big screen tv later. If it’s anything like the procession we waited up to see last night, I don’t like their chances. Last night the event was supposed to be at 9:30. Two bus loads of people were trucked in for it, so it was obviously a big occasion, but as we had to be up with the birds, we hit the sack when nothing much has happened after an hour of waiting. Singing on the streets started in earnest about midnight and lasted until just before we got up!