“Ain’t No Flies On Me” (Arzua, Spain)

Nora scared us by telling us the story of that American girl that recently went missing on the Camino. Though people are still searching for her, the bleak truth, Nora said, is that wherever she is, whether kidnapped or at the bottom of a cliff–the girl is undoubtedly dead. She said that people going missing here is a lot more common than the media portrays. A young blonde friend of hers had recently been stalked and attacked while on the French way. This girl was walking alone and noticed that a car had been circling back and forth along the road she walked. When she came to a tunnel, she saw the car parked but still thought nothing of it. After she crossed through the tunnel, a man with a walking stick passed her on the path going the opposite direction. The moment he passed her, he wrapped his arms around her body and tried to feel her up. She screamed and flailed her arms and legs in order to get the attacker off of her. He jumped in his car and drove away, leaving no evidence of the incident and the police told the woman they could do nothing about it because he didn’t fully “rape” her.

We passed by a sweet old woman picking plumbs off of a yellow-plumb tree in yer yard. We said hi to her and she immediately rushed over and handed us handfuls of freshly picked plumbs over her perfectly-trimmed hedge. People are very willing to help pilgrims, and most people have been extremely generous to us along the way. The Camino is definitely highly respected in all areas of Europe, especially Spain. Someone even said that people in Europe put it on their resumes when applying for jobs because it proves that you have drive, commitment and motivation. It seriously does take so much drive to wake up every morning and walk 15 miles with blisters, sunburns, bruised soles and tendinitis. I wonder whether it will ever reach such a high regard within the United States?

During the last five kilometers of our walk, Aria noticed that a guy had passed us twice in his little beater car. When we witnessed him pass a third time, Aria became very worried. She picked up a big rock on the side of the road and carried it in her hand for safe measures. Though Nora had put a little fear into our minds, I was not so concerned about this shrimpy weirdo driving around. I told Aria that he probably didn’t have internet or television, so the only activity he could do for fun was drive around and look at pretty girls walking the Camino.

Aria was happy to finally reach Arzua so she didn’t have to carry her rock anymore. We entered the city from a really slummy area, however, and it probably would have been a good idea to keep the rock in hand. The streets were covered in demonic graffiti that rendered rats, zombies, and death in bright swirling colors. These creepy murals and the state of the buildings in the area made it seem like the “projects” of Arzua, and we hoped the entire town wouldn’t have these bad vibes. We began to sing that really annoying, yet hilarious/genius song, “hide yo kids hide yo wives” to pass the time it took us to get by the ghetto.

We finally rounded a corner into the center of town and the mood was lightened. This was our first time meeting up with the French Way so there were many unfamiliar faces populating the main square and all the restaurants. We checked out the government-funded Albergue and were turned down because they had already reached capacity. Over 150 beds were full, so we began to scope out our other options. Many posters and billboards were plastered over the walls near the public albergue so that people knew where to go being full because meeting with the French way.

Once we establish ourselves inside a hostile we decided it was time to take a nice little nap. There were many other pilgrims that were already napping around us. We got into our top bunks that were touched by a ray of sweet warm sun and started to drift off. Every time we are about to fall asleep, however, the annoying buzzing sound of flies was impossible to ignore. Again, this was an instance that could’ve easily been avoided if the owners of the hostel would simply purchase fly tape. There was no way I could sleep through the incessant creatures’ vibrations, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I grabbed my shower flip-flop and decided that it was time for these horrible creatures to die. I swatted about eight of them right off the bat, but there were some very clever suckers that escaped my wrath. By the time I was done with my killing spree, most of the other pilgrims had been woken up by the commotion, though I don’t think that they were actually sleeping. There’s no way any human could possibly sleep with the shrill buzzing in their ears and the tickle of the little vermin’s feet across their skin.

We walked around the neighborhood in search of a place to get some dinner. It seemed to us that most of the restaurants in Arzua were mostly populated by other pilgrims. There were many little touristy shops and the city had a completely different vibe than that of the small villages along the northern coast. It was completely apparent that we had met up with the most popular Camino route, the French way. The food we ordered was mediocre but the atmosphere and interior design of the restaurant was quite impressive. We grabbed our bill as quickly as we could in order to head back to the hostel. Since we didn’t get a place in the public albergue, it was obvious that there were far too many people walking the Camino. We would have to start going to bed even earlier and waking up earlier in order to beat the crowd and claim a bed.

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