Bounce-House Mania:

The albergue in San Vicente was in the basement of a really old church. The place was definitely haunted and I tossed and turned all night trying to sleep. Mosquitoes buzzed around my ears and I kept smacking my ear to rid myself of the horrible creatures. I think I slept for a total of maybe thirty minutes the entire night as the springs from my broken mattress stabbed me in the back. An creepy Italian guy, rumored to be homeless, had joined us in the hostel yesterday. We all thought he must have had a mishap with hard drugs in the past because he seemed very off, talked to himself and twitched. He was as skinny as a rail, had shoulder-length messy dreads and eyes so blue they were almost clear. I awoke at 3am this morning to his silhouette sitting up in bed and chuckling.

Antwon had switched beds several times in the middle of the night because he said his other bed was too “itchy.” Along with us, some other people staying in the albergue said they also had felt the itch. We all concluded that this place had bed bugs for sure, which is literally Aria’s greatest fear in life. Of all the hostels we’d stayed in this far, this one was by far the dirtiest. Feeling dirty and sleepless, we sipped our cold coffee along with a cute couple from New Zealand. The man looked exactly like a 40-year-old version of Jonathan, so it was really strange sitting across from him and hearing his accent. My boyfriend is going to age like fine red wine. 😉

Aria and I set out on the road for Unquera, only 17 kilometers away, because we need to slow down our trekking pace. We have so much time left and have gone nearly 1/3 of the way in the last 12 days. We plan on getting to Santiago on the 25th of July because it’s Saint James Day. We’ve been told that we absolutely need to be at the church of Saint James on Saint James Day. There’s supposedly an insane party for all the pilgrims to celebrate and conclude their journey.

Unquera was an adorable little town on a scenic river. As we drank our Cokes with lemon, we watched hundreds of kayaking kids float by in a summer camp. We had picked up two stragglers along the way, one from California, and another Hungarian guy that was weirdly also named Atila. Antwon decided to travel with the boys for the day, so we said goodbye to him at the bar. They were going to stay in Pondueles for the night, but that was too far for us girls. We made a pact to meet in Llanes the night after. We’ve began to think of Antwon as a little brother, and he obviously felt the same because as he left, he looked back fifteen times with puppy-dog eyes.

Aria and I felt like we hadn’t exerted ourselves enough that day, so we decided to walk an extra 3km to the town of Colombres. The hostel in Colombres had 120 beds and communal dinner, so we figured it would be a fun way to spend the evening. However, when we walked into the alebergue, the woman told us they were already at capacity. We were appalled that 120 beds were already full because most of the Albergues we’d been to barely filled 20 beds. Apparently the children we saw rafting in Unquera were all being housed at this albergue.

We only had two options: either backtrack and stay in Unquera, or keep going to the town of Pondueles where the boys were staying. We made the bold decision to keep going though we’d already walked around 23 kilometers. It was supposed to be 10 more kilometers to Pondueles, but we accidentally got side-tracked on a trail that hugged the coast for an extra seven kilometers. We were absolutely over-exhausted in the extremely hot sun. At one point, Aria was basically sprinting ahead of me. I asked her how she still had so much energy and she said, “I just can’t stand to be in these boots any longer, so I’m trying to get there as fast as I can!”

After walking 40 kilometers that day, we finally stumbled into the Pondueles albergue. Our feet felt broken, our muscles were throbbing and we could feel each heart beat in our blisters. Once we showered, napped and ate an incredible meal provided by the inn-keeper, the pilgrims decided to go to a local pool-hall. All the boys were in disbelief when Aria and I had a better shot than them. They said European girls don’t play pool, and Antwon called us ratchet–a word we introduced him to along the way. There was a bounce-house that Aria and I took advantage of outside the pool hall. Once four grown men joined in our fun, everything went downhill. As the house collapsed, Aria and I dove through the entry door to save ourselves from a horrible fate of suffocation. We fixed the structure before anyone knew anything was wrong, paid our tabs and got the heck out of there.

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