“Frieda Kahlo” (Mondonendo, Spain)

Since we had our very own room, we managed to sleep until the cleaning lady came in. She happened to be the cook at the restaurant we went to the night before. In these small towns, most of the amenities are owned and ran by a single family. Some “towns” along the way have only had a population of five, plus dogs and cattle, but they’re still named and labeled as a town. We felt bad as the woman stared us down with her mop and pail so we quickly peppered our feet with baby powder, packed our bags and headed out the door.

There were many dogs chained up along the day’s journey again. I don’t think I’ve ever been as afraid of dogs in my life as I have been recently. Probably because we just had a near-death experience with the Doberman. Even the tiniest little dog that snarles at us is an immediate threat to our health and we go out of our way to avoid it. We’ve officially discovered why people love their hiking poles so much while on the Camino. The people with poles say that dogs are are very cowardly and that simply pointing your pole at them will make them scatter. We need to find walking sticks.

We stopped in Lourenza because they had a somewhat famous church within the city limits. However, we were distracted from the church by one of the first pizzerias we’ve came across in Spain. We never made it to the church, in fact, and we felt ashamed once we received our meal because it was definitely freezer pizza. Watching the news was a horrible plan because the casualties that occurred at Running of the Bulls were being featured at this time. We gawked and gasped as people were speared with the horns of the angered bulls. In terms of the animal cruelty that goes on and the severe injuries that occur, I really can’t believe its still a tradition.

Our destination ended in Mondonendo, which was a beautiful little town nestled between some green ravines. We stopped at the church in the town square because it was one of the first churches we’d seen with an open door this trip. To us, it’s quite funny that they build these massive expensive churches only to have them sit locked up the entire week except for a mass service on Sunday’s. We walked into this church and were suddenly surrounded by darkness, quite ironic considering we had just walked into a “House of God.” It was so bright outside that it took our eyes a few minutes to adjust to the absence of light within the place. The entire nave was lit only with flickering candles on the walls.

We left he creepy dark church and headed for the albergue up the hill. An old man staggered out of a bar nearby and called to us saying we were going the wrong direction. He hobbled up next to us, smelling strongly of stale beer and took a deep breath in order to tell us where to go. When he exhaled with his first words, we could help but notice the absolute horror found on his mouth. I seriously can’t even describe this guy’s teeth to you, but if I were to try: they were bright yellow in coloration yet you could literally see the blue nerve endings inside each tooth. There was absolutely no way he had ever seen a tooth brush in his entire 81 years of life and he had to have drank a gallon of coca-cola syrup daily. I tried my hardest to look the man in the eye and pay attention to what he was saying, but the only thing I had playing on repeat in my brain was, “I NEED TO FLOSS, NOW!!!”

The albergue was not hard to find on our own, and we both brushed and flossed our teeth twice in a row as soon as we set down our backpacks on our beds. While in front of the mirror, we realized that we had really been slacking on our normal grooming tendencies. On the camino, no one really cares about proper grooming or things of luxury. However, as I stared at myself in the mirror, I began to see Frieda Kahlo staring back at me. I was channeling my inner Spanish/Mexican artist all too well. Or possibly it was Burt and Earnie I was envisioning? I’m not quite sure, but whoever it was, they had to go. So, I finally plucked the brow.

We were supposed to check in at the local police station to pay for our stay and get our passports stamped, however the police station was closed that day. I thought police were always on duty? Apparently not on Sundays in Mondonendo. Two women in the albergue clapped as they realized we would all be having a “free stay” that night. Aria and I looked at our stamped passports and became saddened by the spaces left empty. It finally hit us that our trip was ending so soon, and what once seemed like a lifetime of walking was suddenly only the matter of days. We had less than 200 kilometers left to Santiago, and thus our journey was ¾ over.

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