Indescribable sounds came from the bunk below me the entire night, so I didn’t sleep a wink. The man was literally sputtering, spitting and gargling his saliva while I laid awake for the entire seven-hour period as he slept. When he came into the sleeping room, he smelled strongly of beer and cigarettes, so on top of the snores, I could taste his bad breath as he coughed one of the chunkiest sounding coughs I’ve ever witnessed. He also talked an absurd amount throughout the night, however, it was in a different language, so I couldn’t even be amused by him as I laid awake blinking in the dark. I never knew so many people had sleep-apnea before I started on the Camino, but it seems to be quite the issue in the world.
After the man woke up and left for the morning, we got some much needed sleep. We ended up being the last ones on the porch again, as usual. We decided there’s really no reason to wake up so early. There’s usually plentiful beds, the sun hasn’t been getting too hot, and most of the albergues only open after 2pm anyways. A few times we’ve gotten to the Albergues and had to sit around for three hours before they unlock their doors. Might as well sleeping in later rather than rushing and then having to wait, especially when it’s the only uninterrupted sleep away from the snorts and snarles of snorers.
As we crossed over the hilltops, our slow descent began. We were officially leaving the mountains and beginning to see the flat plains in the distance. Our trip thus far had been quite windy and moist, but we noticed it was getting hotter and drier the more we moved inland. Many inscriptions along the way encouraged us to “keep going” because we were getting close to the finish-line. Seeing the first road-sign for Santiago stirred up a strange combination of excitement and sadness. We had officially entered the last 100-kilometer portion of the trip, and it quickly became real to us that our journey would soon be over. Our guidebooks even warned us of the weird mixed emotions that would be present during the last few days on the Camino.
A procession of cattle came lumbering down the path toward us.
Aria and I scurried to get to higher ground away from the massive horned beasts. We stood still on the bank hoping that maybe if we didn’t move, they wouldn’t notice us. As we watched the animals pass, we realized that they were much more docile than television had made them appear. The cows lifted their heads to view us on the bank and nodded in a way that it seemed like they were all getting a cow-laugh out of our fear. The end of the parade was brought up by a little old man carrying a thin stick to prod the cows. To our embarrassment, his two tiny grand daughters walked by his side and carried their own sticks to help him herd. If a five-year-old isn’t afraid of cows, why am I?
There were two Albergues in town, so we stopped in at the first one we passed. It was very modern and smelled of bleach (a nice contrast to the smell of farts and feet ordinary to most hostels), but it was located in the middle of an industrial park on the outskirts of town. There was a buzzing electric plant right near the albergue, and we decided against getting radiated the entire night. We heeded the advice of the old man and his grand daughters and traveled into the heart of the town to find the other albergue. We were happy with our decision because it was much nicer and had many more amenities than the first contained.
We searched the small town for a place to get dinner and settled in at an old brewery. We were overjoyed to find five-cheese lasagna and cesar salad on the menu. The outdoor portion of the restaurant was packed, so we sat inside for a change. The bar was located in the basement and we claimed a corner table so that we could take off our shoes and spread out without offending anyone. We’ve developed quite the set of table-manners since being here, but I swear there aren’t any rules here. We sat munching our Caesar salad with thick cut bacon and crispy chicken as we watched the bar owner’s children sit at the bar. Like I said, no rules.
Despite our delicious meal, we were feeling down when we got back to the hostel. The last few days have been a little lonely because we haven’t been able to communicate with too many people. The language barrier is always a factor. Aria also just downloaded Spotify, so she’s been plugged into her iPod a lot lately. I’ve been left with only the sound of the birds and my feet hitting the pavement for hours on end the last few days. It’s nice to walk in silence, though, and I like being left alone in my mind sometimes. It’s fun to get lost in a sea of your own thoughts. I’ve really gotten the chance to reflect upon my life in a completely uninterrupted way. If you’re quiet and allow yourself to listen, the wind has some really important things to say.