“Hotel White House”

We slept so well this morning that we were sure we were the last to wake in the albergue. There were no snoring men this time and we didn’t even wake up to other people getting ready around us. When passed by the birthday girl’s bunk, however, we discovered we were not alone. Her crew was howling late into the night, so it was no surprise that she was still sleeping. She was sprawled out over two bottom mattresses with eyes closed and a big smile on her face. She looked as if she was thoroughly enjoying her make-shift king size bed, but I think she was mostly smiling about the new friend she had snuggling up next to her. This was the first time we encountered PDA on the sleeping porches during the last few weeks, which is pretty remarkable considering the number of couples that make the trek together. Being the birthday girl, she rightfully deserved birthday snuggles.

There was also a biker-gang still present in the albergue when we awoke. The biker guys are usually always the last ones to bed and the last to wake up. We’ve confirmed with several bikers that they usually bike 60-80 kilometers daily, but it takes them far less time to go that distance than it takes us to walk a mere 25 kilometers. Though I’m jealous of their speed, not having to carry a sweaty backpack on their backs, and the wind that hits them as they bomb down hills, I don’t know if I could have made it through the north route as a biker. With all the uphill portions, I would have been off my bike and pushing it too many times. Biker guys don’t tend to really care what other people think, as was made apparent when they tromped in late at night clicking their cleats loudly across the wooden porch floor. They also don’t care for changing garments in the bathroom. I kid you not, I saw one walking around in Borat shorts this morning. I didn’t know they actually manufactured those man-thong overalls.

We passed the millionth above-ground cemetery and quivered as we imagined how we were walking in-plane with the caskets. The old roofs seemed to be caving in on the ancient bodies, so we walked by as quickly as we could, while holding our breath according to our superstition of graveyards. Amidst all the hellish dogs we’ve passed, finally we came across a little guy that changed our mind about the dog-race. He was a tiny white puppy with floppy brown ears and a spindly little tail walking freely amongst three chained-up monsters. Despite the other dogs yanking at their tethers, we stopped to play with the little guy for half an hour. When we had to say goodbye, he lurched his head to one side, whimpered and stared after us with sad longing eyes. For that singular moment, I wanted to be a dog-owner.

We arrived at the albergue before it opened so we sat outside chatting with a girl from Greece, Chloe, and a guy from Lithuania, David. We’ve talked with them a lot the last few days because the four of us have been taking the trail pretty slow, so we always end up at albergues together. With the couple, we got into some pretty deep conversations about war, religion, spirituality, national debt and all our futures. We asked Chloe to talk about her opinions on Greece pulling out of the euro, since that has been all the rage in the news lately. She said that Greece is very stubborn and they know they have most of the European Union eating out of the palm of their hands in the situation. Leaders from many countries have written up contracts to help Greece, but their president refused many generous offers. “He wants more, but beggars can’t be choosers,” said Chloe. I don’t know much about the topic since we’ve been so out of the loop without Internet. While in Spain, we’ve gotten our worldly information only through word of mouth. Chloe also said that Grecians call president Obama “the world president,” in their native language, because they like him so much. Hearing that was a nice change from previous political opinions regarding the United States.

Two men joined us with what sounded exactly like our Canadian family’s accent. We were mistaken in our guess, however, and they were actually both Irish architects. They joined in our political conversation and asked whether Donald Trump was seriously running for president or whether it was all a sick joke. We told them that we asked the same question when we both first found or he was a candidate. The whole idea actually really scares me because though people say, “Oh, he’ll never win,” money really does talk. The Irish guys laughed hysterically at themselves when they mentioned that Trump would bulldoze the White House in order to build luxury condos and hotels. We went to lunch with the Irish jokesters and translated the menu for them while a guy popped his food blisters at the table behind me–appetizing. Though we didn’t touch the basket of bread the waitress brought us, we were charged for it. This was the third time a Spanish restaurant had charged for bread without asking if we wanted it. Is that fair?!

The Mormon boy from the night before caught up with us during lunch with the Irish guys. He was from Utah, obviously as a Mormon, and he had traveled with friends into Idaho on a regular basis. He confided that McCall, Idaho, may be the nicest place he’s ever been to even though he was very well traveled. I agreed with him and we both decided that Disneyland is a fraud–McCall is actually “the happiest place on earth.” He had to poke some fun at the Idaho potato factor however. Since we questioned his Mormon beliefs, he rightfully questioned our obsession with potatoes. He made fun of the fact that Idaho schools get a two week break off school for potato harvest. This was actually news to us, and we had to check his facts with a google search. It turned out to be very true that some schools still honor the potato harvest, and we were quite embarrassed of this proof of our stereotype.

We couldn’t really catch a break from the fingers that pointed at us back at the albergue. We sat in our bunk beds as the sun started to dim while the Irish guys chuckled at American television shows. They asked if anyone actually watched the Kardashians and we sheepishly replied that the rumors were true: American television lacks taste lately. Did you also know there’s a show called “Finding Bigfoot” that’s on its eighth season, yet they still have not found Bigfoot? I don’t know how you keep people entertained for eight seasons without finding anything! The Irish guys were rolling around in their beds laughing when we told them about the show Naked Dating. We got shushed by a few people on the porch because we were being too loud during quiet hours, so we all zipped our lips and headed straight for bed.

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