We stayed in a “Catholic British Embassy” hostel last night. The woman that registered us seemed really happy to be able to speak English with us. She said she didn’t know any Spanish and that her, and the other man that worked there, had volunteered their time to run the hostel for Catholic pilgrims in Spain. Though there was only 20 people staying in the hostel, there managed to be an ultimate “snoozer” in the bunch. Her loud Ellie Goulding alarm woke me up four different times before the woman finally got out of bed. “Love Me Like You Do” was completely stuck in my head for the rest of the day.
A Swedish woman offered to take a picture of us as she passed because we looked like we were awkwardly struggling with the timer. We all chatted for a bit and she told us she had been walking over 40 kilometers every day. “45 kilometers is the maximum before I start getting uncomfortable,” she noted. We were astonished because anything over 25 kilometers started really straining our feet. I don’t think that we’re lazy because 25 kilometers is still 15 miles, which is way more than what people walk during the average hike. We have been really impressed by the drive of older people on this trip, however, it’s pretty embarrassing to get passed by people in their 50s, but I guess this is the first thing like this that we’ve ever done, so we’re not really used to it. We realized that there is no such thing as “getting used to” hiking this far every day. Though there is less pain involved now than there was during the first week, I swear it’s impossible to ever become accustomed to walking this often. The muscles can go further and be strengthened more and more, but nothing prevents your feet from bruising on the hard surfaces. Humans are just not meant to walk for miles on in end across concrete.
For some reason the walk took us a lot longer than we had expected, so we were feeling extremely hungry when we got into a little town that was 6 kilometers outside of Sobrado Dos Monxes, our destination. We stopped for menu del dia because, let’s be honest, eating is our favorite activity of each day. The frontal bar was managed by an aging man and the connected restaurant, by his wife as daughter. They catered to the extreme by serving us heaping piles of salad, steak, ribs and fish. We ate as much as we could and packed up to leave while expressing our greatest thanks for the insane quantities of food. Lastly, I went to the bathroom to fill up my camelback water bottle. As I rounded the bathroom corner I thought I heard the tap already running. What I heard was not the sink running, however, it was the old bartender clutching is wrinkly brown penis and peeing with the door wide open in. I ran away as fast as I could and tried to drown out the thought of what I just saw with the remaining bottle of wine we had with lunch.
Sobrado was a really tranquil town, but it was brought to life by all the visiting pilgrims. The albergue was located within a huge monastery that was the focal point of the entire town. When we arrived, the famous church and surrounding monastery were closed for mid-day siesta. Again, we confirmed that there was no reason to start walking really early in the morning, because albergues don’t usually even open until three or four anyways. Everyone was camped out in shaded areas near the church waiting to be let in. It was quite comical to see all the sweaty pilgrims passed out face-down on the lawn.
The 15-person line that we stood in to get beds was full of the stinkiest people I’ve ever smelled. Of course, no one’s sweat smells awesome, but these people projected the aroma of body odor and rotten tacos. A grumpy old man wearing overalls that were tucked into oversized rain-boots, led us to our sleeping quarters. He was not a monk as all the monks wore a certain garb while in public. This man seemed extremely fed up with his duty of escorting foreigners and he was having a really hard time remembering where he placed people in the bunkers. Finally, he found us beds in a cavelike barrel-vaulted space that contained no light or electricity. The old stone walls and ceiling smelled damp and musty alluding to the fact that the church had been around for hundreds of years.
We met up with David and Chloe for some sangria at a local restaurant. It was not really sangria, but more of a mixture of wine and two cups of sugar that settled on the bottom of the glass decanter. We decided to make our own meal for the night thinking we would save some money, but it ended up being more expensive than going out would have been. We bought a gigantic wheel of cheese that I had been eyeing in every store during the trip, crackers, mixed olives, cherries and dried figs to make a beautiful ourdervoure tray for the group. I felt bad at first about bringing the bottle of wine that we purchased into the convent. I figured that if the monks aren’t allowed to enjoy and indulge in alcohol, family life, or sex, then it was probably really disrespectful for us to drink inside their house? The others assured me it was fine, so I snuck the contraband into the church, and ended up going from feeling bad about it to feeling like a badass for drinking in a monastery.
As the light dimmed in the courtyard that we ate in, we decided it was probably time to pack up. Before going to bed, we decided to go on a little evening stroll around the convent. Aria and I went through a little side door that opened into the nave of the church. We were probably not supposed to enter because the rest of the church had been locked all day, but no one was around to get us in trouble and we wanted to explore. There was hardly any light in the church because the sun had recently set, so we had to squint to see across the darkening room. All of a sudden, Aria let out a yelp because she saw the ancient stone casket laying out on the floor across the room from us. Her scream was what scared me the most and we both went sprinting away from the casket and back to safety amongst the other pilgrims. It was a nice little boost in the heart rate before going to bed.
Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato