“Sergio, The Drink Boy” (Ribadeo, Camino De Santiago)

On our way to the albergue in Ribadeo, we stopped at a swanky restaurant on the marina. It was really expensive, so we assumed it would be high quality, but it was the opposite. They served us Spain’s version of Sunny-D Orange juice and some stale chips. Hungrily, we scarfed down the peppered potato chips. When we reached the bottom of the bowl, however, we realized that the black substance was not pepper at all. It was ash from the cigarette butts that laid at the bottom of the bowl. Mortified that we just ate some dirty old man’s breath and butt, we told our waiter. We hoped for a free meal, or at least an apology, but we didn’t even get the later from the uppity man. We felt nauseous for the next two hours and I’m sure it was mostly in our minds, but I think cigarette butts top any other disgusting thing that could possibly be found in restaurant food.

We left the restaurant when a huge crowd of well-dressed men and woman showed up for a private party. The old men at the party were definitely digging our booty shorts, but the Housewives of Ribadeo looked at our hiking outfits in disgust. How dare we show up to their party? It was only 11am when we arrived at the small albergue, but most of the spots were already taken. We quickly set up camp in the only two empty beds that remained in the place. This albergue also had a superb view. One side was built in-ground and the other faced the windy channel we crossed the day before.

The albergue sat high above the beaches that surrounded it on either side. We explored up and down the winding steps to the water in order to figure out where we wanted to station ourselves for the day. Finally we settled on a popular beach with smooth flat stones rather than sand. It wasn’t comfortable at all, but it was by far the most beautiful, and sometimes you have to sacrifice comfort for beauty. There were dozens of old women walking the beach during their siesta. They all had tiny tooth-pick legs and big round bellies. We laughed when we realized that they reminded us of the M’n’M characters. More commonly referred to as the “beer belly,” this intestinal inflammation is actually caused by gluten, which they are absolutely obsessed with here.

We walked up and down the old town’s streets searching for something that was open for lunch during siesta. We’ve unanimously decided that old men here have a serious staring problem. Lets be real, there are creepy old men in every country, but I swear I’ve never noticed it to this extent. In no way are they subtle about it here like they are in the United States. Back home, they glance, look away, glance, look away, glance, then pretend to look away when they’re really still looking at you, and then finally look away for good. Here, there is absolutely no shame in staring. Seriously–you’re drinking beers with your wife, did you burry your manners in the yard with your bone?!

We got back to the albergue in time to witness a young biker being kicked out because there wasn’t enough room. The Albergues are funded by the government, so the owners aren’t too keen on housing more people than what the government will pay for. We felt bad crawling into our beds for a nap as the poor boy set up his sleeping-bag on the lawn outside. However, I’m sure he was probably sleeping better than we were in the dark den of flies. Another extremely necessary invention that has yet to come to Spain is fly-tape. Again, I wasn’t sleeping, but I was lucid-dreaming about how I could combat the buzzing bastards. I jumped out of bed and yelled to Aria, “I had a dream!!” She laughed at me and called me a prophet as I hastily crafted a canopy out of my tapestry. No flies were getting in this genius contraption! With how incredible I felt about my prophetic dream, I can’t even imagine how Noah felt when he dreamt to build the arc before the great flood.

I’m pretty sure it was “Founders Day” in the little town, because the entire city was strung with paper lamps and most people were dressed in pastel colors in the fashion of the time period. Men, especially, dressed so much better in those days. It’s time for a revolution in men’s fashion. Little children and elderly alike dressed in layers of lace, fine leather shoes and funny flimsy hats. Some women took the whole “dress-up” shebang way too far as they carried around fake babies and “burped” them. To top it off, there was a Big Band tooting lots of trumpets and horns on a New Orleans style band-stand in the center of the town square.

Many cute balconied restaurants populated the square and we sat amongst the festive folk to order drinks. We fell in love with our grey-eyed server partly because he was feeding us unlimited mojitos and partly because he was such a beautiful man. He was mulatto and wearing an all-white-linen outfit that made him look like he had just walked off a beach in some exotic place. We secretly named him Sergio and pictured him fanning us by the poolside in Morocco. He spoke absolutely no English, an obvious necessity for this hopeless love story. The only thing standing between the three of us and conversation was… words.

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