The Climb:

Thought we knew it was going to be a really long walk and a really hot day, we all slept in again. Finally, we had to wake Antwon up because he was still happily snoring at 9:00am. Obviously, sleeping-in while on the Camino isn’t like sleeping-in in the real world. It’s impossible to sleep past nine here because I swear there is no such thing as air conditioning and everyone else in the hostel seems to make as much noise as they possibly can starting at the crack of dawn. Francie gave me some ear plugs to try, but I took them out almost as soon as I put them in. I really dislike the feeling of anything entering my ears, and no ear plugs will ever be able to dull the things we’ve heard on the porches.

We finally left Villivivicosa at 10am because Antwon begged us to wait with him until the tobacco shops opened. Though we had an extremely long day ahead of us, we waited with our friend and enabled his habit. Within the first hour of walking, we had hiked 400-meters up a narrow winding path. The trail was so steep that the weight of our backpacks felt like they were going to make us fall backwards down the hill. We had to stop and take a few breaks while climbing the hill because it was so intense. In fact, Aria thought she was developing asthma for the first time in her life.

We decided to cut the 33km peregrination in half to rest our feet and eat. There was only one small town nestled between our starting point and our destination. The restaurant, however, was a huge hit for such a small town. They were known for their 4-kilogram burgers. The monstrous things didn’t sound so appetizing at this point, so we shared a mixed salad and pot-roasted lamb. Since we’d already traveled over 16km, we debated taking a nap under a tree in the vast yard of the restaurant. Though the idea sounded sublime, we all knew we’d never be able to get up again once finding comfort in the perfectly manicured grass.

After five minutes of being on the road again, we came to the base of yet another daunting hill. The second climb was even more horrible because we were so full from lunch. Full bellies, extreme heat and intensive hill-climbing do not mix. Aria rolled her ankle on the way up, I pulled my calf muscle and Antwon wined about wanting to throw up from heat exhaustion. All in all, we were all quite miserable during the last half of our trip.

The outskirts of the city of Gijon was 33km from our starting point. However, we walked 5 more kilometers to the center of the city to find wifi so that we could look up a place to stay. We went to an outdoor “chocolateria,” but the only chocolate item they offered was churros with chocolate dipping sauce. The title was definitely a misrepresentation, but we had to order two sets of churros because they were just too good to stop at one order.

We thought that the albergue was outside of town in the opposite direction, but it turned out that we had unknowingly passed it. There were several hostels in the area, but with the three of us it was cheaper to get a hotel room for three people. We found a really good deal online and booked it right away. Talking to the man at the front desk was even more difficult than usual in our state of fatigue. Aria and I always start panicking during Spanish conversations. Her panic signal is flailing her arms wildly in hopes to act out what she’s trying to say, and my signal is completely ignoring the person I’m talking to and blankly staring at Aria in hopes that she will be able to clean up my mess. Usually neither strategy really works.

Finally they let us into the “discount” room on the top floor. The elevator didn’t even reach this floor, so you get the gist of the quality. When we got to the eighth floor, it was entirely dark. We made our way down the hall and to our room by sliding our hands along the hallway walls. It took us far too long to figure out that we needed a swipe-card to work the lights. Though it was Antwon’s last night, we were far too tired for dinner. We turned on the tv and sat staring at it for over an hour before I realized that I understood nothing. When you’re so tired that you don’t realize you’re watching tv in a different language, it’s time for bed.

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