We started the morning off by going to a health food cafe and ordering fresh juices. Aria’s juice was a little too far on the earthy side for my taste preferences. Her’s was beet, carrot, kale, blueberries and acai berries and mine was pineapple, apple, ginger. The nutrients felt great in comparison to the bread and jam we’d been eating for breakfast, however, we still felt really hungry. To balance our diet, we needed the stark contrast of an insanely huge freshly glazed doughnut that we picked up on our way out of town. I’ve never really enjoyed doughnuts in the U.S., but Spanish doughnuts are a different breed.
Our guidebook literally told us to “take the bus” from Gijon to Aviles, but we figured the walk couldn’t be THAT bad. Actually, it was quite terrible. The only sight we saw for almost three hours was ugly industrial buildings that were polluting the air with exhaust from their stack-towers. We didn’t get off the asphalt highway for the entire 25-kilometer stretch. The hot asphalt hurt our feet so bad that Aria was determined to hitch-hike. She stuck out her thumb for the entire last 5 kilometers, but we made it to Aviles without anyone stopping to pick us up.
When we got a few blocks into town and lost track of the yellow arrows, I asked a man where the albergue was. He looked at me awkwardly and pointed to the giant sign that was directly above our heads. We were basically standing in it’s doorway. The hostel owner was overjoyed to find that we spoke English because he had moved here eight years ago from Chicago. He confided in us that he really missed the deep-dish pizza, but he was now happily married to a woman he met and traveled with on the Camino. It was a beautiful love story, but it was hard to think of anything besides the fact that I could practically taste his horrible breath.
Though most people treat the porch like a locker-room to change in, Aria refuses to be seen by the masses. She was covertly hiding her body in the women’s bathroom when a German guy with dreads barged in on her. By the sound of his squeal, this was his first time seeing a female body. For almost 20 minutes he incessantly apologized and said, “but you have a great body just so you know!” In essence, he was probably the most awkward male specimen that either of us had met.
After seeing her naked, I think he really felt a close bond to her. He talked to us as if he’d known us forever. He wanted to be our best friend, but he was far too intense for us to handle. He cornered us as he talked to us and I had to remove myself from the situation. He somehow made me feel trapped and claustrophobic, so I dodged him and escaped his over-friendly mannerisms. I got in my bed for a nap, so he got in his bed for a nap too. I awoke once to him waving across the room at me saying, “ hellooooo American ladieee!” I smiled uncomfortably, turned over and went back to sleep for a couple hours. He again woke me up, this time standing over my bed waving his arms and singing,“goose bah bah, goose bah bah!” I was more than afraid.
Though dreads asked us to go to dinner with him, we escaped to do our own thing. Sometimes, people are too much on the Camino, especially after walking for five hours on an empty stomach. We looked through the cute city streets to try to find the best place to eat and happened upon a busy place called the Bibliotheca. They thought it was very strange that we wanted dinner at 4:30 considering they eat dinner after 8pm, but they opened their kitchen for us. We figured out they were so crowded because they brought rounds of free tapas to everyone drinking and dining in the restaurant. After our meal, they served us sweet little frappuccinos for free. This restaurant really understood the value of good customer service!
There was a man that seemed like he was having a hard time selling tickets to ride a tourist train. They were only a dollar, so we figured, why not? It was a cute toy train that took us all around the small city. I think Aria and I were more excited about the adventure than most of the little kids riding the train. One little girl sat pouting the entire time while we were hooting and cheering. In our opinion, it was money well spent, but the Asian tourists disagreed. I heard the mother and father mutter, “well that was a huge waste of time,” as they stepped off the train. I’m not sure what more they expected for one euro?