My last post , I forgot one important item. There is a Fund set up for Bill’s son Cullen at FSU. Please donate in his memory at the Link below. Cmon, FSU is only the enemy when it comes to Football. 😀 I have ordered my Bracelet, will you?
Sometime last night, I had a brain-far* . Sometimes very dangerous for me! Anyhow, I have decided to wear my bracelet until I reach Cruz de Ferro. (God Willing) I will leave it there along with all the other burdens I will be carrying. Trust me, if I leave all my burdens behind at Cruz de Ferro, I will float to Santiago. Then again , I may be struck dead when I reach the Iron Cross. Deservedly so, but I am ready now for what ever is waiting for me. That’s a good thing !
And so we continue with Dogtor bill as he meets up with his pretty wife Sharon……..XOXOXO
Sarria – 23rd day, 10 May 2013
When I left the Rural Casa (kind of a country “bed and breakfast,” not really an albergue) in Biduedo called San Xato, it was cold and raining. I sloshed through the often ankle-deep mud on the Camino trail that paralleled the asphalt highway, and the brilliant idea occurred to me that it wouldn’t really be cheating if I just slipped over and walked on the shoulder of the road. Yes it was hard on my feet, but I was still walking to my goal, and I decided that I didn’t really HAVE to punish myself on the rocky muddy choice, just because it was there. Even though my body had been destroyed over the past 3 weeks, my brain still seemed to function, and the logical choice was obvious. Besides, even if the scenery was typically “better” on the trails, it wasn’t going to be today, I reasoned, and I had yesterday seen the most magnificent views in my life. I arrived in Sarria about 2 hours sooner than the two Polish guys (Sebastian and Robert) that I had met about a week earlier, and walked with earlier today.
Reading the guidebook while hiking poses specific challenges, much like texting while walking (reference youtube: running into poles, trees and fountains), but I was attempting to find an albergue (read as cheap) that also had a private room or two (many do) that I can switch over to for tomorrow night after I get Sharon, who’s going to be jet lagged and want a good night’s sleep the first night. I decided on San Lazaro, very close to the bus stop for when we get back, and very close to where we’ll commence the last leg of Camino.
I was astonished to see that I had made it to Sarria, and it was only 10 after 2! I was almost out of Euro, so I asked the tourist office where the nearest bank was that has cambio (money exchange service), and was told just two doors down, but didn’t I know (apparently I’m the only person in Spain) that the banks all close at 2:00. OH NO!!! I’m gonna be out of money after I pay for tonight and the two bus fares. He assured me that at least one bank was open Saturday morning. Whew!
In just a few minutes, I arrived at San Lazzaro Albergue, which seems clean, is nice enough, only costs 8 Euro, and has one private room, which I have been assured was available for tomorrow night (the 11th) for 36 Euro. This is much more than I had wanted to spend, especially with such low cash on hand, but apparently all four hotels in town were completely full, and I had been warned that prices would increase the closer we drew to Santiago.
I did my laundry, but then it was too late to find a vodaphone shop to find out why my SIMM card was not downloading my MapMyHike data the past two days, and why my international minutes were all gone so soon. So I went to a nearby cafe for dinner, and returned early enough for a good night sleep, which I did get.
I realize that was all kind of boring, but the next morning I discovered that the one bank “open on Saturday morning” hadn’t been for over 2 years. Think this looks bad? It gets much better. Soon I was having a “discussion” at the Vodaphone store, where I was told by the helpful associate (who speaks “poco” En-glaze) that although I had paid for 30 Euro of talk time, and that it only costs .18 per minute after 8:00pm, the one call I made home had been disconnected (card was depleted) after 12 minutes because of “taxes.” I’m really sure thats what he told me, because like I said, I’m really fluent in Spanish now, and I understand everything that people say to me. Anyway, like I said earlier, I still have a (partially) functioning brain, and I realized I wasn’t going to resolve this issue to my satisfaction, so I was just wasting my time. I thanked the kind associate for his assistance, and headed back to the albergue to move my stuff to the private room, cause I had to catch the bus in just under an hour. Although this day was not at all looking good, I managed a smile – pleased at the “new and improved” version of me that could laugh at misfortune instead of exploding.
Things continued to deteriorate. The kind senora at San Lazaro Albergue that I had made the arrangements with yesterday was gone, and her mean replacement insisted that someone named Carlos Perez had the private room reserved, and had done so several days previously, as she remembered making that reservation herself.
This day was not going well. I searched on foot to discover that not only were all hotels full, none of the other listed albergues had private rooms available.
I had to be at the bus station now in 20 minutes, so I had resigned myself to stay in Lugo, where we’d need to change buses, at a hotel (I would surely find one there). Always have a plan “B.” So I had just enough time to get Sharon two trekking poles and get to the bus station. My pace quickened dramatically as I trotted to the hiking supply store I had spotted yesterday.
As I rifled through the display of poles looking for the cheapest ones to fulfill our one time use requirement, guess who walked up behind me, laughing… DIRK! Again, I was so glad to see him, and always funny that we would run into each other time after time after time after time in such a mass of pilgrims.
As I hugged him, I saw over his shoulder there was a fifth hotel, that wasn’t listed in the guidebook (had they refused to give Brierley a referral cut?) Great to see you Dirk, I love you, man, but I gotta go, gotta pay for these poles, run over there, see if they have a room, and get to the bus station. We’ll connect in Santiago, if not sooner…
No vacancy in the hotel, but, at last I really did get a break. The manager called a “pension” (kind of a cross between a private albergue and a hotel) nearby that he seemed to know had a private room available. I could only laugh at how things seem to run down to the last second. Apparently some things just will NOT change in my life, kind of cool though that I had just laughed, knowing I would work something out.
The “pension” was just down the street, over a bar/cafe, in the direction of the bus station. When I walked into the bar, he greeted me by name, grabbed my backpack, told me he’d put it on the bed to hold the room, and I could pay tonight. Great news, Shar had changed some money at the airport in Orlando. This was actually better than good, because I actually did not have enough Euro to pay for the return bus fare for us if I paid now. Haha, anyway, my doubly quickened pace placed me in the line, boarding the bus, about four minutes prior to departure.
I laughed out loud at my good fortune as we pulled out of the bus station. And I was so excited to be picking up Shar. I couldn’t wait to share “my Camino” with her.
Sorry, I couldn’t find any pictures of Sarria, Vodaphone, Bus ride on anything relevant to todays post.
Thought I’d share my family, who have done nothing but love and support each other. They lift each other, which lifts me. And my son, who will travel this camino with me forever.
Camino with Sharon
My heart pounded as I waited in the sea of people waiting for their loved ones to, one at a time, come past airport customs, after baggage claim. Shar hadn’t checked a bag, only her backpack as carry-on, so she’d surely be one of the first through to join us. As you can imagine, she was not. So many things today had gone contrary to plan that I almost expected her flight to arrive without her. As each passenger greeted and hugged someone waiting for them, I grew a bit more anxious. I hadn’t actually been able to contact her since she told me that, like how I had began my trip three weeks earlier, her flight from Orlando to Miami had been so delayed that she was put on a different flight.
Did that flight arrive on time? Did she make her next flight from Miami to Madrid? If so, theye would be a five hour layover – had she been able to sleep on the flight, or did she unroll her sleeping bad and crash for a while during the layover… Did she sleep through the boarding, and miss this flight? Did she set an alarm on her phone? Did her phone battery die, so the alarm didn’t wake her? So many things that we just take for granted could always go wrong.
A dozen or more people had filed past, and many now had much larger bags with them that didn’t look like they could be allowed as carryons. I had resigned to the liklihood that she’d missed her flight. How would we contact? Especially if her phone was dead…
Sharon bounced through the doorway, and beamed with joy as our eyes met. I felt like I hadn’t seen her in months, or that we were still dating, I was so happy to see her.
She hadn’t been delayed at all. She actually was one of the first ones off the plane. I looked at the time; I had only been waiting six minutes. Felt like a long time.
As we rode the 3 hour bus ride back to Sarria, as you can imagine, I thought about lots of things. Many things would be different after this Camino, some would not. What would my thoughts, attitudes, and my life change after this. Will it be just remembered as a “big adventure?” Or will it be that mid-life, post-tragedy reset that everyone was hoping for…
How will I respond