Last night, after retrieving their washing from outside, we chased the Italians who had returned late from a bar crawl to bed at 10. There were still 2 older Italian couples , who had arrived late, still out eating as they were desperate for food. Out of the kindness of my heart I had agreed to wait outside in the dark for an extra 15 minutes after lights out as I also wanted to call home and Australia is definitely in a different time zone!
In the end I gave the 4 Italians until 10.45 as I was going to be awake anyway. I am not sure why, but it seemed that Mavis felt the need to shadow me. Not sure whether she thought I needed a bodyguard or a chaperone. I sat inside in the dark in the salon after the noisy Italians were sent to bed. So did Mavis. I went out the fire escape seeking solitude and Mavis followed. So I went back in and Mavis again followed me. By this time I was feeling rather disturbed. Was she lonely? Was I her only friend? Was I being mean? Was she being mean? Was she trying to make amends for the vegemite dumpster incident and protect me from the noisy Italians? We may never know! Thankfully the older hungry Italians returned earlier than expected and were very grateful for being allowed to eat some dinner. Mavis finally decided to go to bed. I decided to buy some long life soup for next time there hungry Italians!
At last I sat alone in the dark recounting my day to family in whispers all the while trying in desperation to contain my amusement with tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks as each chapter unfolded and my ability to talk became halted by the laughter wanting to escape. I am recovered now, I hope, but I will always remember that vegemite and tim tams need the security levels of passport control around Mavis! Consequently Najera will have a special place in my heart if for nothing else than for the spectacular dumpster recovery program!
Anyway that was last night! By 5am this morning the groups of Italians were up early laughing and chatting over the top of one another. They hadn’t cooked me dinner, they didn’t sing, but they were loud and they were animated! I tried in desperation to wish them buen camino and ask them to please be quiet – I am not ashamed to say there were moments where I stifled my desire to yell shut the *!** up!
No I am a professional hospitalero – I was calm and smiling and entering a world of madness when I realised that Mavis had been unable to direct them to bring their sheets out and they were filing out the door without putting them in the box. No spanish is not like Italian. Of course this meant I couldn’t start washing until the lights were on and we may be an hour later than hoped to have our limited free time. The cleaner was coming again today and then we wouldn’t see her until next weekend. Another lesson for the next influx. Continue to remind each pilgrim we are volunteers and we need them to help. Afortunatemente a young Italian girl translated for me and miraculously most of them went back in and grabbed their sheets.
Mavis arrived in the reception about 6 am and by this time I had already commenced washing the first load. We discussed washing machine temperature as zebra and I wanted the numerous loads done asap at 40 degrees but Mavis wanted 60 degrees which was 15 minutes more per cycle. This meant more hours of washing. Oh the dilemmas associated with negotiating washing machine times in spanish! I was able to convince Mavis that if there were bed bugs we would need 100 degrees anyway and besides, the dryer was most important for ensuring their immediate death so 40 would do with two drying cycles per load! Hallelujah! It’s certainly useful to learn how to present your case in spanish to avoid falling under the spell of a military sheet controller!
We said good bye to a bicigrino family and bid Buen Camino to the rest.
A short while later there appeared a note on the reception desk from a desperate spanish lady who had forgotten to grab her designer label underwear from the bathroom yesterday. I recalled an Italian lady taking a liking to the bra and panties and telling me someone had left them because they had been there when she arrived. I told her they were from the new arrivals because we cleaned everywhere in the morning. Clearly she decided she needed them more than the actual owner did so the Española would need to forge on sin bragas!
We put up a sign and asked for them to be left on reception but desafortunatemente no bragas were left! Because we had made such an effort to assist in the case of the missing bragas Miss Spain was happy as can be when she left in her last remaining underwear! Buen camino!
The chica de limpiar was back and on fire! She was up cleaning air con filters, blasting the cool air at 19 degrees Celsius and scrubbing and cleaning everywhere but the beds! Que? Today it was much easier not to understand her because we were concerned she was telling us not to wash the sheets as it was too expensive! We told her yes muy caro to travel from Australia to help pilgrims. It is important to have clean sheets – adios necisitamos a ir a piscina! We need to go to the pool!
We went out for the day and enjoyed a cafe con leche, a bite to eat and a shower and returned to roll the last few sheets ready for the pilgrim onslaught! Mavis seemed impressed with our ability to roll sheets so quickly!
Mavis decided it was better if I attended the register again because she could not speak English. It seems to all and sundry that I am bilingual! That’s a surprise! Zebra (so named after a Spaniard and a German misheard her name when asked yesterday) was to take the pilgrims to their bunks and explain the rules. Again important to ensure sheets were returned for washing in the morning. Mavis would attend to boot removal and the initial welcome controlling entry numbers at any one time – synchronicity! Bueno!
This arrangement was spectacular. Within one hour we had over 40 pilgrims registered, showered and resting in the cool air conditioning. First they were offered lemon flavoured water, sweets and then clean sheets and pillow cases. Mavis took her leave for Sunday afternoon lunch. We had hoped she would stay out longer so we could stay out longer later but she returned at 4 so we asked if she needed a siesta as all was quiet.
This was a great night in. The Koreans and Germans were swapping names, the Italians were solo travellers and not so enthusiastic about arguing with each other and the Spaniards were cooking wonderful smelling meals. Due to the high volume of people walking without sleeping bags and without any jackets who wanted to shut windows and turn off air conditioning. We discovered a new requirement for allocating beds. We left the beds directly under the air conditioner until last.