Day 10 I’m off on the road again I’m on the road again

Wish I could sound like canned heat! My cousin Paul can! And don’t worry, I was on the road again but only for a short time – I didn’t run away from the Albergue! We all thoroughly enjoyed our morning!

So this morning was like a dream. It was Saturday and the Chica de limpia was coming. Let’s just call her Sadie for now. We did not have to clean! We had finished the washing by 7am as we only had about 30 people last night. I decided I was going to walk to Azofra today. At the same time so did Zebra. I went to tell Mavis and she decided to come too as we assumed Sadie had keys.

By 7am I had also accompanied the Golden Girls to the first bar where mochilas are left for transport to the next town because they had kept returning to the albergue to obtain envelopes for addressing the transfer because the bar was closed. I knew the Jacotrans bar would be open and accompanied them to find it. An amazingly strong girl from the USA took charge of an additional two backpacks she had promised to watch at the first bar until the transport came.

i suggested as it was only 6.30am and, given spanish opening hours, she was likely to be waiting a few hours. I recommended she head to the next bar which opened at 6am and was the base for Jacotrans. She carried the 3 packs there at once – I was impressed !!.

Anyway a short while later we hospitaleras headed off down the camino with our plan to have desayuno at Azofra about 5 kilometres away and then walk back.

We were all so thrilled to be escaping the Albergue, that Zebra and Mavis started dancing.

They sped off like lightening bolts as we hit the outskirts of town. I knew they would. I am the slowest pilgrim on the camino! Always! Well almost always. Anyway I couldn’t see them for dust!!! Literally that is. Three cars went past as we wandered down the dirt road and only one of them was courteous enough to slow down and avoid forcing me to eat dust! So eat dust I did! But it wasn’t long before the beautiful vineyards of Rioja came into view.

It took just over an hour to cover 5 kilometres and,just as I was walking into Azofra, a crowd of people started heading towards me. I was mesmorised = who were they? why were they walking backwards? Would I be crushed by this stampede?

To my surprise they were quite calm and collected as they passed. I was absolutely thrilled to enjoy the sweet small of perfumes and deodorant after a week of smelly boots and sweaty pilgrims locked in the room with no ventilation! Heule beuno!

We enjoyed breakfast in Azofra, (better known to me as the town with the best municipal Albergue on the camino) in direct contrast to Najera, the Azofra albergue has only two people to each room and a beautiful foot pool to relax in. After breakfast we headed back to Najera and found walking backwards on the camino was very interesting. A steady flow of different people. The umbrella ladies impressed us all.

While we were gone we hoped Sadie would be in and out and the albergue would also smell nice. But of course Sadie didnt have keys so had to call one of the Albergue contacts out . Oh well – we only had one full set between three of us and quite frankly it was a tad inconvenient every day! Moreso for Zebra who could access the petty cash and change box but couldn’t get in the front door! Mavis had tried again to obtain a copy key because but it appeared to be a secure key that required a certain permission – we would have to try again Monday with the maintenance man!

We had an interesting afternoon to start with as Mavis had started more formally correcting my Spanish and had, on the previous day, conspired with another spanish man to teach me a new way to ask pilgrims to wait until Zebra comes back and she will take you to your bed. It turns out the wording had a double meaning and many were laughing when a spanish teacher arrived and corrected me because llevara’ tu cama ” take you to your bed” was apparently not the best way to say it. We would change it to maestra tu cama – show you your bed!

During the afternoon three young people from the USA arrived, one with a number of busted and unbusted blisters. At night we assisted providing limited supplies as best we could because the first aid kit was low on supplies and there was limited money to replenish. We didnt know the extent of her problem until after the shops had shut. We strongly suggested she take the bus or rest tomorrow and visit the farmacia or medical centre because we were not experts – although she did a great repair job with my omnifix (similar to fiximul at home) and cotton wool and betadine. I also donated some sheep’s wool from Nyngan for her to use to prevent further blisters once she got going but told her it was not sterile so not for use on open wounds.

During the afternoon an interesting arrival appeared and sought refuge with a credential and passport. He was a very very very tall man from Germany who rode a very very very big bike and asked if he could check in and sleep outside because he was far far far too tall to fit in the beds. We agreed if he returned at 4pm we would register him because pilgrims on foot get first priority. He sat outside waiting and playing the mandolin – another pilgrim joined in with the recorder. Sounded magnificent!

Anyway he checked in at 4 and we were interested to see that when he had set up his bed on an outside bench seat, he was annoyed when the locals came by ready to sit and chat late into the night – he told them to keep quiet! And they did! He eventually changed into his pale pink onesy and went to sleep under the street light much to our amazement.

After everyone had finally gone to bed I found myself reflecting on the day and remembering a day in Cooktown many years ago when my mother, who was a publican at the time, had come down the stairs of our pub pointing a shot gun at a mad man who had arrived out of the jungle with a machete!

Don’t worry no one arrived here with a machete thank heavens! And I certainly wouldn’t wield a gun! And this was no rain forest jungle either! but we were only three women with a dormitory of too many drinkers at times. I felt like a publican when a loud Belg who had been drinking too much wouldn’t stop talking and wandering around annoying everyone – I told him to go to bed and keep quiet or he would be kicked out! He immediately went quiet and went straight to bed! It felt quite rewarding to have someone react so immediately! Wish my children had been thus affected by my demands when there were chores to be done!

By bed time Zebra had brought everyone’s washing in for safe keeping, the tall tall tall German had been wandering in and out in his pink onsey using the bathroom and kitchen and numerous people had provided input to the American girl to assist her with her feet. By the time she trotted off to bed her feet looked magnificent dotted with betadine and covered in the dressings she had done.

Mavis unfortunately entertained outside past ten o’clock meaning many of the pilgrims thought they too could stay up! It wasn’t easy rounding them up with that additional challenge.

I was glad to have the fan on after showing Mavis the scientific review indicating too many people in a closed room increased co2 and germs creating a perfect environment for spreading illness. It still felt hot nevertheless as today had been well into the thirties. It was than that a spanish man came out complaining he was freezing! But i said its very hot in here and its only a fan! The air conditioner is turned off! Mavis was deeply concerned that he would die of pneumonia! Aye aye aye – i was sure someone would die of heat stroke or asphyxiation without even the fan on! We then left the fan on in the dining area and left the door open to hopefully circulate some air and save the man from certain death!

A short while later I visited the bathroom to find a young German trying to sleep on the long wooden bench in the salon. I wondered if he was too hot in the dormitory and asked him if he was okay. Apparently someone was snoring so loudly next to him he was unable to sleep. He told me it was unbearable and he was so annoyed by the man. I thought the snoring was coming from the direction of the freezing Spaniard but I couldn’t be sure. I offered the young man some spare earplugs I had brought from the plane and he was extremely grateful as he had lost his somewhere. He trotted off back to his bunk very happy but I could hear the snoring through a reasonably sound proof wall and I wondered how well others were faring out there in the trenches!

Lesson for today- Es importante to bring earplugs and sleeping bags if you are sleeping in Albergues.! You can’t control other pilgrims nor can you control the temperature!

Hasta manana!

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