Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 31: The Wine Fountain

Dscn1843bSeptember 11: All of my roommates in the youth hostel snuck out at 6:00 in the morning, remarkably quiet and in the dark. I slept in considerably later than that, however. And anyhow, I had an appointment with the famous wine fountain, and it didn’t open until 8:00 in the morning. I figured I was about a half hour walk away, so I had absolutely no reason to leave before 7:30.


When it was time to leave, I noticed a pair of flip-flops next to Antonio’s bed which I assumed he must have left behind in his quest to sneak out in the dark. I stuffed them into my pack in the hope that I’d catch up to Antonio later in the day.


Then I headed off to the wine fountain. I’m not big on wine, but even I had to appreciate the rarity of a fountain that dispenses wine. Even more interestingly, I knew it had a webcam on it so, in theory, the whole world could see me at the wine fountain if they knew exactly when I’d be going by. I had contacted my mom, Amanda, and Wassa to let them know when I would arrive—which was the main reason I stopped my previous day’s hike in Estella. Given the nine-hour timezone difference, it was easier for them to watch the webcam if I arrived early in the morning rather than late in the afternoon like I would have done had I kept hiking the day before. For all my friends and family back home, it was nearly midnight.


Half a dozen people were already at the wine fountain, taking photos and drinking wine. A bit early in the morning to be drinking wine, but hey, it was a wine fountain! It would have been criminal to walk past without a taste! Even though I didn’t even like wine, I had to take a taste. =)


There was one concern I had, however, which was that the webcam wasn’t working. I’d been checking it the last few days, and the webcam was stuck on an image from someone who was there a few days earlier, and when I checked it that morning before I left the hostel, the webcam still wasn’t working. So far as I knew, it just wasn’t working. But suppose it had been fixed in the past half hour? I had no way to know! So I waved at the camera—it was quite obvious and not at all hidden. In fact, there was even a big sign up telling people to smile because there was a webcam and providing the URL for people to see themselves online.


Although I didn’t think the webcam was working, on the off chance that it was, I pulled out the large roll of paper I purchased the day before and sat down just to the left of the wine fountain. I knew that location would leave me in the webcam’s view, and in case anyone I knew was watching, I didn’t want them going away thinking I had left. So I lurked within view of the webcam at all times.


I sat down and tore off a large sheet of paper, writing, “Hola Mom!” in large letters when my pen. It wasn’t really a suitable writing implement—a thick marker would have worked better, but I didn’t have thick marker. When I was done, I stood up and held my sign up to the camera for ten seconds. (The webcam updated its image every ten seconds, so I knew I’d have to hold it in place for at least ten seconds to make sure everyone could see it.)


Dscn1846bThe other hikers around the webcam found this immensely amusing and started taking photos of ME holding my sign up to the camera. =) So I ended up standing there for about 30 seconds holding up my sign as half a dozen people took photos of me.


Then I sat back down again and decided what I’d write next. It took a remarkably long time just to write “Hola Mom!” using a ballpoint pen, so I needed to keep the message very short, and decided that my next message would read, “I *heart* AA”—and I loved the idea that AA could be a pun of sorts seeing as I was drinking wine at 8:00 in the morning. =) So I spent another ten minutes writing out my message, explaining what I was doing to the new pilgrims just arriving and hadn’t seen my last message for the webcam. And when I finished writing my message, I stood up again and held the sign up for the webcam as half a dozen people crowded around taking photos of me. “That’s so cute!” one girl exclaimed. Cute. Great….


Since it was taking at least ten minutes to write out each of these signs, I decided that that would be the last sign. Anyhow, as far as I knew, the webcam wasn’t even working and I was probably wasting enough time already. But I offered the roll of paper to anyone else who was interested in writing messages to their fans back home, but nobody was interested. Probably because they hadn’t known ahead of time that the wine fountain had a webcam so nobody back at their homes was online looking for them. I stuffed the rest of the paper into a nearby trash receptacle.


I had another idea for the webcam—one that I was really excited about. I wanted to stage a fight for it. If there was anyone I knew around who’d be willing to humor me, I would have pretended to get into quite a fight at the wine fountain! I imagined us trying to choreograph the fight in 10-second increments, since that’s how often the webcam took a photo. “Pretend like you’ve just slugged my chin! And hold still for 10 seconds!”


Then, ten seconds later, “Okay, I’ll pretend to pound you in the stomach. You pretend like you just got pounded in the stomach, all bent over in agony, and hold still for another ten seconds!”


“Great! Now I’ll pretend to hit you over the head with both my hands, and you pretend like you’re about to crash flat to the ground! And hold that position for ten seconds!”


Dscn1848bOf course, in my mind, I’d win the fight decisively. =)


But there were a couple of problems with this idea. First, I didn’t recognize any of the other pilgrims lurking around, and I didn’t feel comfortable asking total strangers to have a mock fight with me. Second, I didn’t really think the webcam was even working, so a mock fight might be a total waste of time.


So I didn’t stage the mock fight. I picked up my pack and continued on. Actually, before I got very far, I swung around to the winery’s office to get the wine fountain stamp. I had read on the winery’s website that they do have a stamp for one’s credential, but that you had to go into the office and ask for it. I wanted the wine fountain stamp! So I wandered down and got it. On my way back up to the trail (the office was slightly off trail), I passed a girl going down asking if the office was there and the stamp was available. “Yes,” I said, “open and available!” She was the only other pilgrim I saw that went down to get the stamp, though. None of the other pilgrims did, but I think that was because most of them didn’t even realize that a stamp was available. There was no signage or anything indicting such. You either had to have heard about it earlier from someone else or learned about (like I did) by reading their website ahead of time.


Back on the trail, I ready to really start the day’s hike now! No more goofing off! =)


Shortly past the wine fountain, the trail reached a junction with an alternative path as an option. The main path followed alongside a busy road for much of the distance, but the alternative path veered a good ways away from it, climbed up the side of a taller mountain, and looked much more remote and pleasant than the main path. I took the alternative.


The alternative was wonderful. It went through a thick forest of trees. The crowds of pilgrims disappeared—few chose this slightly longer, slightly more difficult alternative path. A couple of hours into the hike, I stopped at a viewpoint to snack and admire the view for close to an hour, and only three other pilgrims passed me the entire time. I like people, but I do like them in moderation, and that’s what I got on this alternative path. =)


Eventually, though, the alternative path ended, veered back and merged with the main path, and within five minutes I passed about ten times the number of people I saw during the entire walk along the alternative path. It was kind of astounding to me that so few people took the alternative. It was so much quieter and more pleasant.


Dscn1852bI soon caught up with Vivian along the trail and we caught each other up on our day’s adventure. She asked me if I noticed anything different about her, and I admitted that no, she still looked like the same old Vivian to me. Then she pointed to a towel on her neck.


“Ah! You copied my handkerchief under the hat and covering the neck look!!!!”


Indeed, she had, and said it was brilliant. She felt wonderful getting the sun off her neck. She had also started having the bulk of her pack sent ahead in a taxi to lighten her load during the day and was looking positively happy about her hike now.


She was also now the second person I’d met on the trail who’d copied my handkerchief under the hat look. Truth be told, I’m a little surprised more people don’t do it. Through the deserts on the PCT, it seemed like everyone did it. Out on these other trails, though, nobody did. Except for me. And now two people who copied me. =)


At the end of the day, I walked into Los Arcos, which looked like a sad, little town that time had passed by. I was itching to camp outdoors and was torn whether to do so or not. I liked talking to people, but at this point, I was starting to feel a little crowded by them. The novelty of actually being able to talk to people in English was wearing off, and I so very much enjoyed the alternative path that got me away from the mass of hikers. But the map in my guidebook didn’t suggest many good camping spots ahead, and so I decided to stay in town at an alburgue.


At the alburgue, I cooked dinner outside next to a three-legged dog that kept snapping at flies. I could never quite tell if the dog actually got any of the flies. There were enough of them that even if he did get one, there were still a dozen more flitting about.


This hostel had wi-fi, so I wrote up blog entries the rest of the evening. I never did see Antonio, and nobody I talked to had seen him either, so I hung onto his flip flops. Maybe tomorrow….


The alternative path was practically empty of of hikers!
Away from roads and civilization, it was an absolutely
wonderful section to walk!


Signs like this worry me. I know “abejas” is Spanish for “bees.”
I didn’t see any bees, but I didn’t really want to be
attacked by a swarm of them either! Clearly, they
must be out there if there’s signage up about them! At
least when I was in France, if I saw such signs, I couldn’t
read them so I didn’t have to worry about them. =)




A church in the small town of Luquin.


Vivian uses a towel to keep the sun off her neck. =)
I totally did not notice the kid climbing the slope behind
her when I took this photo!


Giant haystacks were a pretty common sight along this
section of trail.


The small town that time seems to have passed by. I like
it when they erect signs with what sort of services
you can find in the town like this one had. Are those
hand grenades on the bottom row, second from the right?!
And when did they have the Olympics here?!


Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

I'm wondering if the "hand grenades" are a stack of wine barrels indicating a winery. Although I can't imagine what the arc behind them is.

Michael Merino said...

Here's a link to the webcam. The webcam now hasn't been updated since October 29th.

BOOTY said...

Interesting - it looks like Spanish hay bales are square, while French ones are round.

SuzySquirrel said...

But how was the wine???

anne bonny said...

Even the small town churches are beautiful!

Hay bales (or straw in this case, hay is green, straw is gold) can come in smaller squares, larger squares and in the large round bales. You might also see "insulage" which is wrapped in what looks like white plastic. Hay is used for feed and straw is used for bedding although it can be eaten by the livestock :)