Monday, December 31, 2012

Day 54: Do Not Eat the Pancakes!

Dscn4081bOctober 4: I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. Out the windows, I could see it was still dark, though some of the city lights filtered into my room enough that I could see a bit. And I felt absolutely dreadful.

I stumbled into the bathroom, tripping over some of my gear along the way, where I produced an epic explosion on the toilet which probably helped insure the rest of the hotel knew that something very bad was happening in this room.

I went back to bed, but I didn’t fall asleep. I lay there, feeling absolutely miserable, until another call of nature pulled me into the bathroom a half hour later. And while sitting on the toilet this time, I threw up.

It was bad. Very ugly. I didn’t want to throw up all over the floor, but the toilet was kind of preoccupied with other things, and I managed to keep most of the barf in my mouth until I could turn around and spit it out in the toilet. Most of made it, but there was splatter on the sink and a towel on the floor. I didn’t need a thermometer to know that I was sick.

I cleaned up as best I could, washing my mouth out with water, and eventually headed back into bed again, where I lay there feeling miserable for myself. It was kind of ironic, really. On all my other long-distance hikes, I’d constantly been warned by other hikers that it was only a matter of time before I got giardia for not treating my water, but I never did get sick. And now, when I’m on a hike drinking nothing but tap water, I get sick.

I didn’t blame the water for my sickness. Giardia seemed extremely unlikely since I hadn’t once had any surface water on this hike. Nope, I was just plain sick. Maybe I caught a bug from a pilgrim spreading them in a hostel, or maybe I had food poisoning, or maybe…. who knows. It didn’t really matter at this point. Whatever it was, it wasn’t good! And without a doubt, I’d have to take a zero day. No hiking for me today!

I lay in bed, feeling pretty miserable for myself, for the next few hours, but a strange thing happened at about 9:30: I got hungry. I got online and surfed the web a bit, but when my stomach started growling, I went ahead and ate a big bowl of cereal, which tasted great. And I had absolutely no problem keeping it down. In fact, I was actually feeling pretty good. Maybe I could get in some hiking after all! A short, easy day of walking, though. I definitely didn’t want to overdo things! I probably should have taken the whole day off anyhow, but the idea of laying around in bed bored to tears didn’t appeal to me either. No, I’d rather be walking—but I’d take it slow and easy.

Dscn4082bMust have been food poisoning, I thought. Normally, when I get really sick, it knocks me out for an entire day—minimum. This knocked me out for all of about four hours. Must have been something bad I ate the day before, but I had absolutely no idea what it might have been.

I took another shower to get off any lingering sickness or smells from my body and packed up my gear, not leaving town until nearly 10:30 in the morning. A super late start! Given the incredibly late start, I didn’t expect to see many pilgrims on the trail. They’d have all left town hours earlier.

But I was wrong. Immediately out of town, I didn’t see any pilgrims, but less than an hour later, I was passing them left and right. I didn’t recognize any of them either. But I did chat briefly with a few of them, however.

First I met a couple of women, when we went into a store saying that they’d stamp your credential. The two women were from Colorado and Michigan, but we didn’t really talk much. Just ships passing in the night, as it were, and for all I knew, I’d never see them again. But I would see them again. And again, and again. For pretty much every day until the end of the trail. They were also hiking with a third woman, although she wasn’t there to get her credential stamped.

We went in and handed our credentials to the store clerk for stamping. He told us to look around the store while he did the stamping—an obvious ploy to part us with our money before we left. Most of it was jewelry and knickknacks that I wasn’t really interested in in the first place. I might have been inclined to buy a souvenir magnet or two, except that I didn’t want to carry it the rest of the way to Santiago where I knew I could buy them there as well. So I didn’t buy anything, but I looked around for appearance’s sake.

The man stamped all of our credentials, and handed them all back to me. I think he assumed that I was hiking with the women since we were chatting when we walked in together, but the fact was I had only met them less than two minutes earlier. =) I pulled out my credential from the three he handed back to me, then looked inside at the name on the first one. “Which one of you is Nancy?” I asked. Nancy, the one from Michigan, fessed up, and I handed her her credential, and handed the other one to the other woman without checking the name.

I continued along the trail, waving goodbye and leaving the women behind. I was only walking for another five or ten minutes when I saw a younger girl walking ahead of me. She was blonde, and cute, but the thing that really stuck out in my head were her socks. One was black and the other was a bright purple, and I rather liked the lack of color coordination. I’ll often wear mismatched socks if I have two different pairs that are missing a sock. I’d like to think most people never even notice since I wear pants and almost nobody ever sees them. This girl wore shorts, though, so the mismatched socks was plain as the nose on her face.

Dscn4094bSo I complimented her on the socks, saying if I tried to do that, my girlfriend would probably shake her head and call me a neanderthal. =) Actually, she does that even when I wear two different socks that are the same color!

The girl introduced herself as Indi—short for Indiana, apparently—and she was from Australia and had only started her hike in Astorga, which wasn’t very far back at all. I was a little surprised—to fly all the way from Australia, and then only hike from Astorga to Santiago? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but if I had to invest in an expensive plane ticket to go halfway around the world, I’d want something more out of it. *shrug* She said she was hiking with friends, although none of them were present at the time.

I pushed on passed Indi thinking I’d probably never see her again either. But I’d be wrong. As time would prove, I’d be seeing a lot more of Indi before reaching Santiago.

The rest of the day’s walk was rather uneventful. After I ate breakfast, I lost my appetite again and skipped lunch. In the early afternoon, I used the toilet at a bar along the trail. I didn’t need it at the time, but I figured it would be a good precaution. Better to use it and not need it later than to not use it and need it later in the afternoon.

But otherwise, my hiking went well. So well, in fact, that I decided I wanted to camp outdoors tonight. Assuming I didn’t take a turn for the worse before that.

I also passed the 100 kilometer marker to Santiago. Just another symbol that my hike was winding down, and I was a little saddened for the reminder.

Dscn4095bLate in the day, I arrived in Portomarin where I saw Indi sitting in a park with a couple of her friends and their gear laid out everywhere.

“Why are you out here?” I asked. “And not in an alburgue like everyone else?” Not that I wasn’t glad to see them. I planned to stop here in town to resupply at a grocery store, cook dinner, then push through town and find a place to camp somewhere out past the other end of the town. I was more than happy to have company around to chat with while cooking dinner. Even more so since they were all cute girls with those sexy Australian accents. =)

The two other girls there didn’t know me, so Indi answered. “We’re planning to camp outside of town,” she told me.

I blinked, stunned. They were camping?! Excited, I asked, “Really?!” I looked at her and her friends. “You mind if I join you?”

They seemed about as surprised at my question as I was at their answer to my question! “You have camping gear?” they asked me.


Dscn4106bSo they said, sure, I could camp with them. I had new camping buddies! A whole GROUP of them!!! They were still waiting for one of their group to get into town—she was taking her time lingering, and the fifth member of their group was in another part of the town doing I don’t know what. I went ahead and started cooking dinner since they looked like they’d be around for awhile and I didn’t want to do that in the dark after arriving in camp.

Kathy, one of the girls, warned me, “But we should warn you—we’ve been reading 50 Shades of Grey out loud to each other during the night!”

Oh, my… this should be interesting….. I hadn’t read the book nor had I ever intended to, but I had definitely heard of it. Apparently, a friend had given one of them the book just before starting their hike and they decided it would be fun to read it aloud to each other each night. I didn’t care, though—I was just happy to have someone else to camp with. And I was pretty certain that things would not be boring with them around! So while waiting for their other two companions to arrive, they brought me up to date on the plot of the story—what little plot there actually is—for where they left off so I could follow along later.

Almost everything I knew about the book comes from a scene I saw of Ellen Degeneres “reading” the book. I’ve included the clip below which, if you want to know why I titled this post “Don’t Eat the Pancakes!”—you’ll find in this clip. =) 

When all five of the Australians finally got together, they started to cook their own dinner. And they pulled out 50 Shades of Grey to start reading. They were determined to finish it before arriving in Santiago. It started off pretty boring, actually—reading the text of a multi-page contract described in the book. An interesting contract, to be sure, but not a lot of plot or action going on. Occasionally, a local would walk past us, and I’d wonder if they knew any English at all to understand what was being read.

The girls finished dinner and we started off in search of a place to camp just after sunset. We didn’t go far—I doubt we went more than a kilometer out of town—and it was starting to get dark when we arrived, but we set up camp. The five girls carried three tents among them, which they set up. I decided to cowboy camp since rain seemed like a remote possibility, but set up camp near the tent where they planned to read 50 Shades and spent the next couple of hours doing just that. I’ll say this for it: There was a lot of giggling and laughing going on that night. =)

The setting for the book was in the Seattle area—which I had not known beforehand—so it was kind of fun for me to hear references to things like Pike Place Market at home. =) But I was absolutely convinced that all of the characters were Australian. In the book, they were allegedly Americans, but since the book was being read by a bunch of Australians with their accents, in my head, all the characters seemed Australian.

It was a remarkably fun way to spend the evening. =) Eventually, though, we all got tired and called it a night.

This badly graffitied waypoint marks the 100 kilometer
point on the way to Santiago.

The cemeteries in this part of the country seemed to mostly
be above-ground crypts. And annoyingly, I’d still find water
faucets at them all. I still wanted to prove Maria, whom I met
back in France, wrong! =)


It’s like a laundry machine exploded on this cross.

I stopped for a drink at this alburgue/bar. Wonderful
views from here!

I’m not sure why this field is lined with these slabs of rocks,
but I kind of liked the look. *shrug*

The trail crosses this incredibly tall bridge across the River Mino into
Portomarin. It’s a five-second bridge. (The time it took when
I spit off from the top for my spit to hit the water below.) That
officially makes it the tallest bridge I’d crossed on the trail!

The entrance into Portomarin.

My new camping buddies. =) Although you can’t really see
most of their faces in this photo, I’ll give you their names anyhow.
From left to right: Jenny, Kathy, Emily, Indi (in front), and Erin (standing).

No comments: