Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Day 28: Churros and Peppers!

Oct 14: Once again, Amanda woke up early and headed out into the darkness while I lingered behind in the hostel waiting for the sun to rise. The morning was generally sunny, but fog lingered near creeks and low-lying areas.

The morning was generally clear, but you can see fog along creeks and other low-lying areas.

It took a couple of hours, but I caught up with Amanda just as she was about to leave a cafe. I decided to grab a snack as well, so I stopped and put in an order for croquettes which took much longer to get than I had expected and set me back a half hour.

But I caught up to Amanda again in Padron, a bustling town known for their infamous Padron peppers. Eating the peppers is a bit like playing Russian roulette. Only about 1 in 30 of the peppers are actually hot, but you don't know which one it is until you take a bite into it. =)

Amanda and I stopped at a restaurant for lunch. I ordered spaghetti while Amanda ordered a plate of Padron peppers. I tried a couple of the peppers but didn't find any of the particularly hot ones. Amanda was funny to watch because most of the time she'd take a bite of a pepper and go on chatting like nothing had happened, but a couple of times she'd bite into one and yelp, "That was a hot one!"

I let Amanda get another head start on me and I lingered back reading my Kindle for a half hour or so. Soon, dark clouds started rolling in and I started worrying about rain. Maybe I should get a move on as well....

Leaving Padron, I saw a couple of signs warning about a "temporary detour," but if there was a temporary detour, I never figured out where. The entire route I followed was well marked and had nothing to suggest a temporary nature to it.

Late in the day, Amanda typically slows down, but I had trouble catching up with her. She must have been anxious to get to the hotel! I was more than a little surprised that she had actually reached the hotel a few minutes before I did. I was sure I'd be able to catch up with her before she reached it. I think Amanda's getting stronger and faster the longer she's on the trail, but she dismissed the notion.

"The alternative is that I'm growing weak and slow," I told her. I preferred thinking that she was growing stronger and faster. =)

After checking into the hotel, I headed out to get dinner. Amanda didn't seem interested in going out again, so I headed out on my own and went to a restaurant across the street, but they said they wouldn't be serving food until later in the evening. They were only selling drinks now.

We weren't actually located in a city per se. Mostly just a scattering of buildings alongside the nearby highway, and I didn't see any other food options around so I sat down and ordered a Coke, which arrived with the usual free snack. In this case, bread with beans. At least it put something solid in my stomach, even if it wasn't a real meal.

On my way back to the hotel, where I crossed the busy highway in a crosswalk, a couple of women were selling freshly made churros. I knew they were fresh because I could actually watch them making them. They had a boiling cauldron of oil and dropped lengths of dough cut up with scissors into the boiling liquid before pulling them out and sprinkling cinnamon and sugar over it. It was a hypnotic process to watch, and I bought a bag for a couple of euros which I ate the rest of the way back to the hotel. They were absolutely delicious. =)

When I made it back to the hotel, I told Amanda about the churros and she was upset that I hadn't saved any for her. "You ate them all?!" 

But come on.... in all the years I've known her, she's never expressed an interest in churros. "And," I told her, "they were pretty small. It's really hard not to eat them all."

So I went back out and picked up some more churros, this time saving them for Amanda. I got two orders--one for myself to eat so I didn't "accidentally" eat her churros. That should occupy my mouth in the time it took to walk to the hotel. I also got a third order of chocolate churros, just in case Amanda wanted to try the chocolate version. (Personally, I liked the regular ones better, but Amanda likes chocolate a lot more than I do.)

Amanda seemed astonished at the fact that the churros were still hot.

"I told you that these were freshly made! Of course they're hot! I literally watched them frying in the oil then brought them right back. These churros didn't even exist five minutes ago!" Amanda tried one and gave her her seal of approval.

"These are good!" she exclaimed.

"And now you know why I ate them all the first time I bought them...."

I made it back to the hotel just in time too, because it soon started to rain again. So far, we'd gotten pretty lucky at avoiding being outside while it was actively raining, but I knew our luck couldn't hold out forever....
A pilgrim rest stop with vending machines and a stamp. =)
Holy giant spiders! That thing is hairy!

When I showed Amanda this photo, she told me, "I took a rest break right on that bench!" =)

This was a "medieval restaurant." We didn't stop there, but I liked the decor!

Crossing over the Ulla River just before Padron--which is also where the Spiritual Variant merges  back into the Central Route, so I expected to be coming through here again in a couple of more weeks!

Padron is famous for their Padron peppers--so much so they even had a giant statue of a woman with a basket of them!
Amanda admires my spaghetti.
Amanda's order of Padron peppers. On average, only about 1 in 30 of them are particularly hot--but you won't know which one until you bite into it! =)
A pilgrim statue!
The Sar River.

I was a little puzzled by this tile because it kind of looked like Spanish, but not quite. Turns out, it's Galician! I didn't realize that Galician was a separate language. It's spoken by about 2.4 million people primarily located in (not surprisingly) Galicia—the northwest section of Spain where we're currently located.

Amanda didn't want to stop at this "club" for refreshments.... Bummer! =)

These waymarks have plaques on them showing the number of meters to Santiago—19,595 in this case. A local fellow who only spoke Spanish told me that a car had collided with this one, and I joked that that was fine, but the plaque should be updated to read 19,594 meters since it's now one meter closer to Santiago. He laughed. My first and only joke I told entirely in Spanish on the entire walk! =)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Day 27: Flooding on the trail!

Oct 13: Amanda got a very early start on the trail this morning leaving the hostel at 7:30--well before sunrise! I didn't leave until about an hour and a half later, about 9:00, shortly before sunrise. I just couldn't get the photos I needed much before 9:00. It was too dark before then.

With a 90 minute head start, it took a few hours for me to catch up with Amanda in the small town of Caldas de Reis. The walk was largely uneventful. I met a couple of older American women walking the trail, Jenni and Suzi, who I walked with a bit. They were walking with a larger group of people but took a taxi that morning to skip ahead a bit and were thrilled at their discovery that it felt so wonderful. I couldn't help but laugh. Amanda would be jealous if she listened to them go on about how wonderful it was to skip half their day's walk. The group they were traveling with was going a bit faster than they preferred and they didn't want to overexert themselves.

The weather was foggy and overcast all day long. Pleasantly cool, but it left me wondering when the rain might start. It looked like it might start at any moment.

Caldas de Reis I found strangely disorienting, and eventually I figured out much too slowly that my map of the town was oriented so north was facing to the left side of the page. Once I realized that, it was a lot easier to follow my progress through the town.

The town is best known for a hot spring which has gushed a constant 40°C (104°F) water for a thousand years. Now the spring--or at least one particular spring (I don't really know if there are others in the area)--is part of a fountain and my guidebook shows a photos of pilgrims soaking their weary feet in the hot waters. I took photos of the fountain, but I didn't linger long since I was still trying to catch up with Amanda.

Amanda, I knew, was somewhere ahead of me...

I found Amanda minutes later, though, just up the trail and we stopped at a cafe for lunch. She had stopped at the fountain to soak her feet (how could she not?!) so I now had photos of her soaking her feet in the warm waters. =)

After lunch, we continued on. There were some very light sprinkles, but not so heavy that I felt inclined to open my umbrella, and even the light sprinkle quickly stopped.

We continued on to the tiny little town of Carracedo. I skipped on ahead to make sure there was availability at the hotel in town and book a room, then I was going to backtrack to lead Amanda there, but I found her at a cafe about a five minute walk away. She covered that last part of the trail rather rapidly! She was inside the cafe just about to be served a meal.

Across the room, a television was playing the news when we noticed scenes of flooding in "Santiago." Cars drove through water several feet deep and it looked like flooding was extensive.

Amanda was the first to comment. "That can't be our Santiago. That must be Santiago, Chile, or something."

Yeah. It must be.... Right? Our Santiago was only about 40 kilometers away--about 25 miles. It was very close, and it really hadn't rained all that much. Surely the little bit of rain we had couldn't have caused that much flooding in our Santiago. Yes, it must be Santiago, Chile. Or somewhere.... How much trouble would the flooding cause us if it was in our Santiago? But whatever the news reporters said on the television was too faint and spoken in a rapid fire Spanish that I couldn't hope to keep up with. We just knew that there was flooding in "Santiago." On the other hand, if it was in Santiago, Chile, you'd think they'd have labeled the video as being of Santiago, Chile, so locals wouldn't confuse it with Santiago de Compostela here in Spain. Hmm....

After Amanda finished her meal, we headed to the hotel where I got online and started Googling the news for flooding in Santiago. I just wanted to make sure it really was in Chile or something, but I couldn't find anything about Santiago, Chilie So I started looking for news of flooding in Santiago, Spain, and holy cow! There was flooding in our Santiago! Apparently one guy in northern Spain even died after his car was swept away in a flood. It seemed that the flooding was limited to northern Spain, but we were in northern Spain and had experienced just light rainfalls. Reading about the swollen rivers, flooding and related issues seemed like a problem a million miles away--not merely 25 miles up the trail. I couldn't find any information about exactly where the flooding happened in Santiago or how it might affect our walk.

Always an adventure! We really didn't have any idea what we might be walking into...

Being well outside of a decent sized town, our food options were limited and we ate dinner at the restaurant attached to the hotel. I ordered the chorizo and cheese sandwich. Nothing too exotic! I didn't write in my journal what Amanda had ordered, so that will forever be a mystery.

Never!!!! I particularly liked the googly eyes on this one. They got creative here! =)

Holy giant arrows! That's a big one!

Amanda soaks her feet in the hot springs.

Amanda takes a rest on the trail.

Amanda ordered this meal at the cafe where we learned that Santiago was flooding. (I admit, I took the hot dog and formed it into a happy face. Amanda was very patient when I started playing with her food.)