Our humble abode last night. Yes, I know. It was supposed to be the one on the right, but somehow morphed into the place on the left. And I was tired when I wrote the blog yesterday...it’s a 4**** hotel. The one on the right was a no * hotel. Given the choice which one would you pick if money wasn’t the deciding factor? The one on the right has a couple of bathroom for about 20 bunk bed clients. The one on the left has a bathroom in each room and even on the main floor where there was a billiards room, a top restaurant, a spa, a bar and a helpful lady at the front desk. I ask again, which one would you pick? Ok, still undecided? Let me provide you with the economics and a few other features. The one on the right would have cost us €50 for a full bunk bed and didn’t include breakfast. So add breakfast and a dinner out and we are talking another €45, so all in €95, PLUS a room full of other snorers. The 4**** beauty cost us a staggering €120. I hear you, that’s a lot of cash for two pilgrims to spend. Yup. But what if I told you that the price included a fabulous breakfast that you’d be happy to have for minimum €18 each (like the one at the Leon Parador) and that we had a dinner suitable for the Kings’s right hand knight with a price that was hard to beat. Yup, you’d take the one on the left too. If you didn’t I’d have some concerns!
My dinner last night.
Now please don’t judge me. I was just so hungry, it happens like this sometimes on these distance walks. We had the typical two slices of bread with tea for breakfast (typical in France) and climbed hard for hours before descending for another 2 hours. To save weight for the climb, lunch consisted of a mix of nuts, chocolate, dried fruit and a bit of dried sausage. Also we couldn’t get dinner until almost 21:00. I know, there’s enough meat there to feed me for a whole week at home, chicken, beef, lamb and pork. I also had a huge bowl of really wonderful mountain soup, two small pieces of bread and a chocolate crepe for dessert washed down with a beautiful glass of Spanish red. The menu del dia. BUT, I didn’t touch the fries:)
This morning they kindly put breakfast out for us early as typically the Spanish don’t usually surface until after 8:00. It was a really nice touch as they knew we were walking a Camino, probably one of the most respected things you can individually do in Spain. We discussed and expected the typical breakfast of about 2 calories, but were shocked when we were presented by a spread that would put most Sunday brunches at home to shame. I’m not kidding. Of course I was still hungry. So after a plate full of eggs, bacon, pane de chocolate (known here as a Napoleone- remember our fun with this Rob?!), fine cheeses, orange juice and tea (I can order all this in Spanish now) I was feeling much better. As we were all alone we helped ourselves to some amazing bread, serrano ham and cheese and made sandwiches for the road and capped this off with some nice oranges. I guess I forgot about the lunch so the €120 is looking even better! I’d show you photos, but for once I had left it locked in our room. In a 4**** you don’t have to carry everything of any value with you like you do in the no* places.
Back to today. Well fed, we set off in search of the first yellow arrows and found them just at the edge of town. We crossed below a dam,
and past a series of bunkers dating back to Franco’s time when he wanted to maintain Spain’s neutrality during WWII. Nasty reminders, and we saw several through the day. The openings were very low to the ground and would provide excellent cover while viewing the road across the river.
Hey Rob, I saw 3 of these today alone! Note the special bike rack on the back of this one. Put a kayak rack on the top and you’d be ready for anything! That’s the table from the side door.
The day started out of with some patches of blue.
And as we crossed this brilliant Roman bridge (you’re welcome Neil and Sarah) we were hit by a wind gust that just about blew me over!
We crossed lots of talus slopes today which made the walking a bit interesting. I find it better not to think about just how many big rocks are around when crossing these!
We found an uncomfortable place where they really hadn’t considered the pilgrims when they built the new highway. And yes, we did barely manage to fit underneath ok.
We stopped for a break in Villanua and I found this! They repackaged Aquarius I think. Tastes the same.
The sky was getting really ugly and I’d seen on line that a former hurricane that had been sitting just offshore was scheduled to make landfall by Lisbon and blow right across Spain tonight with massive rains and potential flooding.
The sky continued to really darken and we could see a massive amount of rain falling in the valley some 10 kms ahead so we reluctantly put on our wet gear as a bit of rain caught us. I managed to scare a few sheep...getting one back from my encounter with the massive sheep in the Plata in 2014! Must be my red poncho?
Then they all wanted to be my friend. Too funny!
As we passed through Castiello de Jaca,
the rain looked close and I suggested it was time for the ponchos again. And then the clouds opened. It was crazy. Hiding under a bridge.
Eight kilometres later as we reached Jaca (J is silent) it stopped, but there were streams and lakes everywhere on the trail. It was just about as bad as we’ve seen it in Spain, but fortunately it just poured on us while we walked. I said to no one in particular as I slogged through the mess under my boots, “You’re early”. It wasn’t to have arrived until after 17:00, long after we would have been in and dry. As I write this the remainder of Hurricane Leslie i# dumping masses of rain, but we are warm and dry inside.
Sudden changes: We were pretty happy to cross the Pyrenees in good weather, and this morning looked pretty good as we headed out with our full bellies. It was windy, but a warm wind. Two thirds of the way through our walk, we looked at the valley ahead and could see the rain coming, so we donned our wet gear. Then suddenly the skies opened, completely changing the tone of our walk. We were walking through an area that is subject to flooding, so the best decision was to walk fast! No lingering, no stopping for lunch, or to admire the scenery. We were focussed on trying to navigate around the quickly forming lake sized puddles. While Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, it doesn’t progress at an even rate, and I have often heard caregivers talk of sudden changes in the person they care for. Changes like not recognizing their partner, or no longer being able to dress themselves, or sudden mood or personality changes. The caregiver’s life is significantly altered almost overnight, and even though they know it’s coming, and prepared as best they could, they are still surprised; much as we were with the rain today.