Today began in cold pre-dawn darkness with a beautiful golden moon gradually sinking below the horizon. We passed the halfway point in distance yesterday and it seems to be getting monotonous.
I offered a 12 pill strip of ibuprofen to Peter because he was all out and I had extra. He gave me a chunk of his Milka chocolate bar. This is the economy of the Camino, along with baguettes, apples, nuts. Its all Italians in this hostel. I saw more bikers than walkers today. Many people take a bus through this part “The Meseta”. Four gentle women attendants stamped each of our “pilgrim passports” and gave us sheets for the bed. Anders chided me as I put only 2 euro coins in the donation box. I didn’t have any cash left and didn’t feel like going out to search for an ATM.
Anders, Peter, Alex and I cooked zucchini, pasta, beans and sat at a table next to a group of 8 Italians. They were loud and quintessentially Southern European with their gesturing and commitment to wine and laughter. After dinner, a 50 year old curvaceous Italian woman who didn’t speak English offered us her tables’ leftover cookies and proceeded to give each of us a full lipped, wet kiss on the cheek.
Afterward on the patio across the street we watched pilgrims and locals play soccer and it felt warm and communal. Two Italians with an oboe and trombone played mediocre versions of Let it Be and Kashmir.
“And they are carrying those instruments on their backs for their whole hike?” Alex said what we were all thinking.
The sensual Italian woman danced in her form-fitting short body skirt to Mr. Saxobeat, that some guy blared from his car speakers in the middle of the street. Alex showed us his special soccer kick and scored on the 12 year old Spanish goalie. Anders and I commiserated over the complete absence of chewing tobacco in Spain. We each shared stories of drunken debauchery.
Alex detailed his brief “Camino Romance” with a 38 year old Venezuelan woman from a few days before. He was half Chilean and had South American facial features so he held appeal for those women. He had to out walk her the next day because she was clingy and emotionally unstable. Not a small feat for a shy 21 year old guy. The guys had a few beers and became less inhibited. Anders informed me that he was a licensed gun owner and had taken a 6 month course consisting of textbook theory and field shooting tests in Denmark to become certified. He went on hunting trips once a year.
“And yet you continue on with your sermons about American stupidity and rampant gun deaths. What do you do with the body of the deer?” I said. Anders also found it funny that “Kinder surprise” candy had been banned in the US “because the American kids were too stupid not to eat the mini toy in the chocolate!”
“We just throw the deer’s body out.” He said.
I laughed along with Peter, and Alex. “Well, the deer eat rabbits and squirrels, so its helping to balance things out.” He retorted.
“Right.” I said with a smile.
I then compared this to the etiquette disposing of roadkill.
“If you hit a cat with your car, you would probably get out and piss on the corpse.” Peter said looking at Anders. We all laughed.
Later, the nun-like women corralled all the pilgrims into their bedrooms at the 10 pm curfew. The log cabin was cozy and homey, it brought me back to the trips my family took to Montauk when I was 7-9 years old.