hotel bar, somewhere between two places, Asturias.
was just about as challenging as it gets.
left Soto de Luina about 9.30 this morning, there was a little bit of
rain, but nothing to really worry about. My back was doing okay, like
I said, I know it well, so I knew I’d be fine to walk for the day. I
was aiming somewhere in the region of 30kms which would bring me to a
decent sized town where there’d be lots of options of places to stay.
ate the dates I had with me for breakfast and a little after 12 I
stopped at a small place by the side of the road. I called, “Hello,”
and a squashy little woman yelled from the back and then poked her
head around the corner. She made me a coffee and we talked briefly
about how there hadn’t been too much rain. She said something about
how it was going to be fine all afternoon and I smiled back at her,
happy at the news. I asked her what sandwiches she had, she took her
time listing them, “Tortilla sandwich… I have ham… cheese… we
can do ham and cheese…” I interrupted her. I knew where this list
was going, it was the same list as everywhere else, I don’t know why
I asked. I ordered the tortilla, the safest way to avoid andy sketchy
ham or weird cheese- unless you can see it out front you can’t always
be sure if they’ll just give you the weird processed shit, even
though the good stuff is everywhere. We have this idea that Spaniards
and the French and such peoples eat great food all the time, but
we’re confusing the fact that they have great cuisines with the fact
that they regularly eat good food. They like their ghetto, processed
shit as much as the next retarded fatty.
tortilla sandwich is fine, it’s one of the things that really can’t
be fucked up. Even the worst example I’ve had is totally acceptable-
like wings or a BLT. I remember being in the worst diners in the US
and the one thing that was always made there and then, right in front
of you and was always at least okay, was a burger.
other man pops in while I’m there, he has an alcohol free beer and
then heads out. I pay my 4.50 and then make tracks. The rain starts
to come down a bit heavier, but there’s no wind so it’s okay. I catch
up on my BBC football podcast and an excellent interview between
Richard Herring and Steven Fry- he doesn’t so much interview Fry as
much as he says a word and then Fry goes into a monologue. I never
tire of his stories. I listen to a Bookclub archive from 2004 with
Will Self- another superb intellect. I’m not sure how I feel about
the little of his I’ve read, but I certainly enjoy him. Finally I
listen to a BCC Documentary about hotdog venders in Denmark. I’m
pack my iPhone away, the rain is coming down harder, I find myself
exposed on a hillside and it sweeps up in and around me. I’m
beginning to get properly soaked. Around 20kms along I see a sign for
an Albergue, I figure I’ll call it a day and stay here. Obviously,
it’s closed, there’s a phone number to call, but I can’t be fucked
with the admin to then discover that it’s closed until April 1st.
I walk on, there’ll be something soon, there’re a bunch of places
listed on the road signs at varying distances. It’ll be fine.
is in no way fine.
decided to stay on the road as a pose to taking the
dangerous-dog-muddy- woodland-murder-scene-route. That was all well
and good, but I find myself winding up and down hills on an endless
succession of switchbacks and hairpin turns. The rain is hammering
me, I’m drenched. The point where the water drains off my waterproof
jacket meets perfectly at my groin meaning that an especially large
downpour manages to hit my cock. At least it’s finally getting some
attention. Even though I need to piss, I feel reluctant to whip it
out during the tempest- and it seems weird to need to expel water in
such a situation.
on I see a man on the road, walking along with an umbrella. I accost
him and ask if there’s a hotel nearby, he names a town at the next
turn, telling me that it’s about 4kms away. I charge on, singing at
the top of my lungs in the rain, going through moments of courage
where I relish the challenge, followed by a dip in form where I
imagine myself dead in a ditch. I see the corpse of a cat by the side
of the road, its entire jaw, teeth intact has been ejected from the
skull so violent and particular must the collision have been.
march down the hill, ignoring the pain in my heels, ignoring spasms
that occur in random body parts and for no discernible reason, I
ignore my hunger until it becomes clear that I have to stop, unpack
my mixed nuts and recharge. As cars go by, I wonder why no one has
the urge to ask if I’m okay. There’s no one else on the roads
anywhere, I’m obviously enduring something here. A lorry charges by
and I imagine it hitting me, my jaw shooting out onto the roadside
like that poor cat.
turn at the roundabout, descending into the town that has a hotel. I
walk through this ‘town,’ there’s nothing, there’s a river, a barn
with cows, some abandoned houses, a small bridge. I cross the bridge,
taking partial shelter near the trees- the rain still hits me, but
just from above, not from the side as it has been for the last four
or five hours. I consider hitchhiking, but after this thought I don’t
see car for some time. I stick my thumb out to a lorry- nothing- the
car who indicates that here’s turning into a side road. I give up and
continue to walk, I stick my thumb out to a car behind me, the man
just points forward as if to say, “I’m just going here.” A few
hundred yards ahead and I see a building, there are at least three
cars parked outside. I see a sign saying, ‘Hotel,’ I almost start
skipping. A man with a goatee and ponytail is out front pushing the
water out from under the awning. I ask if he has a room. He says,
yes. I giggle with glee and start swearing in English. I walk inside
and crush a beer, it seems appropriate, i ask for a brandy, but the
woman has none and so pours me a dry sherry- completely not what I
was expecting but I drink it back. I am drenched.
cannot explain the last five hours of walking in the rain. As it was
happening I was thinking that I had to try and recall what it felt
like, but it’s almost as though as soon as it has passed my mind
wipes it away. I remember thinking- this is one of the hardest things
I’ve ever done and I don’t remember being this
wet/tired/despondent/helpless at various points.
I made it. As I had to really. And isn’t that all part of this
uplifting bullshit, isn’t that why we do these sorts of things? It’s
fucking ridiculous really, isn’t it. Some people are regularly in
peril and discomfort because it’s their job, others, like me, do it
because we have no idea how to enjoy a normal holiday.
shower using more hot water than one should. I hang my dripping
clothes around the room- which, btw, is only 20E and absolutely
lovely- double bed, marble bathroom, excellent shower with a thing
that holds the shower head in place for you with no risk of flying
off and causing mayhem. I tuck myself into the bed to warm up and use
the excellent Wifi and then I eat my leftover paella with my hands.
In bed. There’s no one looking, it’s fine.
before 9 I bowl downstairs and eat some grilled fish and potatoes and
have some wine. There’s some U21 footy on, I drink some wine, I write
this, I feel glad and too tired for any kind of that melancholy that
has been hanging around me of late.