Camino de Madrid

Camino de Madrid
Camino de Madrid

Monday, 21 September 2015

Day 8. September 21, 2015. Bilbao to Pobena. 27 kms

Adam wore a fig leaf,
But I'd as lief, sink my teeth, into the fruit beneath.
Verily, warily, I open it wide,
For there inside may worms abide.

Don't stay at this Alberge de Peregrinos if want to enjoy a few beers in the evening. The Alberge is two kilometres from and 300 feet above the nearest bar, and the toilets are a hundred yards away from the dorm. 

Now this could happen anywhere, of course, but during the night I was awoken by probably the loudest snoring I have ever heard: a cross between the roar of the MGM lion, only ten times as loud, and the sound of bath water going down the plughole, or down the gurgler as Australians would say. It was probably a Spaniard, but it may have been the German, for at times it sounded like a Panza tank. When I took the long hike to the washroom, I could still hear him a hundred yards away.

The walk was fairly easy today, but seemed longer than it was supposed to be. I spent most of the morning walking along the west bank of the Rio Nervion to Portugalete. No hills for a change! And then it was west along footpaths and bicycle trails to the sea.

Fig trees grow wild along the roads. The figs aren't quite ripe yet, or more likely the ripe ones have already been picked. I always examine them very carefully, a habit from childhood, for the figs in our back yard had often been attacked by fruitflies.

At Portugalete, I ran into a young Spanish couple who had spent the night at the Alberge. They had been talking about the snoring and wanted to know how to spell the word in English. They said they were interested in etymology and informed me that the word "mosquito" was of Spanish origin and meant "little fly".

Every so often, I receive a comment. This time I'm going to publish it in full, because it arrived at a very appropriate time. It comes from my old mate George, who hails from the land of the kangaroo and the recent prime minister who described his country as the suppository of good fortune. Here it is:
You speak of boots with reverence with no mention of their partner, the humble sox. Thick sox are necessary for old walkers with depleted padding on the ball of their foot. Sadly, thick sox dry too slowly for the transient pilgrim and so the answer is to wear three pair of thin sox. Rotate the sox, washing the inner sox each day for comfort  and convenience.
Every peregrino has a routine to pass onto the ignorant and inexperienced. What is your number one recommendation for travellers.

Are you walking to or away from some reality that you are not sharing with us?

The last question is a little close to the bone. Only yesterday at breakfast we were talking about someone who had walked 16 caminos. Someone asked rhetorically, how many caminos does a person have to do? Perhaps I will come back to that one.

That reminds me of another Australian prime minister ( I forget whom), who years ago, was interviewed by Time Magazine. He had asked for the questions in advance so he could prepare his answers, but at the end of the interview he was thrown a zinger: "What do you see as Australia's future?" He replied, "Aw, can I get back to you on that one."

As for the socks, you might like to follow George's suggestion. Everybody has their own preference. I wear Tilleys or Darn Toughs because they have a guarantee against wearing out. I wear them out and get a replacement. Free socks for the rest of my life!

I'll tell you what happens when I take them back. I think it would make a good discussion in an ethics class on the topic "Moral Culpability and the Malleable Conscience". With me, it's the heels that go; I return the socks when the heels are quite threadbare. One employee says that the company won't accept them unless there's a hole in them, and then produces a pair of scissors, spikes the socks, and gives me a new pair. Another employee says that the company won't accept them unless there's a hole in them, and then produces a pair of scissors, gives them to me, and turns his back. I say, perhaps I'll wear them a little longer. Both the employees ask me, did I wash my socks? Apparently, they have to live with the basket of worn-outs until they send them back at the end of the year.

I appreciate George's comment about the ball of his foot. I was having severe pain in my foot a couple of days ago as I walked on the rough track in the forest. I was thinking that I might have to take my boots back to MEC because they didn't fit, but I losened them off and that solved the problem. I remembered one of my own tips: it is far better to buy boots that are too large rather than too small. Feet swell. 

As for the tips, I published a list on 29 June, 2012, if you want to look for it in the archives of this blog.

Some bear repetition. Only this morning I was caught yet again in a toilet with a timed switch and when it timed out, I had to feel my way around in the dark to find it. Usually, the timer in the switch is set to leave the light on for about a minute, and I don't know about you, but that's not long enough for me.

If only a chap
Could have a crap,
While sitting in the light.
I need some time
To spend a dime,
Before the fall of night.

So when you go into the cubicle, make sure you know where the switch is, so that you can turn the light back on if it goes out.

It is good to be back at the coast. I was regretting that I had not brought my bathers to take advantage of this amazing beach, but the weather is getting colder and windier by the minute, so I wouldn't have gone swimming anyway.

I am writing this in the dorm at the alberge at Pobena. It is completo. All the beds are taken,12 double bunks, cheek by jowl, and the pilgrim overflow, another dozen or so, sleep on mattresses in the dining room. This is not what I expected on this Camino. These are the numbers typical of the Camino Frances, but from one account, the crowds there are "horrendous". As someone said, it's all because of the film.

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