The Arsehole of Spain

Hontanas to Itero del Vega
Friday 14 November

Today was my birthday. Fifty. Half a century. Entering the wise years, as my friend had commented. Hopefully that is true, otherwise it’s all downhill.

I went downstairs and everyone was waiting with birthday kisses and wishes. It was nice to be together with my new Camino friends, and my brother. Miss Venezuela presented me with a muffin with a rather large candle, and everyone sang happy birthday. We decide on a destination for today that would hopefully have an Alburgue open, and said we would meet everyone there later for Birthday celebrations. We all soon departed, walking at our own pace, some of us walking together and chatting, or occasionally alone.

On the way we passed a dead owl near the road. It was completely intact, and I wondered how it had died. I wondered about it’s bum.

We soon arrived in Castrojeriz, a really lovely little town. There were several buildings for sale, and my brother and I fantasized about buying one and opening an Albergue. We stopped in a lovely bar, and had a delicious mushroom tortilla that was accompanied by a pungent mushroom soup. We could have stayed all day. We passed a small store, where I restocked the emergency cheese, and was given a taste of an artisan pate made from mushrooms, which seemed to be the speciality of this town. We passed the Alburgue and met up with the Englishman with the guitar we had met in Granon. He wished me a Happy Birthday, and played me a song. Delightful. A few of the group had gone on ahead, but the remainder of us decided the climb a nearby hill up to the ruins of a castle.

The climb was easy, and didn’t take too long, and the castle was well worth visiting the view was magnificent, and you could see for miles in every direction. We climbed down, and our Italian friend decided to wait for our other Italian friend, while we continued walking.

My brother and I walked mostly with a young New Zealander we had met that day, that the rest of our group had met previously. On the way a car pulled up, and a man got out to hand us a brochure for his bar in Itero del Vega. We thought it odd that he was trying to drum up business. We soon arrived in Itero del Vega, and were quickly disappointed. This soulless town had nothing going for it modern and ugly buildings, and not a soul in the streets. We considered walking onto the next town, but it was fourteen kilometers away, and it was getting late. We would have to stay, so we went about trying to find place to stay. There was a private Alburgue that was really just a regular suburban house. It had four bedrooms, and seven beds. There were seven of us, as our Irish friend had walked ahead, so it was perfect, snorers could be separated, and we would all sleep well. The decor was rather ugly, but homely. As we were exploring the house, we opened one door to find it was a garage, complete with car!

My brother, my Dutch friend and I went to the bar that had had the successful marketing campaign earlier. I don’t know why they bothered, as it was the only bar open. It was also vey ugly, with decor from the early eighties – lots of drug references and skulls. I felt I was in a David Lynch film. I tried to google the translation for the name of the town, but the only world that translated was Vega – it meant bottom, that was about right.

We ate a vey average sandwich, and looked at the menu then made the decision to find something else for dinner. We discussed cooking a meal together in the kitchen, but thought we may find something else. My brother left me, and went to plan my birthday dinner. He returned soon after to say that the Alburgue owner was going to cook for us. He had bought some wine and snacks, so we returned to the house.

I showered, but we had run out of hot water, so it was quick. We prepared the table for dinner. The first course was soup. It was awful, and tasted like an instant powered soup. My brother commented that it was “well heated”. Soon the second course arrived, stone cold grilled chicken and salad. Unfortunately, this was not well heated. Dessert was a choice of an apple, a packet yoghurt or an icecream cone. Not the best birthday dinner ever, but the company was good, and we all thought it was hilarious.

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