Airport Hotel Happiness

Ribadiso to Lavacolla
Tuesday 2 December

That Liquor No. 43 was not a good idea. I did not feel my best this morning, but was keen to hit the road. Could I make it to Santiago today? I was keen to try, and would walk as far as I could. There is an alburgue twenty kilometers before Santiago, and another four kilometers before. Too short or too far. There are some hotels near the airport, about twelve kilometers out of town that seemed a reasonable distance. We shall see.

It was a three kilometer walk until coffee this morning. As usual, I needed coffee. I saw a garage, crossed the road and in my daze bought a chocolate milk, and was flicking through a magazine left on the counter. The English musician arrived and commented that I was looking at men’s farm porn… I started to focus, and realised he was correct. The magazine was a tractor catalogue.

I continued to the next bar, a mere thirty meters ahead, and had coffee and a proper breakfast. Several others from the previous evening arrived… But I was on my way.

Today I happily walked alone, having had a fix of company. At first my pace was slow. The landscape was mostly eucalyptus. Give me a home among the gum trees. I then began to speed up to my now regular faster pace. Soon I was thinking of lunch. I didn’t want to linger, as had a later start, so thought a sandwich would do. Rounding a bend, the Korean from last night’s group, jumped out yelling my name, insisting I stop. There was a bar in the middle of nowhere, just when I needed it. And what a great bar. The ceiling was covered in hanging T-shirts – Camino cast offs and souvenirs, graffiti, and a very friendly host. It seemed it was party time again. Shots of a golden liquid were being poured, that looked suspiciously like No. 43, except this was homemade. I declined. I ordered a cheese sandwich. More people arrived. Another round of homemade drinks, this time a coffee liquor, so I tried it. Sweet nectar. The others had settled in for the afternoon, as their destination was not so far, but I had places to go. When I went to pay, the barmaid said the drinks were on the house, and made a small drawing in my credential as my stamp. Nice.

I continued walking, but as the afternoon faded, my big night was starting to catch up with me. I had passed the airport, but hadn’t seen any hotels and was getting tired. I found a hotel, but it was closed for winter. I had another fifteen or more kilometers to Santiago, but was too tired to walk that far. I saw another hotel from the back entrance, so was hard to see if it was open. I saw a light which looked promising, and happily it was open. It was a little more than I had planned to pay even with the pilgrims discount, but I was tired, so checked in. The room was large, well heated, and had a bathtub! Yes, a hot bath.

The hotel had a large, but almost empty Resturant. The pilgrim’s menu was a bit more expensive than usual. I wasn’t holding my breath that the food would be good. To my surprise, it was possibly the best meal I’ve had in Spain. Scollops for entrée, a paella, overflowing with fresh seafood, and the now ubiquitous Santiago cake, an almond tart. This was homemade, moist, and delicious. They also served cheese, and a very good bottle of wine. Full, tired and content, I retired to bed.

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