Apologies to the army of fans for the unconscionable delay between blogs, but I have been distracted by:
1. Arguing with builders
2. Walking the Camino.
The latter, though arduous, is infinitely preferable. The former has increased my vocabulary a fair bit, though not enough. While it is handy to know, for example, that the big carts tractors pull around are ‘remolques’ I also feel the need of a few handy words such as ‘asshole,’ ‘dunderhead,’ and ‘pillock.’ Still and all, as we bloggers say, when we can’t think of anything else, progress is being made.
Reb, my wife, suggested I should ‘get the stink blown off me,’ like she did, by taking a hike from Jaca to Puente de la Reina. This is on the Ruta Aragones, and compared with the regular Camino, it is tough and very beautiful. The two go together, because if you want to walk through mountains, naturally, you have to deal with many tiring ups and downs, and a lot of dangerous, unstable, rocky ground.
I had forgotten most of this, as people do.
You look at a map of the day’s walk and think, well, it’s only 30k, that’s only 18 miles, and I have got all day, and forget all the horrors involved , like carrying about 18lb on your back, including a big bottle of water – because there’s none for 5 miles, and you don’t take into account that the temperature might well be 90 or so. And the walk that you thought would take six hours, takes eight. And at the end, you are weary and sad. And the village where you stop has no bar, or worse, there is one, but it is shut for the summer vacation.
The strangest incident was in Ruesta, a deserted village about 70 miles south of Pamplona, which has been leased by the Communist Party, who want to restore it, for some reason. So far they have done up a hostel with some sort of bar and a kitchen. When we pilgrims arrived, the commies were eating lunch, about 5 of them. They greeted us with grunts and nods. I sat alongside them in the shade for about 5 minutes, and then asked if there was any chance of a drink. They held a short committee meeting, and agreed, that by a majority decision, yes, a drink was possible. Two of them then formed a sub-committee and agreed that one of them would fetch it. What would I like? Any chance of a gin and tonic, said I. The sub committee then re-convened with the majority group and seemed to be debating whether this was too hopelessly bourgeois to merit further consideration. A beer would do nicely, I suggested. But on a show of nods, a unanimous decision was reached. If the effete, middle-class ex-catspaw of the ruling class wants a bleeding Vera, the party is fully equal to the task, distasteful and even degrading though it may be to honest sons of toil. A comrade disappeared into the bar. After five more minutes, he emerged with a glass of clear liquid that looked like a gin and tonic, but tasted like something else. But it had ice and alcohol and was really ok, not very unpleasant all. But, it seemed to me that it did not bode well for the prospects of the oncoming revolution.
P.S., This has nothing to do with the above, but I read today that Bush’s popularity level has sunk to an all time low, that seven out of every ten American voters have realized that he is no better than a Spanish builder. The appalling concomitant is that there are still three out of ten who have yet to figure it out, and probably never will.
P.P.S., For some reason this reminds me of something Flaubert wrote, "To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness. Though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost."