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Tuesday
Jul212009

The Bro-mance Continues

And just like that, with our reconnection at the bus stop - Bret in his pink linen shirt and I in my standard khaki hiking shorts and blue salt/sweat encrusted Patagonia shirt, 30 lbs. backpack in tow - the Jack Will Travel bro-mance was back on.

As I said earlier, since Bret was broke and had but 2 Euro on his person (the bartender the previous night felt sorry for him so he gave him a free beer), luckily for both of us I had about 40 Euro in my wallet. The two of us went back to the campsite and where normally Bret would be all anxious to get going, practically threatening to leave me, he was more than patient with me, letting me not only set up my tent and campsite, but also let me take a shower after the morning’s walk.

About an hour later we found ourselves at a bus stop and after sitting at what we thought was a bus stop for some time, we determined – or at least we think we did from a Spanish woman – that the bus only came through town twice a day. Later we determined in fact - again, putting our high school Spanish to the test - that a bus didn’t actually come through this town. What we both found hilarious, was that just a day or two prior, Bret was saying, “People just have to get out there and do stuff like this. The last thing they should worry about is the language barrier.” Our travels might have gone a tad smoother if we were a bit more familiar with Spanish, however.

And so we walked back up through the town to a convergence in the road where to the right we would be going back to Najera, and to the left would take us to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. With hiking to these towns not really being an option after my morning speed-jaunt, we decided to hitch hike.

The first car zipped past us without so much as even a glance at the sun burnt foreigners dressed in alien garb.

“Timbo, you be the point guy because you look like a nicer guy. Just throw out your thumb and smile real big,” Bret said. “Let’s count how many cars it takes us.”

No sooner had I done this, than the second car that passed picked us up. This is too easy I thought. How is this one going to go horribly awry? Will we wake up somewhere in a tub of ice missing a kidney? So Bret and I jumped in the car with a man who spoke no English.

We explained as best we could that we had no “dinero” and asked him if he could drive us wherever he was going, which in this case was Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Bret jumped in the shot gun and I rode in the back.

 

Bret and the Sound of Silence

 

It’s moments like these that always crack me up with Bret. I don’t know if he doesn’t like the silence or if he gets nervous, but he tends to just go on with observations even though the other person has no idea what he’s saying.

“It’s very hot out here. Lots of sun. Very bright. Make your eyes hurt,” he might say for instance, driving home what he is saying by pointing to the sky, fanning himself, or pretending to put sunglasses to his face.

“Many wheat fields and vineyards around here.” When Bret speaks to break the silence in these moments you can count on not hearing any stunning revelations about the nature of man or the human condition. Almost everything he says in these instances, should the other person have any idea what he was saying, could be replied to with, “No, shit Sherlock,” or, “Thank you, stater-of-the-obvious.”

And so what could have been a very long afternoon of walking turned into a 12 minute ride of Bret’s topical observations.

The first thing we did when we got into town was pull out 200 Euro each so as to ensure we weren’t going to make this mistake again. Although everything was relatively cheap, we didn’t know how long we were going to be in these parts and we didn’t want to take any chances. In town, we took some time to explore the church in Santo Domingo de la Calzada It was impressive and very high tech. Not sure where the Euros are coming from but they are definitely flowing into its appearance and upkeep. After the church, we grabbed a 10 Euro menu del dia lunch and headed to the Office of Tourism to post some content.

 

Getting Taken For a Ride by Jesus

 

To use the Office of Tourisms computers or even their wireless, you had to be a pilgrim; lucky for us the night before I purchased my pilgrim credentials for 1 Euro at the Albergues. They take this pilgrimage thing very seriously in these parts, so showing my credentials, and the fact that I got stamped in the town prior to Santo Domingo de la Calzada made us look legit. The credentials made us feel like we were finally part of the club, or at least as if we got upgraded from coach to business class.

The was a sign on the wall that read “15 minute limit” but we took advantage of the situation in the pilgrim’s lounge because it had air condition and leather couches. Immediately we set up shop and pulled out our laptops and cameras, and in addition to my own laptop, I was working on the Office of Tourism’s desktop as well. We were passing content pack and forth on thumb drives and SD cards, not your typical tasks for your average pilgrim.

After we got our first video up, we had achieved the tasks we set out to accomplish in the big city. We didn’t have the fortitude to hitch hike home (or feel like our luck could be repeated) so Jesus (not the savior but the cab driver) “took us for a ride” back to our campsite - for 25 Euro.

“Jesus,” I said. “Jesus just ripped us off.”

Hey, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; sometimes when you’re in another country at the mercy of someone else, you’ve got to nut-up and pay a little extra to get done what you have to get done.

 

Nightmare on Calle Street – Part II

 

When we got back the campsite, the pool was open so we took a nice swim and just lay around in the hot Spanish sun. We kept talking about doing a Jack Will Travel fitness segment, but that’s just one of the many we never got around to.

As I may have said earlier, getting power for our equipment has been a challenge. It must be very expensive because when people see you plugging in at a bar or restaurant, they act as if you are stealing their electricity – and so – that is what we did. Bret needed to charge his computer so he very casually plugged it into an electric outlet that was part of a mobile home hook-up. He said it was somewhat hidden, but as we later discovered, it in fact was not hidden at all.

While we charged the computer, we walked the kilometer from Berceo to San Millan de la Cogolla to see this monastery that Bret kept talking about.

“Timbo, you’re really not going to believe this place.” And he was right.

When we finally reached the Monastery I was in complete awe and literally speechless. It is, without a doubt, one of the most stunning specimens of history I have ever laid my eyes on.

I would like to go on about its magnificence at this point, but I didn’t even have time to enjoy it. No sooner had we arrived than we looked back in the direction we had come to see black, ominous clouds moving swiftly towards us.

“Oh fuck. Are you kidding me? Not again” I said to the sky in exasperation.

Having learned our lessons about rainstorms in Spain, our rain flies were up and our tents tightly secured; HOWEVER, Bret’s Mac was laying out only in a plastic bag. And so began the nightmare on Calle Street – Part II.

While Bret was somewhat lackadaisical in our retreat, I was taking no chances. We started back in a light jog and about halfway home, I broke into an all out flip-flop sprint. I was taking no chances. If Bret’s Mac got ruined in the rain that would be the final nail in Jack Will Travel’s coffin. Losing the HD camera was one thing, but I didn’t think we’d be able to recover from a dead laptop. The problem was I didn’t know where the Mac was hidden, so I came tearing into the campsite in a sweat, running up and down the main stretch where the computer most likely was, not noticing the barrel-chested man staring me down.

 

Be Careful Whose Electricity You Steal

 

When Bret finally caught up to me while I rested my hands on my knees dry-mouthed and panting like a dog who has been playing in the hot sun, Bret’s computer was nowhere to be found. Great, we thought; we beat the rain but what we didn’t count on was the computer getting stolen. And then, the barrel-chested man who spoke little English appeared.

To give you an idea of what this man looked like, imagine someone who works in sanitation in perhaps Newark, New Jersey or Long Island, New York. And I’m not talking about someone who collects garbage off the street; more like in the “management” area of sanitation – a.k.a., the type of guy who makes bodies disappear. I suppose you could call him a Spanish Soprano.

The shit-house brick-layer of a man walked up and into Bret’s personal space as I watched from a small distance. The large man asserted that Bret was using HIS electricity, pointing his big thick finger at the computer and then his even bigger pecs.

Bret did the smart thing, which we were getting closer to perfecting; play the dumb tourist, but it seemed the large man wasn’t buying it - so Bret did the next best thing. He went to the store at the campsite and bought the Spanish Soprano man and his wife a bottle of wine. Like a calculated chess match, Bret was a move ahead of his adversary and bought him the middle of the road bottle of wine - (not the cheap one) – knowing very well that man would be able to check the price at the camp ground grocery store.

New Jack Will Travel Policy: If you steal someone’s electricity, buy them a bottle of wine. 

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