Somebody not in the know might protest, “Something’s got to be open.” Forget it. In these small villages through which El Camino ran, everything was boarded up.
Due to the unexpected delay, we didn’t enter the old part of Los Arcos until the late afternoon. You could have heard a pin drop.
“Everybody’s asleep,” I noted.
“Everybody’s dead,” Gavin countered.
“They must have run out of paella.”
“No, it was ETA again.”
“The siesta is the finest invention of the Spanish people,” Winston Churchill once proclaimed. But for those unfortunate enough to arrive in town hungry at siesta hour—and this is very often when El Camino pilgrims arrive—it can be a very solemn experience. It felt like we were on a hunger strike.
“It’s about time to try this paella you keep raving about, Bill.”
“At this point, I’d settle for roadkill,” I muttered.
“You can forget that,” he countered. “Look around, the car hasn’t even been discovered in this town yet.” Indeed, it’s not that uncommon in Spain or many other European countries for adults to not own a car. I actually find that appealing compared to America, where not having a car is the last step before taking to dumpster diving.
We continued wandering through the baking hot, anonymous alleys, bereft of any ideas as to where to go. The town seemed devoid of any type of life. A stray cat suddenly sprung across the street in front of us. “That cat looks like steak,” Gavin quickly said.
When a person travels overseas, the main thing he or she is looking for is something different—maybe even strange. For that reason, I decided to return and do El Camino de Santiago for a second straight year. More than any other foreign trip I have ever taken, the Camino had represented a kind of United Nations of adventurous souls.
Gavin had contracted hiking fever himself and was racing up the Appalachian Trail as fast as he could after his freshman year at Virginia Tech. So immediately I was looking for interesting trekking partners. And this being the Camino, I was to find them. It just kinda’ happened by chance. Well mostly, anyway.