In UK it’s showers that turn on in strange ways, or don’t turn on. Or you’re not allowed to use the shower because there’s no hot water. In Spain the showers are fine. It’s keys. At least when on a Camino, for this peregrina, making a way, it’s keys.
First its finding the person who holds the keys in the small village. We are usually hot and tired and just ready to fall into a bed of any kind. The “donde es las llaves?” question is at the tip of my tongue by now. But the heat, the anxiety and the expectations mean that it is a while before I understand and the other person understands what we need. I think I am speaking understandable Spanish, they often do not understand at first.
Often the place where the person who has the keys lives or works is closed for the afternoon. Then it’s locating the place where the keys belong, following directions to the albergue, usually up a hill we have just walked down. Once we find the place we insert the key into a lock and jiggle it until the door opens.
However, just tonight in a small town Colmenar, 40 km out of Madrid, the key issue hit us again. We found the accomodation with not too much trouble thanks to google maps. We settled into our room, received our 3 keys.
After a shower and a rest we went out and locked it as instructed with key no 1, through the self locking entrance to the second floor (key no 2 to get in again) down the stairs to the final door with key no 3. Learning from past mishaps I remained inside while Doug tried the key in the lock. Nothing. Again. Nothing. He tried repeatedly until a man who lives on the second floor came along, inserted his key, jiggled it around, and the door opened . We tried But still we could not get it right.
We phoned the owner. Her message said she was not answering till later as at a celebration. So Doug stayed inside while I went out to search for food and drink. After a series of messages back and forth on WhatsAp in Spanish, she arrived, gave us a lesson on key jiggling which we still could not manage. Finally she told us to press 2A bell when we wanted to come in and the door would open. By now we had been key studying for at least three hours on and off. This is Colmenar.
I later went to Mass at the Gothic Church on the hill. I held my breath as the priest went to open the tabernacle (where the host for communion is kept locked away) but he unlocked it on the second go.
Keys are a constant negotiation but I am getting better at finding and using them and less panicky. Posting stuff from a too heavy back pack is another matter. It’s also fraught with unforeseen problems.
Despite walking several caminos we always have too much which involves a trip to the post office to post surplus weight to a relative in the UK.
So the trip to the post office, the correo, throws up unexpected complications. We find the correo easily, take a number and wait. Just behind us were of different sized boxes so we fit 3. 8 kilos of stuff into the middle sized one, and stand in the queue. The Senora at the desk waves her arms and I realised that we had done something incorrectly. The lady next in line said we had used the wrong box and needed the external posting box. The Senora gets another box and we took everything out of the first box and placed it in the second.
That was just the beginning. Since Brexit UK post now requires customs forms and there were questions about contents and values. plus the hardest thing of all: the post code which initially I had wrong, and later the Senora read wrongly. The Lincoln address and the postcode elicited a lot of questions. An hour later we were finished. Hopefully the parcel arrives at its destination
However the Senora was polite and helpful at all times. So I get to “the other things”. The people are the wonderful things about Spain and walking. Thank you Senora Correo. Also the Senora in the Farmacia in Penabla, a small town two nights before Salamanca. She explained where the Camino exited the town and called the bar to ask the owner to open up for us that night (there was no shop there or other source of food). She listened patiently to find some remedies for my feet and an ankle strap.
In Fontiveros we were invited to join a poetry launch, tour of the historical city and invited to lunch (See Sambasue21.Blog at http://www.wordpress.com). In the next village one of the men who was a part of the celebration joined us outside the bar and talked to us about his family, Spain, political events. I recognise how hard it was to grasp our inadequate Spanish, and to converse with us. Also the bar man at the Bolero bar in Salamanca, who listened to us waffle on, and shared his love of music with us, taught me how to pronounce some words with the rolling of the lips. Finally thanks to the young guy at Salamanca station who told us we can get the Dorado (gold )card and spent time organising refunds and issuing the card. Gracias all of you.
It’s the ‘other things”that make a difference.