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  • Writer's pictureWill

such is life

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

Following on from waiting, day 15 - 20, Monday, 22nd – 27th April 2013

Jaca to Puente La Reina , 131km – 5 days.

Photo: looking back to the Pyrenees

What a fantastic start to my day. First of all because I gave my socks a good wash they were no longer shaped into left and right feet. As a bonus, they didn’t smell (too bad).

Over the next few days, the sun and wind had an argument over who controlled the thermostat. I developed the knack of putting on, and taking off, my fleece and jacket while walking. The path was easy to follow because I was basically walking westwards down the valley containing the río Aragón.

Map: from Jaca to Puenta La Reina

I would skirt the Yesa reservoir and the environmental carnage of partly or entirely forsaken villages.

Photo: so many abandoned villages.

The landscape would alternate between forests on low mountains, wide open farmland and a harsh erosion created mineral moonscape. I would not get lost and I would meet some wonderful people.

Photo: beautiful empty tracks, no trouble with route finding.

The first amazing character I met en route was Giuseppe from Milan. His head was the shape of a cannonball, where the hair on the top half had been sucked out by the bottom half. His scalp was polished tarmac and his face a neglected garden. A veritable facial explosion of black, white and grey hair. When he was eating, he had to swipe the hair aside so the food could enter his mouth, it was not a pretty sight.

There were the five French nuns on a hiking holiday who chattered in lovely sing song voices. They had an awesome French Camino guidebook, the beautifully named Miam Miam Dodo, baby talk for “eat eat sleep”.

They also introduced me to an incredible invention, it’s called “handwash laundry soap”. In return, I made them laugh. When using shower gel, you need to use a lot for a sweaty pair of socks. When using this modern invention, you need a tad less. There was a lot of soap suds in my sink. The soap suds were oozing out the plug holes from the two sinks either side of me. The soap was spewing out the drain and all over the floor. I thought nuns were supposed to be nice. This lot were crying with laughter, one was having an asthma attack. Took me half an hour to clear up.

In one alburgue there were fifteen of us, six females and nine males. There were two bathrooms with a single shower, sink and toilet, one for men and one for women. I was about 8th in line for my shower, all the women were finished. And I thought “why not use their bathroom?” Made perfect sense to me but when I tried, there were disapproving shakes of multiple heads. Apparently, men using the women’s bathroom, even if there are no women around is a big social no no. I decided to wait my turn.

At last, my turn. Door locked and “what the …”. There was “mess” on the toilet seat, the lid, the toilet handle, the floor and even on the wall. Did somebody explode in here? Did the beast who caused this toxic incident not know where his butthole was situated?

Later in the evening I needed to go to the loo. I was not going to use the men’s toilet so I waited for an opportunity to surreptitiously use the women’s bathroom. Seriously, it was spotlessly clean, there was even a vase of fresh flowers on the window sill. No wonder they wanted to stop men using their bathroom. Such is life.


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