Bilbao and people are bugging me  (Not really, I am bugging myself) 

Every fucking person on the planet snores except for me. Actually, I don’t know if I snore but I have had plenty of bed mates and nobody has ever said that I did. I do talk in my sleep though, apples and oranges. 

I woke up missing my damn dog and thought that perhaps I should cut my trip short and go home and tool around in the desert of Utah. My friend is posting tons of pictures of his month out camping and hiking. He works for the Olympics so he’s on holiday until it’s time for him to go to Japan. (That’s the next Olympics, right?)

 How many old churches can you see? And how many quaint cafes can you sit in? I’m just being a pain in the ass, don’t mind me. 

The good news is that I made it to my sweet hostel and it’s just around the corner from the Guggenheim. A two hour bus ride from San Sebastian. 

The room is only females with five bunk beds. And so far its just me and another person in the room. Being Monday, I am hoping that is all for tonight.  Not that that helps the snoring factor. There was an American-Filipino lady that had some serious sleep apnea and was a complete bitch a few nights back. The Danish girl kept waking her up because it was so awful. The Danish girl and I could speak Swedish to each other- so that made it funny but still…. she should get a private room. 

Tomorrow my plan is to spend some time at the Guggenheim and do some laundry. The armpits of all of my shirts smell after a single wear and it’s embarrassing. 

I need to get back to the Camino del Compostella. I miss the peregrinos. It’s a different lifestyle, kinda like a Grateful Dead show. Everyone helps each other out and wants to chat regardless of your language skills. My knee is definitely on the mend. I walked with my backpack from the bus station to the hostel which about 6 kilometers and I felt fine, except that Google maps can kiss my ass. It kept sending me in circles.  

So, that’s it for today. Going to find some food. Going to have a good rest. Going to pray I meet some nice folks and see some art and then head back to the trail. I like the smaller towns so I might try to go past Leon or just before it…. non lo so. 

Don’t be a hero

My room at the hostel is co-ed and last night it was full. Three guys, myself and a Russian girl. Around one in the morning two of the dudes (Spanish, I think) came stumbling in from a night of partying. In and out of the room. They were hitting each other and just being drunk assholes. I laid there watching them and hoping they would settle down and go to bed. Naw. The blonde one just stood in the middle of the room swaying and the Russian girl was looking at her phone. We didn’t say anything, waited for him to figure out that he needed to lay down but instead of lying down, he sat on the Russian girl’s bed. She flipped out and I don’t blame her, they were making me nervous too. He started arguing with her when she told him to get off her bed. Soon he turned on the light and wanted to fight. So, I sat up and told him in my best social worker voice that he needed to get in his bed or go out of the room to party some more. He wasn’t having it. And he was really ticked off at the Russian girl. After about five minutes of not being able to get through to him, she jumped up and ran out and returned with a very handsome but intimidating black man who worked for the hostel, who told him if he didn’t go to bed they were going to call the police. I kinda wish the police would have come just for the drama sake of bullshit. 

The Russian girl grabbed all of her belongings and said she wasn’t staying there. Pretty much in tears and really pissed/scared. I followed her out to validate her story and they took her somewhere else to sleep. She thanked me for saving her. (I didn’t really do anything but ok.)  They offered me a different place too. I almost took it but there was a Canadian guy as well in the room that I trusted so I stayed. Plus my bag was unpacked and it was the middle of the night, I went out for a smoke and by the time I got back to the room, the two dudes were snoring. The staff assured me if anything else happened they would be kicked out of the hostel and go with the police. 

Stupid drunk people. I  hope they feel like hell this morning and are leaving today. Our room smells like a freshman boys’ college dorm. Ugh. I’ve opened the window and I am heading to the beach.  Buenas Dias 

Sunsets and books 

I met a German girl who had been living in Spain and is now on her way home. She dragged me out to see the sunset last night and then we went and had pinchos. She taught me about the app Couch Surfers and I think it’s going to be beneficial to my journey. It’s the way to meet like minded traveling friends in this new world of technology, which I am so thankful for, I can Google anything. Never have traveled like this before… with the internet in my pocket. 

While my knee definitely feels to be on the mend, I am still trying to stay off of it. I fortunately found a book store and picked up Scarlett Thomas’s The Seed Collectors. It will help to pass the time and not stare at Facebook waiting for likes on my status updates until I get back to the Camino. 

As for sobriety-  I don’t know. I am still committed to becoming sober for long-term. I am doing well. I feel like my spirit has changed just in the short two weeks of being in Spain. I have a deeper understanding of myself and I feel easy and free. I have had to listen a lot to my body and apparently my personality and essence is acceptable to those I have met. I am good with being me- finally-  I hope it lasts. 

San Sebastian, Spain 

I don’t even know where to start, I finally went to the doctor, which was hilarious because my Spanish is terrible and he didn’t speak English, thank God for Google translate. He said most likely that I had torn my meniscus. I don’t know how, I didn’t feel anything pop or twist it, weird. It just slowly started to hurt worse and worse and by the end of the 15 miles or so of that day, I was hobbling and in tremendous pain. I have never had an injury before so this was all new to me.  

I spent two days hobbling around and stayed with “my people” by bus and a taxi. 

Finally, I said fuck it and decided to go north to San Sebastian. I got here yesterday by bus and it went very smoothly, even though I had no idea how to catch a bus or where I was going or where I was going to stay but it has all worked out like it was planned. 

I have had some wine but I haven’t been drunk and I can stop after one glass. I feel ok about it. I am not going to overdo it because there is nothing more vulnerable than to be a drunk single female traveller. And I can use all of the extra calories. 

As for my traveling companion, I had to ditch her. I wanted to get rid of her on the first day in Barcelona because she is a typical American tourist and complained about everything-  the toilet, the food, the language. She’d get lost and panic if she turned a corner. Plus she wasn’t very fun. Our deal before we left was for me to help her get on the Camino and then we would do it by ourselves. She had something else in mind after we got here I guess because she realized how incapable of doing things on her own she was or something, I don’t know. She doesn’t really have a lot of cultural/travel experience, so I know she was in shock, and I really tried to be compassionate but it was wearing me down. It kept me up at night. You can try to teach people but you can’t change their mindset. 

We walked for 3 days. She would get upset if I went ahead of her but I had to get up those hills at my own pace or I would never make it. She’s from Florida so these were big hills she had never seen let alone hiked. (She said she hiked in Tennessee but I am beginning to doubt it.) Thank God we missed the really big hills and started the Camino in Pamplona instead of France.  

Anyway, too much togetherness for me. By the time my knee started acting up, I knew that was a sign for me to buggar off and go do something else. So, here I am at the coast. I found a lovely hostel right in the city, a two minute hobble from the beach. 

I slept twelve hours last night in a really comfortable bed with a down comforter. And my knee feels so much better. It’s almost like nothing has happened to it. (Almost, I hope it goes back to normal.)

I am going to spend the weekend here. Go to Bilbao on Monday and to the Guggenheim museum on Tuesday  (the museum is closed on Mondays) and then try to head to Leon and start the Camino again. I hear it gets flatter from there. And I miss the pilgrim community. I have met some really nice and interesting folks from all over. An 82 year old Scotsman from Cambridge, a crazy 72 year old Australian with a hilarious sense of humor who has been all over the planet and some Dutch women that have been so sweet and inspiring. And tons of other people. But I will talk to anyone and if you listen to what they say, they will keep going and soon you are fast friends. 

It’s been really easy to stay in the moment on this expedition because just buying fruit is an adventure. I am getting better at figuring out how it all works. I have only cried once but that’s because I found out a friend from home was dying and has now passed away. Rest in peace John Fox. 

So I am going to go take a shower and see what today brings. I found a movie theater, so I might do that just so I can rest my knee. I don’t care if it’s dubbed over in Spanish, it will still be an experience. 

It’s true, the Camino gives you what you need when you need it. I hope I can keep this state of being with me and continue to let things go as they are meant to be and stay in the spirit. Buenas Dias Compadres! 

Buen Camino 

I have been in Spain for a week now and on the Camino for 5 days. My knee is already fucked. I have never had problems before but I am definitely not alone. Everybody seems to be hobbling a bit. 

This is just a quick post because with all the Spanish and maps and sensory overload-  it’s hard to think straight.

I am going to take a day off tomorrow and gather what I have left to write. 

Money, money, money 

One week from today I will be on an airplane headed for Spain.

I drove up to the dog kennel yesterday just so I could visualize where he is going and make sure it is a place I am comfortable with and I am, for the most part, it is still the thing that is causing me the most angst. The staff seemed friendly and none of the dogs that were there seemed distressed. I hope he behaves himself and they treat him well. That’s about all I can do, right?  My old guy, it has really surprised me how much I am attached to him and the feelings are getting stronger the closer I get to the departure date. It’s rough.

Another thing that has been a bit of a stick in my spokes is my old boss. I worked at this diner for most of my twenties. Lots of my life long friends have come from meeting them at this restaurant. It is a meeting place for the counter culture in the Salt Lake valley. 

I got a call from them on Saturday after I had been into visit earlier in the week. They wanted me to buy into their business and then when they retire they will give it to me. She knows I have money from the sale of my house. I didn’t mean to tell her but she kept asking questions and pretty much figured out that it was quite a lot, enough to make a deal. 

I don’t want to make a deal. I love them. I care about them, I want them to do well but I just can’t go into business with them. I didn’t say no on the official phone call, I said I would think about it. Bad mistake. I was flattered and for about 20 minutes I was considering it. It’s just the two of them and a few waitresses that run the place. It has legacy and loyal regulars. In fact,  when I stopped in the other night, I was really feeling how it felt like home and how I had missed it and was glad to be sitting there, taking it in and relaxing.  

I hadn’t eaten there in years because once I got food poisoning so bad that I missed my flight back to Tennessee but whenever I came to town in the 14 years that I was gone, I would pop in and say hi. 

Sunday they started calling and texting. I responded with a sorry, I can’t do it. It didn’t end there. Then they just wanted to borrow money until the end of the month. Pay me lots of interest. Better than a bank. 

So awkward. Makes my stomach hurt. 

And you might be asking what does this have to do with sobriety? I don’t know, all of it. The husband is a prolific gambler. And with the desperation they were trying to contact me with made think that he was in trouble. Gawd, if he gets his fingers chopped off….. I mean, it’s not my responsibility, right? This addiction of his has been going on for thirty plus years. I hope they can figure it out but it sure has made a knot in my stomach. If it were money won from the lottery, I wouldn’t hesitate but it’s not. It’s my nest egg. It’s the money that’s going to get me through to the next phase. I didn’t inherit it. I made choices that turned out to be good and I need it to last until I figure out what I am doing. 

It touches on every dysfunctional fiber that says to me in a surly voice, “I have been given too much already. That I don’t really deserve to have this money. That I should help them. That I should go without… That if I don’t share or give it all away then I am stingy.” 

This is what kept me in the eating disorder and all the booze for so long. I was raised with material abundance and people saw it and knew it. I was always ashamed of it. It definitely didn’t make my life better, it was still crazy hard. My fucked up family and my dad did a lot of damage. It wasn’t worth the designer clothes and expensive cars. Fuck that shit. I just wanted to be seen for me. That’s why I joined the peace corps. It’s why I worked with the homeless and the mentally ill, it’s why people still owe me money that I will never see, it’s why I still drive the same car I have had for 25 years. It’s just all so dumb. 

The psychic I saw the night before I left Nashville told me first thing that I was born lucky and won’t ever have to worry about money or begging but that I have to stop apologizing for it. It’s just the way it is for this lifetime. Ha! Not that I put a lot of stock into psychics but that was interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t have much money. This is all just so awkward to even talk about but if I don’t then it will fester. 

I am trying to be well. Sick of being sick in my brain hole. Trying to make good choices. Trying to be a better person and careful with my sore spots. 

Have a lovely sober week!