So, as it turns out, walking 200K from Zamora to Orense was the easy part.
Getting anywhere that doesn’t involve sneakers as an integral part of the trip? Much more difficult. Much.
At this point, I interrupted my Camino journey as planned to go to the “Nowhere” festival in the Zaragoza desert, which is located, pretty much, Nowhere, Spain. It’s a Burning Man-style, four-day long “intentional community,” where the intention seems to be more about partying, wearing similar outfits of fur and sequins and fairy wings, and not showering for a week than about much else. It promised to be fun.
But first, I had to get there. And getting even Nearwhere proved to be a challenge!
After Hopelessly Cute dropped me off at the station 2 hours before my train left (he had to work) and after I got over my 15 minutes of “Wah, wah, wah, I want to move Spain and live happily ever after with Hopelessly Cute, wah wah waaaaahhhh,” I wandered around the neighborhood for a bit, had a coffee, and bought the Spanish equivalent of STAR Magazine. (Hey, reading important, newsworthy stories such as “Who killed Michael Jackson” are great for language learning and reading comprehension! Right? Right?)
So, now fully caffeinated and adequately prepared, I managed to successfully NOT miss my train (HOORAY!), found my seat, and settled in for the long ride across the country. I love train rides, and this was a ten-hour, overnight journey in a cush seat that came complete with earplugs and a toothbrush. I even had a solo seat: an aisle of 1-seaters only! I rejoiced at my luck.
Sadly, my rejoicing was a bit premature. Because plopped down in the 2 seats across the aisle from me was a very drunk, very vulgar, and, as I quickly learned, very deaf Spanish man in his 60’s. Next to him, at the window, was his wife, who would occasionally (very occasionally) hit him and, very, very loudly tell him to be quiet.
Needless to say, the first few hours of listening to this crazed man’s incessant drunken babble was nigh intolerable. I wasn’t the only one shooting the couple dirty looks – which the wife managed to deftly avoid — as other passengers would turn around incredulously. We were all quite pleased when he finally – finally – fell asleep.
Until the snoring began.
Cue up 10 hours of a tortured, sleepless ride.
My seemingly cush seat suddenly became an implement of pain. I walked the aisles from time to time, and cursed that I only had earplugs and not noise-canceling headphones. When I arrived in Zaragosa at the crack of dawn, I was incredibly sleep deprived, bordering on drooling, my mind zany: “cracked out,” as we say in SF.
Luckily, I had to Nowhere out in the Zaragosa Desert from other festival-goers I’d connected with on the internet, so didn’t have to worry about further public transport nightmares for the time being.
But, my ride to the desert wasn’t coming until several hours later.
– Sadly, it was the crack of dawn, and Eduardo wasn’t awake yet.
+ Luckily, the hopeless sleep deprivation and my extremely small stature allowed me to squish into a metal-slatted, low-backed waiting-room seat, head down on my backpack, to sleep!
– Sadly, trying to ignore the cricks and pains building up in my back is only slightly easier than ignoring the “Bing, Bang, Bong! The next departure is…. Zamora… in Fif-Teen… Minutes… Bing, Bang, Bong! The next arrival is… Madrid… in… Fif-Teen…Minutes,” repeated at endless intervals every 30 seconds. For 5 hours.
Although it was probably more like 5 or ten minute intervals, there were literally about 4 people in the train station, and the constant announcements seemed not only a bit pointless but almost like they were intentionally designed to drive us insane!
Yup, I sure know how to travel!