23 July 2011

The End of the Earth

Cereal isn’t that popular in Spain. However, as a devoted-life-long-cereal-lover-and-eater, I believe I handled the situation quite well. I ate grains in the form of toast instead, and only sometimes complained about wanting Blueberry Morning. I’ve been awake maybe an hour today and have already eaten (with great enthusiasm) two large bowls of Kashi Heart-to-Heart, a cereal I enjoy partly because it tastes okay, but mostly because it bares a striking resemblance to dog food. Lightly-sweetened dog food. Ignoring the fact that one is in a human cereal bowl, I'd like you to guess which is which. Impossible, right?

Also, being back in Michigan has made me remember how much I hate Michigan accents. I deeply regret that I have one. Coincidentally, “Spain” spelled backwards is “Niaps,” which is exactly how someone from Michigan pronounces the word “naps.” 

Perhaps it’s because I have been cursed with that horrid, nasally vowel pronunciation simply by growing up in the region I did, but I will never, ever, speak Spanish like a native speaker. I reached this conclusion as I sat in a café with fairies painted on the ceiling (in a cool way, not in a freaky Lisa Frank glitter-covered trapper-keeper from 1996 way) on the 4th of July, sipping a café Americano (unintentional patriotism), listening to other Americans (it was an accident, I swear, I'm really not patriotic, it's not how it looks) try to speak Spanish and feeling embarrassed by and for them. I sunk into my chair, overcome with shame that I, too, sound like that. Feel free to substitute “that” with “a complete idiot” or “a huge asshole.” As I settled into a foul mood, I gazed out the window, contemplative. A lady walked by outside, talking on her phone and absentmindedly slapping her armpit at the same time.

Anyway. What I’d like to reminisce on today is that time Maura and I walked to the End of the Earth, in Galicia, Spain. Really, we did. Fisterra/Finisterre (one is the Spanish name, one is the Gallego name)-- either way, the “End of the Earth.” In retrospect, the proposal sounds ridiculous: “Hey Meow-Meow, let’s take the weekend to walk 60 miles across Northern Spain, in too-small running shoes, without a map or directions, with a couple loaves of bread in our backpacks!” But it sounded like a brilliant plan to us, so we went through with it. Due to limited time, we could only pursue a small section of the much larger, sacred pilgrimage that extends all throughout Europe, called El Camino de Santiago—or, in the English translation that makes no sense, “The Way of St. James.” St. James? Santiago? WHAT AM I MISSING?

The night before we embarked on our miniscule segment of the journey, we decided to make a Tortilla Española, which is basically a potato omelette, in the hostel’s kitchen in Santiago de Compostela. We ended up royally fucking it up by accidentally adding about a half a cup of salt, but since we had used six eggs (our first mistake), we felt too guilty to not eat it. We couldn’t waste six eggs.  So we coached one another through the meal-- You can do it. One more bite. Thatta girl. Come on. Six eggs. We have a long walk ahead of us. Go. Go. Go. Beautiful. Great! Chew. Good. Now swallow! Perfect!*-- and eventually wound (and whined) our way through the majority of the disgusting, salty potato-egg-mass, and only suffered dull-to-moderate stomachaches. I may have developed a small ulcer from this experience that will come back to pain me in months to come, but I’m not worried about that right now. In short, we started off the journey well-nourished-- our bodies will never need sodium, ever again.
(*I don't think the coaching really happened like that. It went more like, "Oh my gawwwwd, this is so saallllty. Ughhhhh. I can't do this." "Ughhhh, Gaby, we have to...oh god, so gross. This is foul. I'm gonna barf." "Maurraaaaaa, this is REPULLLLSIVVVEEE." "Fuckkkk.")

French Trail-Pisser himself ^
The walk itself was stunning—through open fields, through the mountains and forests and along the sea! We felt incredibly in-shape, until we realized that we were the youngest people on the trail by at least forty years. Walking 90-ish kilometers in less than three days sounds like a daunting task, but what I failed to mention earlier is that we did so in the company of only elderly walkers, most of whom had started in France and had been walking for weeks, and most of whom were way faster than us. (Whatever, it’s not a race, it’s about the journey, right? RIGHT?) As we huffed and puffed and swore and sweat on the second day, our favorite old French man /roommate from the night before casually strolled by us, stopped to pee in the trail, and continued on until we lost sight of him for a few hours. When we had finally arrived to the next town, there he was, casually  drinking a beer and reading the paper outside a bar, like he hadn’t just walked the length of a marathon, but instead had taken a leisurely stroll from his living room to the bathroom, taken a shit, and walked back to his chair in front of the fireplace. He's an inspiration to us all, really.

The end of the earth, as it turns out, is very, very blue. We stopped for an overpriced glass of wine at the fancy restaurant at The End to celebrate our fine athletic achievement, and one of the assholes working there sharply reprimanded us for taking off our shoes in the restaurant. How dare they. BITCH, WE JUST WALKED TO THE END OF THE EARTH! WE JUST WALKED 60 MILES! LET US TAKE OFF OUR SHOES AND TAKE A NIAP! (note the unavoidable michigan accent)
We didn't say that. We mumbled, "vale, vale," and put our toes in our shoes to make it look like we made an effort, then plunked our heads on the table and moaned in pain. 
End of earth hip movement


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