Spain

Day 2165 Sunday 18th September
Riding the National route five fifty was wonderful, good road, scenic towns. I thought more than once it can’t get any better than this today, and it did not..…
Even filling the gas tanks was pleasant, as it was half a dollar cheaper per liter than Portugal.
At Porrinno there was a diversion due to a cycle race being held in the area. With only one sign at the start of the diversion that led me through the higher ground above the town. With no clue I bumbled on and after a few clicks decided to head back down, though it was pleasant to look at the nice red brick dwellings. Only to be sent back into the maze by a cop. Coming back to the highway heading east, my route was to the north. Talking with more helpful police they said the easiest way was get on the eastern  highway and at the first intersection turn back to the north/south highway, easy! As I checked on the map a nice looking brown dog about the size of a Labrador trotted out from a field and toward the four lane road, I hopped he was feral and street savvy.
Taking off eastward I thought it a waste of gas however passing through some evergreen forest it was nice to see the fur trees and their different colors. Turning back west I soon passed the point where I had got on, the cyclists on my left, in their bright clothes contrasting with the green forest, the poor brown dog caught my eye on my right, his golden brown fur contrasting with the grey concrete he lay on, hopefully sleeping on the verge, probably not, dumb dog. I wondered if someone would be out looking for him later, I hope he was feral, leaving no next of kin.
As I said the road was a delight, stopping on the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela to check the route, there was a methane funny kinda smell, as I was sat on drain cover I though that must be it. Surprised my crossing of Santiago was so swift and easy I checked the map again. Once more the egg like smell was in the air, the whole town must stink due to a factory or something. Following the G.P.S. pointer I soon past the airport and found myself on a narrow concrete road with the run way lights along it. Not long after that the airport police arrived and asked what I was doing there, which was a fair question. I replied “I have no idea how I got here or where I’m going”, might as well have added or who I am. It stank there too, though they did not notice it at all, how could they not! They escorted me to the road and wished me well.
Soon I realized I was on the wrong road and stopped outside a motel, could always ask if the map made no sense I thought. Yep I had missed the turn back at the last traffic circle, back track, turn right and that puts us back on the road to the ocean. Pressing the go button did not produce go, just clicks, and that smell again. The gears in my head slowly turned and I realized that’s my new two hundred dollar battery stinking! I took it off the bike on the roadside, it had split and was smoking, wearing gloves I took it out and put it under a dumpster far way from bike and me, it was very warm, if not hot. I hope it’s a battery fault and not the rectifier on the bike.
Asking at the motel for camping as the rooms were beyond my budget the young guy said “sure camp in the parking lot”. I unloaded the bike as much as I could and pushed him under a shady tree. So here I sit writing this under the shade of a Walnut tree with a cold beer. Funny but nice end to a nice mornings riding!
Later just checking the battery, it was still warm and the negative terminal was discolored, like grey, and not gold plated color, maybe mi amigo did not tighten the terminals enough at the airport, though they were not loose when I took them off. Not that I took off the negative one at Toronto airport anyhow, thinking about it later, it was dis colored due to the heat.
Looking on the internet it did not look promising for a replacement in Santiago de Compostela. Tried the battery once more now it had cooled down, it barely lit the clocks up!
Well after trying to make some corn bread without any eggs I gave up and had some wine instead. Trying to sleep at seven pm was not a good idea, I woke at half eight and thought it was morning as the HUGE lit motel sign has turned my night into day! Also the country road I was camped next to has become like a major freeway with much speeding traffic. Reckon it’s gonna be a long night.
Still awake at half eleven, when there was no traffic, the silence is overwhelming, then I hear the faint whoosh as a vehicle approaches, getting louder the almost deafening then swift back into quiet again. I sleep so light it’s hell with so much noise. A guy from the hotel taking out trash sounds like his dumpster is being wheeled through my tent! Why don’t these people sleep!

Day 2166 Monday 19th September
This morning I was on line at six. I e-mailed Tony, my brother in Britain asking if he could get a rectifier and mail it to me. I thought it might take a day or two as he never spent much time on line in the past. It was still very dark outside. I sat shivering in my riding gear while the walkers of the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim trail wondered in for coffee and cake. They all use walking poles and clattered in like a herd of crabs on the rocks. It was really amusing to watch, why do they have to use them until they reach their chair, seriously!
The lady at the serving counter kindly phoned for a taxi for me, he duly arrived and the plan was drive the eighty clicks to get a battery. The driver asked why so far, why not in Santiago? He quoted one hundred to Coruna and thirty five to Santiago. If we did not get lucky in town then carry on to Coruna, sounds good. With his help I got lucky in Santiago, the battery cost one forty seven, my new friend got it down to one twenty seven for me.
On the way back we stopped at el banko, where all of my cards were declined, nothing new there! He dropped me back at the motel and offered to fit the battery for me I thanked him and said I was ok. I gave him a fifty and refused change, he had saved me seventy five all in all, gotta give the love back eh?
After checking out my maps and stickers on the bike panniers he left to carry on his working day.
I put my stuff away, and set to walk the three km to the village to buy food and beer, half way my taxi amigo stopped and gave me a ride. How nice is this guy!
At the local store I got five days food and five hundred out of the ATM, result! And they took my auzzy card in the store! Double result! I don’t like not having cash, often cards are declined even though one has a heap of cash on it. Cash talks, cards can stutter.

Day 2167 Tuesday 20th September
After a good nights sleep I woke at almost five A.M. With no urgency to get up I lay and listened to the traffic and the first cafe workers arriving, no clattering crabs as yet! Then the eight O’clock alarm sounded, a ‘few’ minutes later I woke to sun on the tent, half nine! That was good I thought as I don’t have anything to do today and waking late would make for a shorter day, must have been tired though….
I had found some long forgotten coffee in the top box and decided on a true continental breakfast, i.e. jam given to me from campers at Indian Lines campground Toronto, cheese from Portugal, coffee from Vancouver and long crusty from yesterday. Food and drink from different continents. There was about one hundred and fifty millimeters of bread which did not look like a lot, when I had finished I felt very full.
I looked at the new battery sitting under the sump bash plate, I thought “fit it later, you have all day, nah get it where it belongs, should take twenty minutes out of the day”!
Up at the cafe I looked at emails and messages, surprisingly a message from Tony dated yesterday at nine A.M. the rectifier was ordered and he would mail it Tuesday arvo! Result! Feeling much happier I then set to sorting through my diary of the last few weeks and updating the blog. WordPress felt the need to ‘update’ the style of the whole system, while similar, it was different. Getting my head around it, because I have no choice, I got to the end of the Americas, also adding folders for Portugal to France. Sounds simple enough, and it was, however it took four hours. Good use of an idle day.
Later that day Tony mailed and said that the part should be here Thursday, Friday at the latest.
I’m kinda shocked at my stupidity in not thinking of carrying one, I’m carrying most other things! Many folks said I carry too much, well more than a few times in the past I would have been doing just this, waiting it out. Probably for much longer, in much less perfect conditions. Once again I feel I am fortunate.

Day 2168 Wednesday 21st September
Feeling like I am paying the price today for not carrying enough spare parts! Tried to sleep as long as I could, surprisingly I could block out the noise of the traffic and doze a while longer, by nine it had got light enough to see that it was going to be another nice day, however not as warm or sunny as it has been. I managed to get to eleven by eating jam and maize tortillas for breakie. Then spending the arvo online and making each beer last an hour.

Day 2169 Thursday 22nd September
Once again refusing to get out of the tent till at least nine, I gave up when I thought I was going to flattened into the parking lot stoney hard standing by two tour coaches reversing into my camp ground. It sounded very loud in the tent. So now I’m up I want to go and check the cafe for my parcel, I know it won’t be there yet so I made coffee and waited for the hundred or so passengers to alight from the coaches, none got out, just two very smart drivers, I looked nothing that that when I drove school trips to Spain and Germany in another life!
So, musing that if the passengers are not here then they must be at the cafe, another reason to stay here for a while. Maybe the girls will send the mail man to me, to sign for it?
By the time all the passengers wandered through my camp tripping over guy ropes, beer cans, wine bags and whiskey bottles, asking why I was camped here and “what is that strange smell”? A combination of sulphuric acid fumes and me, mostly me. I could tell them, in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Gaelic. I’m still practicing Greek, Russian and Hebrew.
Asking all of the staff (three) at different times, has the mail been yet? Does he have a fixed time? Not wanting to believe the negative answer. Going to start on the customers next, they will probably say yes just to get rid of me!
By one pm I had emailed everyone that I could think of and took the huge leap and had a body wash in the confines of the tent. I had to, even the flies were keeping their distance.

Day 2170 Friday 23rd September
Woke at two A.M. after five or six hours sleep, could not get back to sleep as local dogs barking constantly, when they did hush for a while I found myself listening out for them to start again! Must have dozed because the watch on the bike sounded its eight A.M. alarm, did not hear the six o’clock one on the phone, turned it off now as it was pointless and irritating. Lying listening to the traffic waiting for the sun to make the tent unbearably hot, it did not happen, I opened the doors to a grey misty day. No parcel as yet, however it is early. I’m going to make the next person that says I carry too much stuff camp for a week in a parking lot next to a busy highway, see then what they think about carrying a four hundred gram rectifier. I could have been out of here on Tuesday morning!
My next camping ground is in one hundred and sixty clicks, and as it does not get dark till gone eight I can head there as late as two or three this afternoon. My intended stop was in three hundred and fifty km.
I thought by two if it’s not here I’m gonna have a beer, half way down my first, a hairy guy walked in and had the rectifier. He was like an angel from a heaven, where they have no razors. The guys in the cafe looked as I held it high and said “Fiesta!!! Regulador Ariva!!!”
They laughed and looked kind of relived that I would be leaving soon, the young guy drew me another beer. I thought of eating out tonight to celebrate, however I had set beans to soak and the smell of deep fried food all afternoon made me feel ill!
Back at rectifier failure camp I packed what I could and ate a heap of beans. As I fitted the new part I wondered what was wrong with the old one. Nothing of course that one could see, so I have to trust that this one will not boil my new battery.
Thought I was gonna be here for a while longer, so cooked too many beans, will do for breakie, in the morning, cold as I have packed the stove.

 

Day 2171 Saturday 24th September
Woke at four thirty, deciding on trying to sleep through the dog dawn chorus with the symphony of trucks contributing, or packing by street lamp. I went for the latter. As it does not get light till eight I thought get moving, and I was by half five. I did not realize that the bike was parked on a slight slope down to my right. Pushing him in last weekend with a light load meant it was higher on the suspension. Now loaded it was lower, I had to lean him over to my right a fair was before I could get the prop stand up. So much so I thought ‘this is really bad and its gonna end in tears, mine’! Thankfully it did not and I headed out once more., feeling pretty elated I can say!
Riding in the dark is not my best idea at all, and when the mist/fog appeared it made me think I should of stayed in the tent!
I was surprised, when approaching river crossings it got noticeably colder and I could smell the water, not stinky, just a ‘river’ smell. My cold hands were numb from the mist, my summer gloves from Guatemala no mach for a northern hemisphere September.
It was dark till gone eight, however, day break as always made things looked better, a nice sun up back lit a group of wind turbines, romantic huh? However with the mist softening their profile and the white strobe lamps they did look good in the gloom, stopped to take pictures, time will tell what they look like.
Getting to the ocean was a big highlight in my day. However unknowingly taking a wrong turn into the mountains and south was even better. Only when I stopped for coffee and pastries did I realize, I thought I was in the coastal mountains! Well it was very worth it, the road and scenery were awesome.
Finding a camp to wash me and my stinky clothing was a priority, so took a camp north of Gijon, where I have high hopes of finding good fish or even maybe crab. The camp ground was open the the waters edge and overlooked the bay to the town.
The walk across the sand to buy groceries was awesome, warm and sunny. The holiday makers enjoying the late season good weather.
Laundry and me hung out to dry it was way past beer o’clock.
It’s so nice to hear the surf and far off babble of people, no traffic, so relived to be from the motel, they were kind to me though. I could have been told no camping and had a room, fifty bucks a night, five nights! Noooo, the whole five day stop cost maybe sixty with food and beer.
Was going to stay here for two nights, though as the wether is not too flash, and just having a week off…. Laundry done I should get to Isla tomorrow, it’s only three hours or so. Only there for nostalgia, I used to take a school group there years back.
Awake again at half eleven by light rain, I put the cover on the bike, and as no way could I sleep, continued to write this. I probably got four hours snooze already. Can hear the pounding surf over the rain, this is why I’m kinda over camping, a tired tent and I don’t like my bike out in the rain.

Day 2172 Sunday 25th September
It got worse, now two am, the rain stopped leaving me with standing water, I lay cross the front, where the door is and tried to sleep, keeping my feet out of the wet. Was not easy, nature gave me the solution, the wind picked up into a storm and slowly flattened the tent, even thought I pegged out the guy ropes it was slowly pushed flat by a steady hectic strong blow. I got my riding gear on and moved my stuff next to the laundry machine, in a corner out of the blow. Going back to tent, it was now on the verge of heading south on its own! I pulled what pegs I could and just bundled it in the bag, when all my gear was safe I cooched in by the wash tub and tried to sleep, three am now. My backside hurt by sitting, so gave up and lay on the concrete, using a roll bag as a pillow. Got an hours sleep when some idiot arrived and said “oh you are using the machine, I’ll come back later”. Laundry at four am on a Sunday, and in my ‘bedroom’ please!

 

Day 2173 Monday 26th September
Well, I left at half nine and rode pretty much all day in rain that was either heavy or misty. Had a few dry place where for half an hour the wind dried me out, only to get wet again.
I took the Potes road into the mountains, against my better judgement, it was almost sunny when I left the highway, as I gained altitude the rain started, it was so bad that I looked for the big ark sat on the mountain waiting for the animals to arrive. It was crazy to carry on so with much regret I turned back to the highway and headed to France.
Surprisingly at the border there was a line of vehicles waiting to cross, police with rifles checking randomly checking passports and luggage trunks. I passed with no hinderance thank fully as it was still raining and to unpack would have been miserable. They possibly thought that to!

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