7 March 2022: Bad and Good News; Mastering Pl de España; Mastering a toddler; Trump self-parody?; & Other stuff.

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Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund day stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galiza  

Pretty bad news . . . The Consumer Price Index rose in February to 7.4%, its highest rate in 33 years. And many fear it will continue to rise.

Pretty good news . . . It’s reported that we’ll soon be free of mask-obligations in indoor places, and possibly even on public transport. It’ll be interesting to see what percentage of – frightened – folk abandon them.

Life  in Spain: Taking my grandson to the zoo yesterday morning proved to be a frustrating/irritating experience. At least initially. This was because I was unaware that the Plaza de España metro station has not one but 2 lifts down to the platforms, and these are several hundred metres apart. Following what I thought were signs to the right lift, I ended up at one for a different station and so had to walk back to Plaza de España. Where I took a lift which went down to only some of the metro lines, not including the one I wanted. Having gone back up and vainly tried a lift down to the bloody car park, I asked a local policemen where the right lift was. He asked a colleague, who told me to head up a particular street off the plaza. Where I, eventually, found myself back where I’d been 30 minutes previously. And where I’d failed to see the entrance to the lift to Line 5.

I might mention that, in the middle of this saga, I also had trouble with the ticket machine in the hall at the bottom of the first lift I took. Before I went through the barrier and could find no trace of Line 5 and had to come out again. So, a waste of a ticket as well as my time. But all’s well that ends well and I had a fine time with my grandson in what is an attractive zoo. Shame nearly all the interesting animals were asleep and prostrate. But at least he saw an angry chimp throw a tyre against the window and enjoyed that. He seems to like violence . . . 

One of our many chats:-

Grandad, why are the flamingos standing on only one leg?

I don’t know. Perhaps they just like to do that.

But why don’t they stand on the other leg?

I don’t know, sweetheart.

But why?

Oh, look! There’s a very tame rabbit. 

I recently posted this message in the 4 FB groups I mentioned the other day. It was accepted by 3 of them and, in one of these, I’ve been gratified to see 33 Likes/Loves so far. Which is one in the eye, I feel, for the guy who runs a (Primitivo) group and who rejected my post, averring he knew what his readers would like. Maybe he makes money from pilgrims on that camino and doesn’t want anyone put off it. I’ve had similar problems with zealous camino ‘custodians’ before now:-

In another camino group, 2 people have said that my comments on the difficulty of the Primitivo are excessive, one with more of a smile than the other. So, as I have 4 hours on a train to kill, here is my reply, posted there. It could be of more interest to members of this dedicated group:-

Yes, it’s true. The difficulty is indeed ‘overstated’. But you’d have to have had a humour bypass operation not to realise I’d exaggerated for humorous effect. And it was a very personal account of someone who doesn’t purport to be, say John Brierley. That said, I stand by my practical tips on the basis of the following:-

There are numerous factors at work for a camino which I’ve said is the most beautiful but also the most difficult of the 12-15 I’ve walked on. I cite the factors below I can think of but there might well be more. Each of them can be assessed out of 10 by each prospective walker and the higher your – unweighted – aggregate total is, the easier you’ll find it.

AGE: I was 70 when I did the Primitivo in 2016. Muscle efficiency reduces with age, though I can hold my own on the flat.

PHYSIQUE: Thighs like tree-trunks will serve you better than saplings like mine. I was a ‘9 stone weakling’ as a youth and am still on on the slim size.

FITNESS: I walked the Camino Invierno a couple of years ago with a friend of the same age. A very keen cyclist, he had much less difficulty on the hills than me. But very kindly walked at my pace. Unlike my 2 (ex)friends who left me as soon as the going got tough on the Primitivo, ie within the first half hour of every day.

HEALTH: Mine is pretty good. No medications to complicate matters. But nonetheless . . .

COMFORT WITH SOLITUDE: Apart from my 2 (ex)friends, I saw no one else in 3 days in 2016, other than a young lady who joined us early on Day 1. It was, of course, in April and so this factor will vary during the year. Personally, I go on caminos twice a year to meet people, to chat and to invite them to a free tour of Pontevedra’s old quarter and a room in my house, if they haven’t pre-booked somewhere else. A lonely camino is of no value to me. Some folk clearly love the chance for a bit of rumination on life, or for ‘spiritual’ cleansing. Not my scene.

WEATHER: As I mentioned, it had rained for much of the previous 6 weeks when ‘we’ did it in 2016. March-April is always wet in Galicia (where I live) and Asturias but probably not usually so bad. And water runs down hills. Endlessly.

EXPERIENCE OF TOTING A HEAVY RUCKSACK: Suffice to say I was used to walking with a light backpack, usually sending my heavy stuff with a transport company. No such facility was available in 2016 in April in Asturias. I had practiced walking up steep slopes with a loaded rucksack on my back but clearly not enough

EXPERIENCE OFF HILLS: My much younger (ex)friends admitted to me that the 8km(?) downhill into Salinas had been very hard indeed on their calves. I was not at all sorry to have missed it.

YOUR FEET: Unbeknown to me, one of mine had no ligament between 2 bones of my second toe. I tried all sorts of things to reduce the pain – both on this Primitivo and later on the Invierno – but nothing worked. On the 3rd night of the Primitivo I got little sleep in Campiello and had to stop over for a day to recover. Last year I learnt of the cause and also of the simple remedy of a specially designed insert which, I guess, keeps the bones apart. I suspect most walkers would give this factor a low score. I should have given it an 11.

YOUR HIKING CAPABILITY: Alexander says – quite rightly I believe – that ‘the Primitivo should not be shockingly hard for any keen walker’. Trouble is, I don’t know what ‘keen’ means. Maybe a fell walker of some years experience. But you will have to decide for yourself if you merit this label. Or whether you should follow his wise advice of allocating more time for distances between stops.

Anyway, I wouldn’t really want to stop anyone bent on doing the Primitivo but I do think certain things need to be taken into consideration, on a case-by-case basis.

If you do go, have fun and try to meet up with me in Pontevedra for that FREE tour of the old quarter. I can be contacted through the FB group ‘Thoughts from Galicia’.

The Way of the World/The USA/Quotes of the Day 

Donald Trump, being as helpful as ever: The USA should put the Chinese flag on American fighters and bomb the shit out of Russia. Not content with that bit of lunacy, the Orangeman added: Then we say ‘China did it. We didn’t do it. China did it’. And then they start fighting each other and we sit back and watch. Needless to say, Trump insisted that the Russians would never have invaded had he still been president. Perhaps he was thrice joking. Who can tell?

Finally . . .

Talking of animals . . .

For new reader(s): If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

Only one link today!


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