We were starting to fear we were under a Camino laundry curse.
The way it generally works while hiking the Camino is that we hike all day for 9 or 10 hours until, drenched in sweat and smelling on beyond rancid, we reach our albergue where the first thing we do is beeline for the showers. after which we change into clean clothes, which we'll sleep in then wear the next day.
Since, in order to keep our packs as light as possible, Tom and I bring only one change
of clothes, a critical part of our evening routine is cleaning the previous day's clothes so that we'll have clean clothes to change into at the end of following day. The standard method used by pilgrims is to wash the clothes out by hand then hang them out on the albergue clothes line to dry; however many albergues have washers and sometimes dryers or often times you can pay the hospitaliero to do your laundry for you.
So we wanted to wash our clothes when we first arrived in St. Jean but we arrived too late to do so. But that was actually OK since our clothes were only travelling-for-24-hours gross, not hiking-over-mountains-for-9-hours gross, so we figured we could wear our dirty clothes for another day and save our clean clothes for when we arrived in Valcarlos, where we figured we'd arrive early enough to then wash our two-day-old dirty clothes.
We did in fact arrive in Valcarlos early enough to use the washer there then hang our clothes out to dry, except that the nice young, harried hospitalero who was running back and forth between the albergue and his job at the town's tourism office sadly told us that he had so much laundry to do that we could use neither the washer nor any of the yards and yards of clothesline out in the yard as he had too much laundry to do himself.
Well, that wasn't actually too bad either, since we did have one clean pair of clothes left to change into and could wash all our clothes when we got to the next town of Espinal, where we were pretty sure there was a washer and dryer in the hotel there..
There was in fact a nice laundry room in our hotel in Espinal, but, as were at the end of the pilgrim line to use the washer and dryer, we decided to shower, put our dirty clothes back on, then when we'd done a load of laundry, change into our clean clothes and do another load of dirties. There was plenty of time.
Just before we went down for dinner I threw our laundry, that is all our clothes except what we were wearing, into the washer. In fact I threw both my pairs of dirty hiking pants in, figuring that I could go around for the rest of the evening in the polka-dotted skirt I wear to bed. Most guy pilgrims wear undies and a tee shirt to bed, including the Scoutmaster. Some of the gals even do, too, but the Scoutmaster's wife prefers to cover up a wee bit more.
After dinner I returned to the laundry room, threw my wash into the dryer, inserted my 2 euros into the machine, pressed the button, and...nada. the dryer had quit working.
"You better go get the lady," said Tom.
But I didn't want to go get the lady. It was smack in the middle of the dinner hour and the lady, our hard-working hospitaliera, was running around trying to get all her hotel guests and pilgrims fed.
Still, Tom was right, I had to go get the lady.
I waylaid her as she was hurrying across the dining room with a cup of coffee in each hand. In the most polite, apologetic, obsequious Spanish I could muster I told her of my problem. I fully expected her to say, "What's with you, you crazy Americana? Can't you see I'm jumping through my elbow trying to get everybody served?"
But no. The hospitaliera's face registered great dismay, she quickly delivered her coffees, then hurried to the laundry room, signaling me to follow.
She fiddled with the dryer for a bit then declared that it no fonctiona.. She left the room then soon returned hauling a large aluminum contraption that folded out into a large drying rack.
"I'm sure your clothes will be dry by morning," she said with much sympathy in her voice.
,I sure hope so thought I as at looked at all our clothes squished together on that rack. Otherwise I'd be walking the Camino tomorrow in my polka-dotted skirt.
Now, in the albergues the pilgrims are all up in each others' business, mostly in a good way, and so soon everyone knew about, and was sympathetic to, the plight of these two old Americans with their wet clothes.
Later that night a few minutes after lights out when we pilgrims were all tucked away in our sleeping bags, a male voice called out in English: "Hey, I think the dryer's running!'
I lay still for a moment and, sure enough I, too, could hear a distant electric rumbling from down the hall.
OMG! Thought I as I sprang our of bed, ran down the hall to the laundry room and found the dryer tumbling away. I quickly grabbed my clothes and threw them into the dryer before it decided to no fonctiona again,
I went back to bed one exceedingly grateful Americana.
The following morning Tom and I had nice clean, dry clothes and at breakfast we pilgrims were all marveling over the aural acuity of the man who'd heard the dryer when none of the rest of us had. He explained to us that he was a retired officer in the Canadian navy, and that on board ship they always had their ears pealed for sudden changes in the sound of the electronic equipment, which could signal that something was wrong.
We all gave an orange juice toast to the Canadian Navy!
By the way, Randy, the tablet is working great. The WIFI here is fantastic, lightening fast. Tom thinks this is because the whole system over here is newer so it works really well. Thanks, Randy, for all your help getting me set up on this machine!
,And a message to my kids:
Dear loved ones,
I haven't sent you any emails because I'm having trouble with my email, not receiving, just sending. But I hope all is well with you all, I'm thinking of you all, and I'll try agsin to send you all an email tomorrow if I can.
Love, Mom 8)
A romantic comedy of errors.
Lots and lots of errors.
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Kindle:
or in print:
The Book Loft
of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library