Guerrero, Mexico

The girls taking the public transportation to the swimming pool with their cousins. (February 2015)

Tlaxcala, Mexico

Erika picking out pan dulce at our favorite panaderia. (January 2015)

Bend, Oregon, United States

Our family photo taken in Drake Park with all three of my daughters (October 2014)

San Francisco, California, United States

Enjoying the beautiful view from the top of Twin Peaks (July 2015)

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Exploring the ruins of Palenque during our Great Mexican Road Trip. (May 2014)

Monday, July 26, 2021

How I Studied Abroad with a Family Part I

I surely can't be a pioneer in this experience but until I find someone else, I'd love to share our adventure in the hopes that other parents will be able to take the major leap of faith. Our family packed up our home and moved from Bend, Oregon to Salamanca, Spain in September 2015 where I did a Master in Advanced English Studies program at the Universidad de Salamanca.

CHOOSING THE LOCATION:
I chose Spain as the country where I wanted to study because we're a Mexican-American family and I wanted to put my children in the local public schools so they could improve their Spanish language abilities and so that my husband who is a monolingual Spanish speaker would feel most comfortable as he'd be taking on the role of stay at home dad. I researched the regions of Spain because there are many different dialects spoken and I wanted the cleanest version and that is how I selected Salamanca in the Castilla y Leon region. With a population of 230,000, it also offered all the amenities that I was looking for.

SELECTING THE UNIVERSITY:
There are two universities in town; one public and one private. Depending on the course that you are looking for, the language requirements will dictate what level of fluency will be needed. Universidad de Salamanca (USAL) offered this Master's program completely in English with some classes available in Spanish if you so chose. I definitely recommend having someone on the ground who either speaks the local language or having a basic ability as there are many tasks that needed to be done in Spanish. If you plan to use your degree elsewhere, it's important to select an accredited university that is well known and respected.

APPLYING TO THE UNIVERSITY:
Applying to the University itself was one of the easiest things that I've ever done in my life. It was a simple one page form and attaching copies of all of my transcripts. There was no essay or struggle to be accepted. In my opinion, applicants are accepted as long as they provide all of the required documentation. The hardest part involved getting my US Bachelor's degree recognized by USAL for enrollment. You can look here for a more in-depth look at what was entailed with this process: Applying for Degree Recognition in Spain. I chose to get my degree reviewed and approved by the specific university. There does exist an option to have it reviewed by a national entity and you can use it at any university. This process can take several months though so I opted out of it. The process took approximately 5 weeks from the time I mailed the packet until I received the official acceptance letter. Many students in my cohort were able to be admitted on a provisional basis while they awaited the completion of their degree recognition. Spain is unique in that I had to get all of our documents translated by an approved and certified translator that I selected off a list published by the government. A wee bit annoying when you're bilingual and fully capable of doing it yourself.

APPLYING FOR THE VISAS:
I've dealt with immigration on a very intimate basis as I married a man who emigrated to the United States without a visa many many years ago. I'm familiar with complicated forms, long waits, confusing answers, and expensive fees every time you turn around. Applying to Spain for a student visa was almost too easy. There are many Spanish Consulates and each state falls under a specific Consulate's jurisdiction. We fall under the one located in San Francisco. Each Consulate has their own individual website that outlines the requirements for a specific visa. I searched through the websites of many different consulates so that I'd be best prepared for the appointments. Our Consulate required a background check (FBI or state), a medical certificate which I prepared based on a template I found on a different Consulates page, birth certificate and marriage certificate (certified and with apostille), health coverage that had a zero deductible and covered repatriation of our remains, visa applications, passports, passport photos, and applicable fees. Our complete experience there is outlined here: The Spanish Consulate in San Francisco.

FUNDING OUR TRAVELS:
Money is the biggest question and concern when you leave your stable home. Spain required that we show a monthly income of approximately $1600 or an equal amount in savings for our family of 4. I had to show 532,51€ for myself, 399,38€ for Jose, and 266,26€ for each child. That added up to a total of 1464,41€. I had to research the actual dollar amounts on the Spanish government pages because the Consulates don't like to be so transparent. I printed off the rules in Spanish and took them to the Consulate with me just in case. Since I knew what the rules were, I was not questioned when I gave my income verification. In our case, we showed a monthly income of $1700 in addition to $10,000 in a savings account. If you don't have a monthly income, you'd need to have the full amount to cover the length of your stay. This income can come from a variety of sources as long as you can document it. We plan to formally rent out our home the next time we move overseas as many countries require a higher level of income to qualify for a resident visa.

OUR HOME BASE:
It was pretty easy to research an average rental cost for the area that we were moving to. University towns are used to students coming and going so there are tons of rentals available. We only rented an AirBnB for one week upon arrival as we planned to find a rental in person. We knew that we needed a piso with 3 bedrooms so that we could have a spare room for visitors or the girls could have their own room if they finally reached that point in their relationship. Pisos in the town of Salamanca averaged around 500-600€ while a piso in the neighboring town only 2 miles away averaged 300-400€/mo. Since I would be the only one commuting, I didn't mind taking a bus to class in exchange for saving a couple hundred euros a month. We decided to settle in Santa Marta de Tormes so that's where I rented the first week's lodging. There were For Rent signs everywhere so I had my husband call and he was shut down time after time. We finally gave up and used a real estate office. The first company showed us a piso that was stuck in the 60's and not officially registered as a rental so that was a no-go immediately. The next office showed us a piso overlooking the river and that was it. We signed a one year lease on a 3 bedroom piso for only 350€/mo. We moved in a week later. The town's population was 15,000 so we could walk everywhere we needed and it was the right fit for us.

REGISTERING IN SPAIN:
We arrived in Spain ten days before the elementary school started so that we'd have a chance to find a home, get them registered, open up a bank account, and stock up the empty home. The visas that are issued by the Spanish Consulate are only valid for a short period of time. You have to obtain a lawful lease and register your family with the local town hall. We lucked out and got an amazing landlady who picked us up and took us all over to take care of everything. With all of our documents in hand, we were able to get registered in Spain and receive our long term residence cards in a month. This process is described in more detail here: Empadronamiento and the TIE.

KIDS IN LOCAL SCHOOL:
This was a huge experience for us and it's best to read my snapshot located here: The Cost$ of Public $chool. It ended up being a very bad experience for us and we withdrew both girls from public school in April under the threat of the Guardia Civil being sent to our house because homeschool is not legal in Spain. The teachers did not appear to care about their students at all. It felt more like it was a paycheck and that's it. My high schooler was shocked at the way teachers yelled and bullied kids in the classroom, made fun of and mocked them, and in general did not behave in the professional manner that she had been accustomed to in the United States. It was extreme enough that my elementary child was not allowed sufficient access to the restrooms and no adult took care of her if she had an accident. She was allowed to sit in it until the end of the day, no parent was notified, no clean dry clothes were offered, nothing.

MY UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCE:
This was probably one of the biggest eye openers for me ever. Forget culture shock. Coming from the US, I had the mentality that classes are taken on a set schedule all semester long. You register for your classes, you pick up your stack of expensive books at the college bookstore, and you put your nose to the grind for the next year. This experience was anything but. I had the list of classes that I needed in order to complete the requirements for my Master's and that was it. Everything else followed along the lines of "no pasa nada," almost like "relax, don't worry, everything will work itself out." There were no books. If there was anything to be read, we were emailed a pdf document or given copies. Classes were assigned in segments so I might have two classes for two to four weeks or no classes for six weeks. And it's not class every single day either. There was so much time available and I wasn't having to stay up until midnight trying to cram everything into 24 hours. There were nine different countries represented in my cohort of 25 students and being bilingual was the norm; many of my classmates spoke multiple languages. In a two and half hour class, we'd take a half hour break in the middle and wander across to the cafe for a beer/wine and a tapa before going back to class, professor and students alike. I was able to complete a one year Master's degree in 9 months and defend my thesis via videocall in September. 

To be continued...

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ten Years of Gratitude

7/30/2009: Signing the closing documents
I have been looking forward to this day all summer long. The chance to celebrate and share the joy in my heart for the wonderful things that I have in my life. Ten years ago today was a day that changed my life. I signed the closing paperwork and became a homeowner for the first time in my life. And it wasn't just that it was a home but that it was a Habitat for Humanity home. This was a home that was built on blood, sweat, and tears. There were happy tears but there were also sad tears. This house holds a decade of memories for our family.

Mia 1yo, Erika 6yo
This home has seen my two youngest children grow up. The youngest doesn't remember any other home than this. The coordinates to this home are tattooed across my right foot to help guide me home at the end of my travels. Before this home became my point of stability, I changed addresses at least once a year. My landmark memory was starting and ending the same school, much less living in the same house for that much time. We've painted the interior walls a wide variety of shades from dark pink to lime green and all colors in between. We've even changed the exterior color of our home from blues to purple and teal. This is a house that makes me smile every day that I pull in the driveway.
2009: Making it a home
Contrary to popular belief, Habitat for Humanity didn't give me a home because I was a single mom barely scraping by. I had to prove that I had a steady income that met the guidelines, my debt to income ratio was not out of proportion, and I needed to show a willingness to partner with the non-profit. I put in over 500 hours of sweat equity as I helped others build their home and then my own. We were fortunate to be able to enter the program when Habitat could offer a zero percent interest loan and the Feds were offering a $50,000 Federal Home Loan that was forgivable after five years, not to mention the $8,000 First Time Home Buyer tax credit that sweetened our tax return. Our first investment into our home was putting a wooden fence around the property to protect our little ones from venturing out into the busy street and later to keep their little puppies inside as well. The tiny lilac that we planted out front is almost as tall as the house now. The shrub in the front is tall enough to be decorated with Christmas lights in December.
2017: A fresh coat of paint for our home
This house has given us the freedom to follow our dreams. We've had to leave twice in order to achieve another milestone in our journeys and we've always come home. The first time was 2014 when we picked up and headed to Mexico in the hopes of returning together as a family with a visa for the man in our lives. Next we were off to Spain in 2015 so I could earn my Master's degree and mark another item off the bucket list. Our lives would pale in comparison to the richness and grandeur that they hold now if we hadn't been so fortunate to own a Habitat home. We have not had to worry one day in the last decade that we would not have a roof over our heads. Our mortgage payment was an amount that we knew we could always pay no matter what and that gives you a sense of security like nothing else. It gave us the opportunity to weather the lean winters when José was laid off from the golf course, we survived the year on unemployment when I couldn't work another day in that call center, it gave me the freedom to work part-time so I could spend more time with my daughters, it gave us far more than anyone could ever imagine. As I finish mentoring my third Habitat family, I can only hope that I'll be able to pay back to Habitat a small portion of what we've received and pay forward this amazing gift that we received.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Start of a Fresh, New Year

I must ask your forgiveness with the neglect our poor blog has fallen into since our return. It's amazing how quickly one can get sucked back into the America Rat Race without even trying. It's unbelievable that we've been home for exactly 6 months now and it feels like we were just touring Germany for the holidays, not a year ago. This year is going to one of preparation for us once more as well as renewal.

As I mentioned on our Facebook page, I am going to be doing a surrogacy journey this year which means that I will have many restrictions upon my activities. I'm trying to not freak out about how tiny my circle is shrinking and instead use it as a time of focus and preparation, Similar to when we returned from Mexico and spent the next year planning for our move to Spain, I will spend this year planning for our Mega Roadtrip in 2018. I had originally planned to begin our travels on January 1, 2018 but reality has already pushed that date out a few more weeks. I will likely be giving birth in January and I'll need some recovery time before we hit the road. 

So with that, here's how I imagine our 2017:
January 2017: José and I celebrate 10 years together and success of a happy, healthy relationship. We have reservations for the Great Wolf Lodge in Washington for a little family getaway. You've probably noticed by now that our celebrations always include family.

Spring 2017: José gets to finally buy the Toyota Tacoma that he has been dreaming about for years. We are planning to pay cash for the majority of it using a combination of the trust check from Grandfather and our Federal/State tax refunds. This is the last year that we'll receive a nice fat refund so we might as well enjoy it while we can.

March 2017: Can Krystal sneak in a fast trip to Finland to visit Anika and Michael in their new home?? Only time and finances can tell.

April 2017: Embryo transfer on my mother's 64th birthday and hopefully the start of a long and healthy pregnancy. José submits his application for US Naturalization so we can put his immigration nightmare behind us and begin the process for his mom, sisters, and oldest son. It will be several months before he is scheduled for the exam in Portland. In the meantime, continue working on his English and learning the 100 questions on the civil exam that most Americans couldn't pass.

Summer 2017: We already ordered our free Canada National Parks pass and plan to explore/visit/camp in some of the parks located in British Columbia and Alberta (Jasper, Banff, Pacific Rim, Gwaii Haanas). If you've been, we'd love to hear your tips and experiences! We also plan on doing many upgrades around the house and finishing the outside remodel that we haven't gotten around to in the last few years.

September 2017: The girls are going to be homeschooled this year with Erika entering 9th grade and Mia going into 4th grade. Mia has the option to continue attending her bilingual international school until we head out on our roadtrip but she would prefer to learn at home. I still haven't found the right curriculum for them yet so we might do a combination of unschooling along with a math curriculum like Math-U-See. This timeframe also begins my restrictions to a 100 mile circle around my home. Since every single city falls just outside this perimeter, I won't be going anywhere for anything. Thus a slight touch of panic and one of the biggest differences between my own pregnancies and a surrogacy. It's all good though, I have something in mind to keep me busy.

Fall 2017: I had planned on purchasing a VW Campervan and refitting it as a home on the road for our Mega roadtrip. After doing a lot of research and reading about the trials and tribulations of ownership, I've decided that it's not the right vehicle for what I need. Instead I have decided to purchase a used R-Pod, most likely the 178 model, and make some modifications for it to suit our full time travel needs. I will receive some compensation for the surrogacy so I'd like to put it towards something for our family that we will remember forever. 

December 2017: If all goes well in April, I will be a very large mama this month and celebrating my 44th birthday. If the timing is right, the baby might be arriving before the new year and giving it's parents a tax break! S/he goes home with the IP's right away and I get to experience pumping exclusively for the baby for the first six weeks. Rumor has it that I might be receiving a sum of money from the closure of my grandfather's trust fund and it will be going straight towards our Mega Roadtrip. I also plan to express breastmilk and sell it to the Preemie Milk Bank which pays $1/oz. so that will fund our travels as well. I breastfed the girls for two years each so it's a possibility, just not sure if it's sustainable.

So 2017 is going to be a lot quieter than last year but it will not be any less by any means. My family needs time to remain in place and charge their batteries, especially before Mama drags them on the road for a few months. You can look forward to more frequent posts this year and I have hopes of posting weekly as we establish our routines. So many stories still to share of our past and future travels. I hope this new year brings many wonderful memories for you and your family. Life is precious, stop putting off for tomorrow what can be done today, and remember that tomorrow is never guaranteed for anyone. Take nothing for granted.






Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Camino Day 8: Heading home to Salamanca

Today's Schedule: (3/29/16)

9am Leisurely wake up
9:56am Jose and I walk up to the grocery store
10:40am Breakfast in the albergue
12:01pm Everyone walks up to the mall
3:12pm Head back to the albergue
3:29pm Walk to the bus station
4:14pm Bus departs Salamanca
5:41pm Stop in Vigo to load/unload passengers
7pm Bus stop in Ourense
9:05pm Half hour stop in Zanabria to grab a tapa and drink
11:58pm Arrive at the Salamanca bus station
12:00am Two taxis to get us all home
12:14am the next day, we're home

Distance Covered: 297 mi by bus in 6h 51m, 4.3 mi by taxi in 14m, and 2.1 mi on foot
1h 10m

While being a relaxed day, it was still exhausting. We slept in this morning since we had nowhere to be for several hours. The albergue folks told us that we were welcome to hang out in their community room and store our bags there until this afternoon. There is only one departure each day at 4:10pm and it's an 8 hour ride. José and I left the family chilling in the albergue playing games while we walked up the shopping center to buy breakfast items. There is a large Carrefour supermarket in the mall so I picked up fruit, yogurt, and pastries for everyone to choose from. We spent a couple hours hanging out at the table and playing games. Around noon, we all walked up to the mall to find something to eat for lunch and get enough food, snacks, and drink to last us for the bus ride home.

 Mom took the kids to eat at Burger Kid while José and I went in search of something a little more. We settled on Pans and Company where I found a delicious toasted style sub sandwich with three different cheeses melted inside. I love cheese and Spain has no shortage of cheese here. After the mall, we walked back to the albergue to collect up our backpacks and head off to the bus station. After hiking the Camino, a half mile walk isn't really anything thank goodness.

When we arrived at the bus station, I tried to use the automated machine to buy our tickets and it was giving me a headache. I asked the older lady at the window for assistance and she came out to show us how to use the machine. We finally ended up with six tickets in hand and only a 45 minute wait for the bus. Our seats were towards the back of the bus. The girls sat with José and I with Justin next to Mom. Overall, they behaved super well for having to sit so long in a bus. Mia was started to feel a little queasy from the swaying of the bus but we made it home without any major accidents.


We had a stop about half way through the journey were everyone had to get off the bus. The bus driver stopped at a café so everyone crowded inside to order a drink and use the bathroom while we waited. There were more people than chairs so people stood around sipping their drinks and lining up for the bathroom. Quite a few people moved outside to get their smoke on and the time went quickly.
 It was close to midnight when we finally reached Salamanca. Thankfully the taxis were lined up along the street outside so we divided into two groups and headed straight home to bed. Mission Complete.


16,10€ Carrefour
15,60€ Pans y pollo lunch KJ
17,44€ Lunch at Burger King JEJM
1,00€ Carrefour (Bollo chorizo)
13,87€ Carrefour
106,80€ Alsa Buslines 17,80 x 6
13,70€ Restaurant Perales (drinks on the way home)
20€ Taxi back to the piso
Total Daily Expenses: 204,51€




Monday, March 28, 2016

Camino Day 7: Arriving in Santiago de Compostela

Today's Schedule (3/28/16)

7am Wakeup call
7:30 Breakfast in the albergue
8:17am Back on the trail
8:37am Santiago de Compostela
9:32am We reach the Cathedral
10:01am Picking up our credentials
10:19am Exploring Santiago
10:37am José explores the Cathedral
11:27am Formal breakfast at Milonga's
3:45pm Lunch at the albergue
6pm Back to explore Santiago more
8:12pm Dinner in the mall
9:30pm Bedtime

Distance covered: 5.31km/3.3mi

Staying the night in a municipal albergue means a new set of rules. Everyone has to be out of here by 8:30am and no one is cleaning up after you. We stripped the paper sheets and pillowcases off the bunks and put them in the canister up front. I made breakfast in the kitchen, toast and chocolate milk. We cleaned up after ourselves and were back out on the trail fairly early. There was light enough to see and the skies were overcast but no rain. It didn't take us very long to reach the outskirts of Santiago de Compostela. We stopped for the token pictures in front of the sign and then pushed on. It took us another hour to cross town and reach the Cathedral where the Apostle James is said to be entombed.
Once we reached the main square, we took the obligatory "holding your backpack proudly above your head" photo. Then we walked around trying to find the pilgrim's office where you show your credential and pick up your certificate. We finally found it but there was very little signage indicating where it was. There was a guard at the front gate and he searched our backpacks before we could enter. Thankfully we were early enough so there were only a couple waiting ahead of us. When you register, the clerk asked you what was your motivation for walking the Camino. The options were religious, spiritual, or athletic. Everyone else chose spiritual except for me and I picked athletic. I felt nothing during this journey that I could relate to a higher power. It was about setting a goal and achieving it. José and I will return to walk it in its entirety sometime in the future, this I know.
After we completed the Camino, it was time to figure out our next move. We wandered around the streets for a little while. José went into the Cathedral while we did some souvenir shopping. You aren't allowed to enter with your packs so I had to carry his and mine. Then Mia decided to join him so I have my hands full with three of them! We walked the streets in search of food and finally found a restaurant that offered an "American" breakfast so in we went. On our way there, we ducked into a bookstore and Mia found a rubber ducky in a pilgrim outfit and Erika got a book that explained the Camino for kids. The American breakfast consisted of orange juice, coffee, bacon, toast, and two eggs. After breakfast, we went in search of an albergue. We made several phone calls and finally found one about 30 minutes from the center. It was called Acuario and it was decorated in a unique manner, lots of Zen and Buddhist designs. There were two bunk beds in each room if you could call it that. There were plywood walls dividing each area and curtains across the doorways. She gave us a deal since we fit into four beds so we took us. I think we were the only guests there.
We had entertained the idea of taking the bus out to Fisterra or Muxia but the bus schedules and wanting to return to Salamanca tomorrow did not fall into place. If we went, we'd end up getting there in the evening and having to take an 8am bus back into Santiago tomorrow morning.
There is a mall a couple blocks up the hill from us so José and I walked up there to do a little recon and pick up some groceries from the Carrefour. There is a food court so we checked out the options. We dropped our backpacks at the albergue and took the bus into town so we could do more exploring and souvenir shopping. I picked out a t-shirt with a VW Bus and the Camino on it, José got a Camino hoodie, Mia a Peppa Pilgrim tee, and Erika a Camino tee. We bought some random souvenirs like magnets, postcards, and José found a statue of some saint that he wants to take home for his abuela Marciana.
We took the whole family back up the mall in the evening to get dinner. Everyone else opted to eat at a Chinese buffet so we got them settled in and then José and I went next door to the Brazilian restaurant. They offered an all you can eat meal that sounded amazing and it was! After we got our drinks and sides, the server keeps bringing out the meat on a skewer and slicing off pieces for you. Then a few minutes later he returns with another meat selection. I think there were like eight different types and then he started the rotation over again. I started to get full but José was like bring it on and I started putting my meat on his plate. After this continued for some time, the server came out and gently advised us that the drink coaster could be flipped over to the red Stop on the back when we were finished. Ha ha ha, poor guy, he never saw us coming! Two hungry Americans after the Camino. When I asked, he said that they were too far away from the center so they never got any pilgrims up this way to take advantage of the buffet. After dinner, we waddled home and went to bed, fat and happy.

Daily Expenses:
27,30€ Brunch at Milonga's
12,70€ Carrefour
3.15€ pressed coins
9.50€ Erika t-shirt
4,65€ bus tickets (1,00 adult ,55 kid) x 2
46€ albergue Acuario
48,70€ Wok Dunhuan (dinner JEJM)
34,80€ Brasayleña (dinner JK)
20,40€ clothes
3,00€ souvenir (Fonseca)
19,98€ Claire's (ME personal)
16,50€ Camino Rubber Duckie/Camino storybook
3,75€ Souvenir
Total Daily Expenses:255,08€ 


Camino Day 6: Pedrouzo to Monte del Gozo

Today's Schedule: (3/27/16)

8am Morning Wakeup
8:57am Easter morning breakfast
9:39am Back on the trail
1:15pm Lunch break
2:09pm We reached Monte de Gozo
2:59pm Team JEJ reaches the albergue
3:32pm José takes a nap
5:58pm Snack at Cafe Bar A Chisca
7:27pm Spaghetti dinner in the albergue
10pm Lights Out
Distance covered: 16.69km/10.37mi
Mia's Pedometer: 60,819 for the last two days

Since we have less distance to cover today, we slept in until 8am. We packed up and walked back to the restaurant we ate at last night. They don't offer breakfast meals so it was toast again. José and I ordered a rosca for Easter. It is flavored with anise here which came as a surprise to me. It's not my favorite flavor at all. We ate half of it and put the rest in our packs for later. Our goal today was only 14km so a leisurely stroll. The markers aren't the new ones we're used to. They are older and placed with less frequency along the trail.

Our weather was the special kind so when it started to pour and I spied a restaurant, I called an early lunch stop. We had a little mishap and Mia didn't get her meal with our order. Good thing we had ordered popsicles so we ate them first. I got a bacon cheese sandwich while they ordered hamburgers. Mia got hers with a fried egg on top.
It was the perfect break because it was pouring rain outside and the wind was howling. It lightened up as we headed out. The plan was to reach Monte de Gozo and stay in a pension there. The only other albergue was a xunta. We came upon a huge statue dedicated to pilgrims. The wind was blowing hard and it was hilarious trying to take pictures without getting blown over. Two cyclists asked me to take their picture and I can only hope it wasn't too blurry. There was a sign to the left for the albergue and to the right for the pension so we went right. We went down this long hill and I needed to go pee so bad. As soon as we reached the bottom, the sign directed us to the left, back up the hill that we had just come down. At the top of the hill was the albergue. The older guy running the xunta didn't have a problem accepting the copies of their passports so yay for us! This is a huge albergue but during the low season, they only have one building running. We had to wait for Team JEJ to show up before we could check in but he showed us to our room to hang out until then. José was in a pissy mood because he wanted to push on and reach Santiago tonight and we outvoted him.
 There are four bunkbeds in our room and a heavy sliding door to close it off from the busy hallway. There are 30 different buildings and tons of rooms. There is a full kitchen so José and I walked to the café/store to get groceries. We got supplies to make spaghetti for dinner but we sat down at the café to have a bite first. When we got back to the albergue, I started to make the spaghetti in the kitchen. There were a couple other pilgrims using the kitchen so I had to work around them while trying to find all of the right utensils and pans. It was a pretty relaxed evening over all. Tomorrow we meander into Santiago and finish up this adventure.

20,80€ Breakfast at Che 4
16,50€ 2 7-Up, Hamburger, bocadillo, 2 Popsicles, special burger
12,10€ Lunch at Cafe Bar A Chisca
14,25€ Grocery supplies for dinner at Cafe Bar A Chisca
2€ for 2 trinkets
36€ Municipal Albergue (6€ each)
Total Daily Expenses: 101,65€


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Camino Day 5: Bebedeiro to Pedrouzo

Today's schedule: (3/26/16)
8am Alarm
8:51am downstairs for breakfast
9:45am Back on the trail
10:10am Horsemen pass by
10:46am Imagine discussion begins
12:03pm at Restaurante A Esquipa
12:28pm Back out into the rain
2pm Windy Eucalyptus groves
3:11pm Searching for an albergue in Pedrouzo
3:28pm Checking into our room
4pm Team JEJ catches up with us
6:15pm Walking the streets in flip flops
6:24pm Picking up dinner for JEJM
7:06pm Dinner for José and I
8:14pm Stop at Día market
10:22pm Lights out

Distance covered:17.37km/10.79mi

Another fun Spanish breakfast of hot drinks and toast with marmalade. It was roughly a loaf of white bread and a toaster. The backtrack to the trail this morning went faster than last night. The first hours of the day weren't too wet. A bunch of assholes went past us on horseback, one of them was running his horse so hard that it was foaming at the mouth. Someone had written the lyrics to the John Lennon song Imagine on the trash cans that are beside the trail. That prompted me to look up his story on my phone and discuss him with Mia.
We were making good time when we happened upon a restaurant for lunch. Mia tied up her horse "Marshmallow"and we went inside. It was quite busy but we squished into a table in the corner. More hamburgers for us. The café was getting crowded and then JEJ showed up right before the rain started to pour down. They managed to squish in the corner with us, more hamburgers and a tortilla for Mom.

Then it was back out into the rain and mud. The wind was blowing really hard through the eucalyptus grove. Most of the day was spent walking in the pouring rain blowing sideways in the wind. The shoes were soaking wet with cold toes sloshing around and gloves so wet I had to wring them out. When we reached Pedrouzo, we had a devil of a time in our search for an albergue. The albergues didn't have any private rooms so we kept looking. We had to walk around and go to many albergues trying to find a room for 6. Finally we returned to one that had a triple room for 65€. It was actually in a separate residential building. There were two other rooms sharing one bathroom so that was interesting later on. While we were waiting for JEJ, we went to explore and left Mia in the room. We went to find food for the evening meal. The office offers laundry service so we had to bag up everything and drop it off ASAP. We were returning from staking out a restaurant when JEJ arrived in town. They settled into the room and stayed put for the rest of the night. José and I dropped off two bags of clothes to be washed, 8€ each. We picked up some things up at the Día market. We saw the Canadians walk by, José told them where to head for food. We got snacks for the family and waited for everyone to get hungry. Mia found a channel playing Ella Enchanted  in English. José and I wandered around town in our flip flops and spare clothes.
The restaurant we found was also a bakery full of delicious looking pastries.We ordered meals to go for everyone else and took their dinner back to the room along with a variety of the pastries. José and I then returned to sit down and enjoy our meal at the restaurant. The Canadians were dining on the opposite side from us so I don't think they noticed us. We picked up our clean laundry after diner and headed back to the room. The other two rooms were now full with loud, smoking Spaniards. Justin walked into the shared bathroom and found a naked man sitting on the toilet. We all took showers except for Mom and Justin who haven't bathed so far this journey.

Expenses:
2,20€ x 6 (13€) Breakfast
28,80€ Lunch at Restaurante A Esquipa
1,30 Día cerveza for José
3,26€ Día
18,01€ Día
23,80€ Che 4 dinner for José and I
12,50€ Che 4 Team JEJM dinner
6,40€ Che 4 Pastries for them
65,00€ Pension Pedrouzo
300€ ATM Cash Withdrawal
Total Daily Expenses: 172,16€

 

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