Sunday, November 16, 2014

Still Walking

Entre Pobeña y Kobaron

I feel the need to explain my silence over the past few days.  It's really easy to sum up: bed bugs.  The first night in San Sebastian I stayed at a Hostelling International hostel that didn't wash the comforters.  A couple days later walking from Deba to Markina I noticed my arms starting to itch, and by that night I was in a state of mild delirium, itching and trying to sleep and trying to not go insane, a state which endures, albeit only in the evenings, to this day.  In the mornings and when I'm walking it's fine, but afterward, when I'm lying down and the adrenalin or the distraction from walking has worn off, the bug bites start to itch, and I start to lose it.
The first day was the worst; the walk from Markina to Gernika was a living hell. The skin on my left arm was tight and jaundiced, with an awkward-looking lump as if I had just fractured it falling off the swings at recess, and the overall feel was as if someone had sprinkled it with habanero chili seeds and fire ants before tightly covering it it in saran wrap.  By the time Gernika came into view I was a shell of a man.  I sat down next to a garbage can and took about a two minute video of myself talking about how I had reached "rock bottom".  Imagine 127 hours but in northern Spain and me perhaps not quite as convincing as James Franco (though the thought of reaching into my bag and using my Swiss Army Knife for some kind of amputation did cross my mind).   I've had bed bugs a few times in hostels in various parts of the world, but I don't remember it ever being like this.


Along with the tough moments there have been some extremely enjoyable ones, which I will hereto enumerate as I lie here in bed not "itching" my arms but rather periodically freaking out and rubbing them vigorously against raised texture of the embroidered duvet covers.

Mark's "Ten Most Important Things That Have Happened in the Last Three Days" (Number one being the "most important")

10) Learned how to say "good night" in Moroccan Arabic from the guys at the reception in my hostel last night (lay-la sah-EEda).

9) Pan-fried a store-bought pizza since there was no oven in said hostel and I would sooner eat it cold than microwave it (It turned out surprisingly well.  I did each slice individually using a pot lid to cover them, creating sort of a mini oven)
8) Made it into Cantabria, a whole new province.

7) Set a new personal best for distance today, covering about 37k, the last five of which were spent walking alongside the highway, cold and drenched and trying to sing "Santeria" by Sublime to stay positive.

6) Walked through the old town of Bilbao.  And then promptly walked out.

5) Traded a Greek yogurt for a tangerine from a Dutch guy who said flying was for "poor people".

4) Successfully communicated in Basque (Opa! Opa!)

3) Did laundry

2) Got bed bug bites


1)  Am still walking.

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