25 September 2008

". . .I was a duck."

Okay, before I start writing about the last leg of our journey, I need to add something I forgot to mention the other day.

I've already mentioned our dinner at La Fonda Begoña- the savory dishes, the hospitality of our hosts, all of that. But I forgot to tell you that while I was sitting at the table, surrounded by good food and awesome people, and when I least expected it, I heard a sound- a very distinctive sound. It was a sound like the little rocks that you put in a fish bowl, all grinding together, the sort of noise that convinces people to stop smoking. That's right, it was the same voice I'd heard at breakfast earlier in the day, in a totally different part of the country.
My mind raced. I was sure I wasn't mistaken- it was exactly the same voice. What were the odds that the same man could have taken the same route as us totally by coincidence? Pretty low, I decided. That left only one option- he was a serial killer stalking us.
I know how I must have looked, sitting there, my shoulders hunched with tension, neck tingly, my eyes shifting back and forth, trying to formulate a plan for escape.
"Anna," I whispered to the girl next to me," don't look now, but I think we're being followed. By a murderer."
"What are you talking about?" she asked, entirely too loudly. He would hear us, I knew he would, and then he would make us his first victims.
"That man. . . he was at the place where we had breakfast. I heard him!" I tried to express the urgency of the situation to her with my tone.
She looked at me like I was crazy (and maybe she wasn't that far off). "That's our bus driver," she said plainly, before ladeling some more mushrooms onto her plate.
Yeah, I felt a little silly, but really, a young traveller can't be too careful. I mean, he definitely sounded like a serial killer. I was just looking out for everyone's best interests.

So. Where was I? Right- leaving Valdeón; getting back on the open road.
I use the term 'open road' here as a figure of speech, or an expression, because we took the same twisting mountain path out of Valdeon as we had taken to get in, and open is definitely one of the last words I would choose to describe it. It is a very un-open road, and it was actually a little terrifying at times. But our would-be serial killer of a bus driver handled the conditions admirably, and we made it t0 Llanes, a quiet little town in the region of Asturias, in one piece.
I was thrilled to hear that our hotel was actually a converted monastery- and there were showers in every room! It was really, really nice- it said three stars, so now I'm trying to figure out what you have to do to get any more, because the place was great. I mean, there were no clocks in the room, and that kind of bugged me, but that's nitpicking, honestly.
Another thing that I was so excited about- the ocean! I guess some of the students actually got in the water not too long after we got there (and that was a big deal because it was maybe 60 or 70 degrees, and really windy), but I just wanted to lay low for a little while, because we had 4 hours until dinner.
When I did go out to explore the town by myself, I think most of the students had already come back. I didn't know which way the sea was; I thought it would be really cool and authentic if I just followed the sound of the gulls and the smell of salt and fish or whatever. I did pretty much head straight to the beach, but I think that was just coincidence because there were gulls everywhere in Llanes, and the whole place smelled a little funky.
On the way, I passed an old tower, and some old chapels, and then some more old stone walls. I know I reference a lot of obscure places I've already been too, but this place really did remind me of St. Malo in France. St. Malo is also a coastal village with ancient fortress bits still surrounding a lot of it, because pirates used to be a big problem there. I don't know if Llanes has a history with pirates, but they were all ready to go in any case.
So. . . the beach was beautiful! It was in an inlet, with a cliff on one side, and more coast on the other. Even though it looked pretty man-made, I just wanted to stay there and have my hair and makeup messed up by the wind, and have salt in my hair, and get my jacket soaked through with dampness. Eventually I pulled myself away from it, because I saw something else that looked almost equally interesting: a path of stone steps leading up the cliff. Naturally, I followed it.
I had some initial misgivings (a, it smelled like pee, and b, it was a whole lot of steps) but I eventually made it up to the top of the cliff and the Paseo de San Pedro. There's a whole beautiful area up there to walk along and view the ocean. There were towers, and some caves, and huge cliff faces, and waves crashing against them. . . it was so incredible. Really, there aren't many things I love as much as the sea, so I stayed up there for an hour or two, alone, walking as far as I think I was allowed to and just absorbing the splendor of it.
This is the part where I tell you how many pictures I took. Over the three days we were away, I took approximately 400 pictures. I edited them 'in the field' (because being an art major and having taken my sister's senior pictures practically makes me a professional photographer, you know, and we use lingo like that) down to 288, and since I got back, I'm down to around 120. But I mention this because the battery on my camera started to get low, and I'd already used up my first rechargeable battery, and I'd brought my big converter to plug the recharger into the wall, and it didn't fit the recessed outlets. So I was turning my camera on, taking quick pictures, and then turning it off again, which actually might have used up more power than just letting the camera do its own power-save thing.
After taking one last picture using the auto-timer setting in a blocked-off tower (maybe I wasn't supposed to go up there; what are you going to do about it?) I realized that I needed to rush back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. My hair couldn't be helped, but I changed out of my tennis shoes into slightly less practical ones, but besides that, it was the same jeans I'd worn up to the Paseo and the tank tops I'd worn for our marcha that morning, with my hoodie on over. That's how I dress up for a wine tasting/cocktail hour.
I'm actually not sure what they served us. It tasted like straight up apple cider, but I could smell the alcohol in it, so I know it wasn't just juice in a wine glass. At the same time, it wasn't strong enough to be the cider that Llanes is famous for. I didn't worry about it too much, and had a couple of glasses. I got the second glass so I could be able to toast my two friends who were getting married back in Kansas pretty much as we were having our cocktails (shout out to Kendra and Abby!). Along with that, they served little tapas, like tortilla, gazpacho (delicious!), espinaca- the list goes on. They served us enough to basically fill us up.
Afterwards, I went out with a group of people who wanted to try the famous cidra, but I did not appreciate the taste and nibbled on bread instead. I came back relatively early (12:30) so I could get rested up to run in the morning. One of the girls had told me she'd gone jogging up along the Paseo de San Pedro and really liked it, so I wanted to try that.
I got up at 6:30, hoping to have ample time before breakfast, but I keep forgetting that the sun seems to come up later here. I started around 7, running through the town towards the beach, and I just stayed on the boardwalk (it was concrete, not boards, but I'm not sure how else to describe it) where there were plenty of lights, and did agilities and short sprints, all the while taking in the great view of the morning waves.
It started to get gradually lighter, and I made my way up to the Paseo (I did have to take an alternate route because I ran into a couple of people making out). I ran down to the tower at the end and then came back to where the cliff overlooked the beach. I waited, hoping to see the sun rise over the water, but I really needed to get back and shower before breakfast, so I jogged back to the hotel. Along the way, I passed a couple of the guys I'd seen the night before at the cider place, doing some sort of bachelor party thing. You see that sort of thing a lot in Spain (the staying out all night thing, not the bachelor party).
After breakfast, we got to explore the town just a little bit more before getting back on the bus to start the trip home. This time, I found that I was in the back of the bus with mostly boys. I liked this- they were funny. One of them mentioned the bus driver and his creepy voice. "Yeah, I saw him at breakfast this morning," he said, "and he was eating a bowl of gravel." This led to another guy, one from my Contemporary Theatre class, being asked to do an impression of him.
It turns out that this guy is really good at impressions. I mean really good. He did a couple, and took requests. "Can you do Christopher Walken?" one of the boys asked. "Christopher Walken is really hard actually, but I've been working on it: 'Wow. . . I mean, wow. . .'" and it was pretty much spot on. But he wasn't satisfied. "I'm sorry; that sounded a little too Daniel Plainview. . . 'I'm an oil man. . .'" and that was a perfect impression too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ml2Ae2SIXac
Then the conversation went back to Christopher Walken. He told us a story he'd heard from someone who'd been an assistant on the set of one of his movies. [Stop me if you've heard this one.] One day, filming shut down for lunch, and everyone started to go their separate ways. Instead of going out to grab something or heading to one of the trailers to get food, Christopher Walken just walked straight out into a pond on set, and he stayed there, just standing in the pond, for the entire lunch break.
When the break ended, everyone regrouped, and the director asked a few of the people how they'd passed their lunch break. He came to Christopher Walken. "What did you do for lunch?" he asked him, because everyone was trying to figure out what he'd been up to out in that pond. "For lunch," Walken told them, ". . . I was a duck."
Anyway, it was funnier when this kid told it. There were also impressions of George Bush and Sarah Palin done. A good time was had by all.

1 comment:

katsy said...

liz is my little duckling