Although Spain is very much like the United States in many ways, I certainly do not forget that I am in a foreign country while I'm here; there is so much that is different. I have been surprised at how very rural the areas I've been walking through have been. Even when there are big cities, there are farms, cows, horses, right up until the city and almost immediately after. There is very little urban sprawl, and in the smaller towns there are absolutely no gas stations, no chain stores. Even in the large cities I rarely saw a McDonald's or Burger King, and never anything like Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. Every small town has its own bar/café, and usually a bakery, pastry shop, and a meat shop.
The people appear to be quite healthy, but of course I'm not seeing the ones sitting on the couch eating Cheetos. I see a lot of older men taking walks, not so much women. There are a lot of bicyclists, again mostly male. However, there is an enormous amount of smoking, and it's rare to be able to sit at an outside café and not have someone smoking right next to you.
The Spanish are very family oriented and in the evening I enjoy watching children with their parents and grandparents in the plazas. The children seem to be willing to appear in public with their families at an older age then we see in the United States. I also see a lot of older people in wheelchairs who are eating out with their families or just being taken for walks, which seems unusual to me.
I'm not sure how faithful they are to it but there are recycling bins in every small town, although certainly not in the hostels. I have seen some windmills, no solar panels. I was interested to see them harvesting algae one day and asked about it, as I thought they were putting it on the fields for fertilizer. It turns out that they put it on the fields to dry and then they package and sell it, largely to the Japanese, for food or food additives.
In general people are very friendly and very helpful, especially to pilgrims. One day I was walking in the morning, caffeine deprived and looking forward to my 1st cup of coffee. I knew that there was a bar in a small town coming up so went looking for it. I was happy to see the table and chairs so set down my knapsack and went in the open door. There I found a somewhat confused woman who said that it was her house, and that the bar in the town was closed. But she then invited me in, made me some cafe con leche, opened a box of cookies, and sat down and chatted with me. She was so amazingly hospitable. I told her she would be in my blog. (Her name is Nieves, which means snows).
Today I got a bonus beach day as the only way to get from where I was to Lugo, where I am meeting my team, was to go up to the coast and then take another bus tomorrow morning. The weather wasn't great but I enjoyed walking by the ocean again. And tomorrow, with any luck at all, I'll be with Janet, Seikah, and Chris, doing the last hundred kilometers into Santiago!Read more