Santiago: Part IV

One of the other most-anticipated parts of our trip was the puppet show we went to on Sunday. It was something like Mystery Science Theater, with Don Quijote and Sancho commenting on the play within a play. It was all in Gallego, but we could understand it enough to enjoy it immensely. Halfway through Don Quijote freaked out because he thought the play was real, and destroyed one of the puppets.

There’s no way to capture it on film, but here’s my very poor attempt to do so:

After the puppet show, we wandered around in the Parque de Santo Domingo de Bonaval–the site of one of the first convents founded by St. Dominic de Guzman, the founder of the Dominican order. The garden is beautiful, with a few walls of buildings that I assume used to be the old monastery.

There was also an old fountain, down some steps… there was writing on the wall that may have been in Latin, but it was too faded (and too Latin?) to read.

We also found a SCARY DARK CAVE… Pan’s Labyrinth?! Too bad there was a fence; we could have explored it, and perhaps never see the light of day again.

I fell off a few ancient walls, of course…

There were some beautiful views of the city: (ferris wheel included…)

We took a little siesta in the grass… all of us are already accustomed to the siesta. It’s one of the things I’ll miss most when I come back to the U.S.

There were also some contemporary sculptures that I think were supposed to imitate the shape of the city skyline visible in the distance. Since imitating works of art was a tradition on this trip, we did some interpretive poses…

We went back to el Parque de Alameda, to spend time with the Two Marias…

and with this character:

I loved the trees in this park. It was very shady and green. Or, as the sketchily-translated website described it, it has a lot of “shandy areas”.

We also found a crazy stone monkey fountain. Most of the fountains have warnings not to drink the water, but this one didn’t. So Katie and I went for it. It tasted a little weird but I haven’t died yet.

There were a lot of ducks all types of birds, that can perhaps be pursued with frying pans… I took a picture in honor of David Zayas and the other participants in the Sandwich Symposium. They would have gone nuts. (It’s okay if you don’t understand, you probably don’t want to know.)

The next park we wandered to was a little sketchy… el Parque de Belvís. We decided that this may be somehow related to Elvis… drugs, sex, and rock and roll? We mostly came to this conclusion because of the SCARY DRUG ALLEY, which appeared at first glance to be a somewhat creepy path…

but actually had more drug paraphernalia on the ground than I’ve ever seen in my life… and I live in Ypsi. It was pretty creepy.

Besides the SCARY DRUG ALLEY, the park was pretty. Lots of open space. There were some old buildings, which are always interesting. This is your house, Papa:

We were confused about this sculpture at a distance, but once we were closer we realized that it’s a representation of PDA in the park. This is Katie and Clare letting us know that no, this isn’t okay, not in the park. (Like I said, drugs, sex, and rock and roll.)

The convent of Belvís itself looked pretty deserted, since the cloistered nuns don’t usually hang out on the street and whatnot. 800 years of Dominican contemplation?! Here in Europe things are just… really, really old.

(Later on, in a bar, we saw a statue of “Belvis“, and I took a picture for the benefit of certain people with a disproportionate hatred for the King…)

By this point the sun was setting and we were tired, so we headed back to the train station to wait for our train. When we arrived, we found out that what we thought were round-trip tickets actually still had to be booked separately. There were no more seats left on the train, and we had to buy tickets for the next day. We didn’t want to pay for a hostel, and it was late, so we decided to just camp out in the train station after wandering around town a little more.

Once we had resigned ourselves to a homeless night, Katie and I gave ourselves a facial in the train station bathroom, using some soap from the Dead Sea. It was very refreshing… not quite refreshing enough to make up for the fact that we’d have to wait to shower until we got back to Ávila, but still.


As it turned out, the train station isn’t open at night. After wandering around town a little, we returned to find it dark and locked.

So we settled down on some benches under the stairs across from the station with what little food we had, a bottle of gin, and all the clothes that we brought with us. It got down to 50 degrees, which is cold regardless of the gin and all the layers of clothing. My compadres were kind enough to cover me up with newspapers (and some museum pamphlets…?) when I fell asleep, but I don’t know what those bums are thinking. Newspapers don’t do crap when it comes to warmth.

At one point a security guard came out of the station, and meandered over to talk to us (the vagabonds under the stairs, with our gin and newspapers and whatnot.) We told him we had a train in the morning, and he was very quick to reassure us: calm down, calm down. Everything is fine. “I was just watching on the cameras…” he said. Whoops.

The people in Galicia are far nicer than anyone in Castilla Leon, or the U.S. Even the security guards.

It was quite a night. I slept a little… as anyone who knows me is aware, I can sleep pretty much anywhere. Eventually even I couldn’t sleep anymore, not because I was on concrete under newspaper, but because it was just so cold. When the train station opened at 6am, we staggered inside and collapsed to sleep in the (relative) warmth. I folded myself somewhat awkwardly into a chair, but Katie just curled up on the floor. Another security guard came over and woke her up, and told her very kindly that she could sleep, but not here. “El suelo es muy mal para la espalda,” he said. (The floor is very bad for the back.) She nodded, and crawled under the chairs to fall asleep again. As it turns out, he wasn’t actually just concerned about her chiropractic health, because he returned with another (very friendly) security guard, and repeated his concern. So we slept sitting up in the train station seats for a few more hours.

Once the sun was out, Katie and I left Clare sleeping and shivering at the train station, and wandered back to the cathedral while waiting for our 1pm train. We bought some more naranjas and some sandwiches for the road, from a crazy scary angry lady. We got back in time to get on our train (finally) and sleep somewhat sporadically on the way back to Ávila.

I was at the point of exhaustion where I was almost too tired to sleep, so most of the trip I stayed awake and watched the scenery and the extremely cheesy action movie that was playing for our entertainment.

I’ve never been more glad to see the familiar streets of Ávila…… or to be able to shower.

Qué adventura.

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3 Responses to Santiago: Part IV

  1. claire says:

    are those ducks? they look like (cleaner) versions of the pigeons here!

    oh, upon closer inspection i see some ducks by the water.

  2. Mama says:

    Those ARE pigeons. Poor home-schooled kid!

  3. saracita says:

    There ARE ducks, and pigeons! Look closer! I just didn’t have pictures of large groups of ducks.

    Geeeeze.

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