Soon after our unexpected stop in Valladolid we found ourselves in far western Spain and the town of Salamanca. We had only a few hours there but that was enough to be fascinated by it?s historic old town. All in a gleaming light brown sandstone, the old town is full of wonderful buildings and monuments. An immense and stunning cathedral rises high over it all and countless carvings and reliefs throughout the back alleys make wandering worthwhile as well.
From Salamanca we moved on to Avila. This elevated town is famous for having one of the world?s best-preserved city walls, which was constructed during the 11th and 12th centuries. Having read that it?s just a small town we thought we?d have no problem finding a place to pitch our tent for the night.
We arrived by train in the late evening and immediately asked about local campsites. The magazine vendor threw his arms into the air, sighed heavily and threw out a bunch of Spanish that meant that the nearest campsite was quite far away.
It was raining, we were tired and hungry so we decided to take a taxi (almost unheard of in all our travels) the 4 km over to the campsite. To our suprise it was closed. The taxi driver looked at us expectantly, where to next?
Our options were limited. Not only did we not use taxis in Europe, we also do not stay in hostels and hotels. All in the name of saving Euros, we?ve camped ever night so far except those we?ve spent at friends?places. As far as we could see, we had only one alternative, as always, to find a city park and set up camp there.
Oh goodness, how do you say park in Espanol? I mumbled to myself.
Parko, parko! Maciej yelled in excitement.
The taxi driver was puzzled. We were getting no where fast.
Jardin! Jardin! Maciej remembered the proper word for ?park?from a map.
Grando, jardin, por favor.
And we were off.
Reluctantly the taxi driver drove us over the the not-so-large grand park of Avila and, feeling bad for us, knocked a few Euros off of our fare.
Camping in city parks and other non-campground locations, of course, is one of my least favorite things to do. It puts me in a state of perpetual fear that at sometime during the night we will awake to the shaking of our tent and shouts of local police. Worse yet, a homeless person might try to sneak into our tent during the night. Nylon and a zipper is the only thing that is between us and the rest of the night owls. I never can sleep when we?re in some public park.
Now at the park we took out our cooking stove, made some dinner and waited for darkness to fall before setting up our tent.
2am. I?m roused from my half-sleep by strange noises. ?Boom, splash, splash, splash right next to my head. I sit up immediately and yell, Maciej the police are here! They?re hosing us down! I knew it! We?re off to jail tonight!
Maciej sits up, laughs and shrugs, Ashe, it?s probably just some homeless guy peeing on our tent. Don?t worry about it! Let?s get some sleep.
Don?t worry about it! Are you crazy?! I screamed. I plugged my nose and waited for homeless dude to finish his business.
But he seemed to be taking a long time. Moreover there was a pattern to his method. It was time to investigate. The zipper went down, and Maciej?s head went out. It turns out that we had set up our tent right beside the nozzle of an underground sprinkler system. Precisely at 2am, the nozzle had risen from the pipe and began its sprinkling.
With a rock firmly on the nozzle and keeping it from turning, the waterjet was no longer getting our tent. We laughed and went back to bed. I still couldn?t sleep, waiting for something else to happen. When we woke up Spaniards were all about the park not even taking a second look at our tent in the middle of their park. I love this country, but I still don?t like sleeping in public parks.