Monday, October 03, 2005

Pamplona to Salamanca

Today is the last long drive planned for two months: 450km to Salamanca, via Burgos and Valladolid (Vayadolith). At the end of this weekend, I will have covered over 12000km and slept in 38 homes, hotels and B&Bs.

Set off at about 10.45am through grey drizzle mitigated by eye-catching terrain. On a cloud-draped mountain ahead I could see the familiar bladed masts of a windfarm looking like a procession of ecstatic prophets stepping down from the heavens.
The roads were excellent but not busy and I stopped once for petrol and then again for a stretch break, making Salamanca at about 2.50pm. It didn’t take too long to find the apartment of my hosts Maria & Gonzales (with nephew Jorge). It’s just outside the old city, and the street parking is free (whew!). When I entered, the smallish apartment was alive with visitors, including one student at my language school. Thankfully, I didn’t have to keep making excuses about my language skills – nada! – as they knew that work would begin tomorrow.

Bondi was a big hit immediately (the clincher on this hosting in fact) but the resident dog, a largish Chihuahua-looking dog is stuck between terror and outrage at Bondi’s presence.

I have a twin-bed room, so Bondi gets one of those, with a wardrobe commodious enough for my luggage and a little desk that folds from the wall. A window out onto the teeny balcony allows me fresh-air and language lessons from a wall of domestic tutors across the way. The ceiling light is going to be a problem, as it hangs between the beds to a point equivalent to the top of my nose. I’m not going to keep count of how many times we’ll meet.

I’ve been informed that I can have my language sorting-test after 6pm rather than at 8am tomorrow morning. Gonzales offers to take me in. It’s about a 15 minute walk, and he takes care to point out landmarks slowly and carefully, so I actually absorb what he’s saying. At the language school, run by Mester, I am immediately welcomed as the guy with the bear. I think Bondi’s photos have been circulating for months now. I have to fill out a form and attempt a short test. Alas, no Three Cornered Sorting Hat, telling me that I am destined for colourful fortune in Almodovar House. My barely-marked up test form says it all.

Lessons will be 9-12.30 5 days/week with the school open 4-8pm (post-siesta) for cultural activities. I’m given a ring-binder for my future notes, a Diccionario esencial de la lengua española and a gramática española.

Gonzales walks me back via the Plaza Major (of which much more later presumably), and then I took Bondi out for a walk in the nearby Park of the Jesuits, sadly the victim of graffiti on almost every reachable surface. There are plenty of dogs around, including a large friendly husky. Bondi is limping badly, so I want to get him to a vet quickly for a pharmacological top-up. I managed to indicate this to Gonzales earlier, and I think that he has promised to put me in touch with their own vet. Si and smile beatifically.

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