The past week has been filled with learnings. So very many.
Our Space X Starlink internet equipment arrived the day before we left for Valencia. Regular readers of this blog know our internet in Galicia has been abysmal and getting worse by the day. Not that we thought we would have gigabit fiber here on the farm. But .8 upload, and 4 or 5 download speeds are like dial-up in the 90’s. Its been painful, to say the least.
Once Jeff pulled the trigger, Space X shipped it from Cincinnati, Ohio. We received it in record time. As the delivery truck pulled up, I skipped outside squealing with delight. The big box arrived late in the day. Jeff was stuck on a call so it was nearly dark when he got it out of the box and stuck it on top of the laundry room roof.
Basically, the folks at SpaceX developed this as a solution for people outside of cities. In rural Africa, if you have electricity you can have high speed internet with this all-in-one miracle in a box. Its turn key. Download the app. Find a satellite on your phone. Plug the dish in and let it orient itself. Twenty minutes later we had internet. 220 down and 85 up. Its a game changing miracle.
Jeff has video again for work meetings. And I can watch a movie, or stream music while he is working. After our electricity and well repairs, I can flush the toilet while he’s in a meeting now, too. Without booting him off the grid. Its like we live, almost, in the 21st century. Adiós Moviestar. Its been fun – not.
Riding the Rails
We took the high speed home from Valencia on Saturday. Less than two hours to Madrid. A station change from Atocha to Chamartin for northern trains. Then a little over 3 hours to Santiago to our waiting car.
I was tired and nauseous, but not because of the train ride. Pro tip: No matter how delicious, don’t fill your backpack to the brim with groceries from you favorite Arabic food store, then schlep them across the length of the country. Next time, I’m bringing an empty suitcase to fill with that heavy stuff. Something with wheels. My back and my knees with thank me. Even though my mouth was watering at the prospect of new flavors. Until it wasn’t.
The new high speed to Ourense is a game changer for travel from Galicia to the rest of Spain. I heard people online saying it was a ridiculous expense and the eleven years they spent on the multitude of tunnels through the mountainous region a waste of time. But none of that is true. Before this new train, going to Madrid was only viable via plane for business meetings. It truly was a milk run. Jeff and I did it over Thanksgiving before the pandemic. Exhausting.
But even with the new speedy train, some things never change. Because, well, people. Just people.
The trip from Valencia to Madrid was packed. But the train from Madrid to Santiago had just a few people in our car. But, of course, we were all sat together at one end. And then the couple across from us committed the cardinal sin of social faux pas.
During my corporate working life there was first an unwritten rule, then an actual rule regarding food in the break room. NO REHEATED FISH in the microwave. Be the perpetrator of fish smell in an American office and you will have a mutiny on your hands. Once, you’ll get a stern talking to. Twice, HR will get involved. Third time, building management will pay you a visit. But our neighbors on the train didn’t get the memo.
Around León, the wife dug into her bag and pulled out two foil wrapped bocadillos. (Sándwiches). From the moment the husband opened his the smell was like we were all on a fishing boat and our catch had turned bad. Even with our masks on it was awful. Jeff was concerned he would lose his lunch as the dynamic duo chowed down. And we still had another hour and a half to Santiago. The smooth ride on the rails felt more like rough seas.
Certainly, this is not train specific behavior. Bad, inconsiderate actions happen everywhere, in every country, on every mode of transport. A kid kicked Jeff all the way from Santiago to Valencia on our Ryanair flight. As his mother did nothing. But that fish smelled so bad I wonder if the pair escaped food poisoning before they arrived in A Coruña. They likely paid for their lack of consideration.
All that aside, if you are doing a Camino this year and need transport via Madrid, you might consider the Galician high speed. There is stunningly beautiful countryside to see. Especially in the autumn. And its cheap. But then so are the flights. When you can travel to your dentist more than 900 km away for only €25 it must be a bargain. And the Galician high speed is as little as €15.
Life is full of lessons and experiences. All of which only help you to appreciate it that much more when something that has been difficult, finally gets just a little bit easier.