There are just two things holding me back from a soft opening. That’s even before July 1st. One of those things, my Sanremo coffee machine, should be arriving this coming week from Italy. Then Diego and crew can do their magic. The other thing was supposed to be solved by Amazon. Think again.
Tables. That’s the other thing. I could not find picnic tables anywhere. I need picnic tables, as I can’t lay down a legitimate terrace until I get approval by the turismo and the patrimonio. Which will happen in geologic time. So my tables and chairs need to sit on grass and not sink in. Solution: Picnic tables.
I looked everywhere for them but absolutely no one within a three hour drive had them in stock. And no one would order them for me. Ugh. So I turned to Amazon. They had some that are the right size. Order placed, they were supposed to arrive on the 9th. It came and went. Then the email notifications started explaining – delay after delay. Finally, while I was drinking my morning coffee in the village, while lamenting this situation to Jeff, we saw the DHL van pass by. My tables were coming DHL.
‘I think that’s your guy. You should go.’ Jeff offered.
I slammed my cafe con leche back, threw a fiver Jeff’s way, then started running. I couldn’t miss this delivery. I passed Pilgrims heading the opposite direction. ‘Buen Camino!’ They shouted at me, huffing and puffing in my mini sundress (it’s been so hot here until today) and Crocs, as my phone rang. It was the delivery guy. ‘I’m coming!’ I shouted, so loud he likely heard me through the phone and from down the road. He told me, ‘Don’t run.’ And what did he have in the van? My tables.
The DHL guy knows I’ve been waiting for these. Every day he comes to deliver stuff. And every day I say, pleadingly ‘Eso es todo?’ That’s it? And every day he apologizes and shrugs. ‘Mañana?’
Jeff finally caught up to me as I was tearing the plastic off each table. We both got a good look at the quality. It was not good. Sure, it will work in a pinch. Backyard bbq’s in Pomona or Poughkeepsie. But it won’t hold up to the abuse of hundreds of Pilgrims and backpacks a week. And the rough wood requires sanding so Pilgrims won’t get a splinter sitting in a pair of shorts. Not the quality I was expecting.
Jeff knew my disappointment, so he hopped on the LeroyMerlin.es (Spanish version of Lowes Home Improvement) and he checked to see if their stores in Santiago or Lugo had restocked. Nope. Then he checked further afield. A Coruña, Ponferrada, Pontevedra, Vigo. Nada. But three+ hours away, in Oviedo or Gijon on the Asturian north coast of Spain, they had the quality picnic tables I wanted from the beginning. 14 in Ovideo. And 27 in Gijon. Honestly. Now, I don’t want to tell Leroy Merlin how to manage their inventory, but Galicia is entirely sold out, while Asturias is sitting on 41 picnic tables at the start of the summer season. Come on, people. It’s not rocket science! Time to rebalance your inventory.
There was only one thing for it. A run to Asturias with our new trailer. But there was just one problem, we had cleaned out the barn and were waiting for Saturday to take it all to the local transfer station that opened at 10am. No problem. We would head north right after. But I made a big, unforeseen mistake. When the guy at the transfer station asked if I live in Melide, I said ‘No. en Palas.’ This was the wrong answer. Your mother lied when she said honesty is the best policy. We would have to go to the Palas de Rei transfer station. ‘Donde estas?’ I asked him. He gave us directions in Gallego. Yay!
We pulled out and were immediately flagged down by a guy who said he would take us there. We followed him for the 10 kms, where he stopped the car and said they were closed but he would take our stuff for €50. Jeff said ‘Gracias, pero, no Gracias.’ Then Jeff walked up to check out the hours of operation posted on the gate for the Palas de Rei transfer station. This photo is for real.
Yup. Open three days a week. For ONE whole hour. Mind boggling. We drove home in silence, then unloaded our load of junk into a pile in the barn.
‘We’ll figure out how the thread the needle of the one hour opening of the Palas de Rei transfer station next week. I mean, it’s not like we don’t have their hours memorized.’ Said Jeff, sarcastically.
I felt bad. I should have just said Melide. Ugh. But it wasn’t long before we were on the road. The A54 to the A6. Then on to the A8 all the way to Gijon. I had never been to Asturias before. 14 other Spanish autonomous communities, but not Asturias. It’s breathtaking. Green and mountainous. Right down to the bay. The jagged coastline reminded me of No.Cal, Oregon or even British Columbia. It was foggy on the way there. But sunny on the way home. And it really wasn’t that far. Just three hours each way, towing a trailer at reduced speed.
We stopped for gas and had an unexpected encounter. A Vespa club was revving up the engines, getting ready for their Saturday ride. Somehow we attracted their attention.
They wanted to know where we got our trailer. Apparently, it would be the right size for a couple of Vespas. 😉. It was fate.
Then, I spotted one scooter that is the perfect shade of blue. The owner offered to let me sit on her. So cool 😎. When we moved to Spain I knew I wanted a Vespa. But I needed to have my Spanish driving license for one year to legally ride up to 125cc. My one year was up the very moment the pandemic hit. And I had other priorities. But this gas station encounter reminded me of my love for Vespas.
Jeff laughed as I climbed on. ‘Only you could have fun just sitting on a Vespa with a bunch of strangers in a gas station parking lot.’
He’s right, of course. A friend once told me I was the only person he knew who ‘could have fun sitting naked in the middle of a corn field.’ A curious way to put it, but I suppose he is right, too. Now I know what I’m asking Santa for this Christmas. Well, that, and a humble beach shack on the coast of Asturias. Because, after our 7 hour round trip up north, there is no more beautiful coastline, anywhere.
The result of all that is that I have my new, very sturdy, picnic tables sitting in the trailer, ready to be assembled tomorrow, in the rain. Just a step closer to opening. And perhaps, one of these days, Pilgrims walking down our lane will hear a beep beep as I whiz by. Ready to join my scooter club mates for a leisurely weekend ride through the countryside on my vintage Vespa. It’s no cornfield, but I think I’d manage to have a good time, anyway 😃 Because, as I truly believe, good things happen when you don’t give up.