Today, we safely and accurately made it out of Girona to our next destination spot, Els Angels.
The route is actually one of several recommended to us by Garmin Chipotle pro, Lucas Euser, who as it happens is a friend of my friend Bob Cullinan, of CycleTo fame. Once Bob learned we were going to Girona, he asked Lucas, who trains in Girona, for recommended routes. Lucas e-mailed us about seven different routes, encouraging us to get lost, the best advice we could get.
I say this because at the top of Els Angels, which gives a panoramic view of the valley surrounding Girona all the way out to the Costa Brava, we ran into small group of American cyclists on a guided tour, hosted by a former American pro cyclist who certainly knew his stuff about the area. I checked out his website. For $4000, you have your accomodations paid for, breakfast, an all-knowing bilingual staff, a sag wagon for emergencies, and, worst of all, no possible way to get lost.
As we dropped down from Els Angels, to the midevil town of Madremanya, and then Monells, when we should have headed on to Sant Sadurni de l’Huera, we made a wrong turn to our next midevil town, Cruilles, which took us completely off the map which I had neglected to bring anyway. I only knew it was not a name I recognized from all my previous attempts to memorize the maps, and that we were probably lost, who knows how many miles from home. We hadn’t even seen a single sign to França.
Had the motorcyclist with the open-faced helmet and weathered face not approached us, we probably would have made even more wrong turns, but he stopped to give us directions for the most direct, flat way home, even escorting us by his motorcycle to the next turn off so that we wouldn’t make a wrong turn. The directions were simple: just go to the next rotunda, or round-a-bout, and go left, and then go left again, and then go left again.
We made it home just in time to avoid the huge rainstorm thundering overhead. Chuck stopped to get more groceries, and now we’re eating a home-cooked meal with a bottle of wine.
There is nothing complicated here, nothing magical, It is a conversation I will forget in a matter of days, but for at least two minutes, we had made contact with another human being who wasn’t paid to care about us. He was being a friendly local.
We ended up taking roads home that were never suggested, through towns never mentioned in guidebooks. We made a stop on the way for some potato chips and Cokes at a gas station. As we sat on the curb, munching on our Ruffles, I couldn’t help but notice that a guy around the corner was washing his car just as the first rain drops started to fall.
I don’t even know if that’s such an amazing thought. It’s a normal thought, and I wonder how you say “It sucks to be you,” in Spanish. I’m going to go home to California having experienced at least two different service stations and countless conversations with locals asking for directions, but these experiences are free of charge. Asking for directions is a fundamental human need, and if you go through a guided tour, you are denied this kind of connection, which is basic and so necessary, for both parties. We need this information, to make it home alive. The local needs it, to know he helped somebody. And within a day or two, we’ll all forget about it, but the residual effects of the kindness shared between two strangers will linger on.
I couldn’t imagine paying $4k to have everything translated into English. You might as well save your money and buy the coffee table book.