Madrid is very wet, windy and cold. Umbrellas were flying 50ft in the skies above Madrid today. Despite that, I managed to turn €2 into €142. Yay! Thank the fucking fuck for that.
The last couple of weeks have been tough. Really tough. For Three days in a row I was drenched to the bone. Sleeping cold and waking with aching bones and joints. Not nice. Haven't enjoyed it.
I hit a low at Cuenca. A nice place, but very, very wet.
After talking to the toilet attendent in the central park I headed towards an albergue. Not one of those pilgrims' albergues, but a homeless night shelter. I like this system. Anyone in need in any city in Spain can find a safe bed, shower and meal for One night only. If you don't find work after a day, you move on. It seems fair to me.
Desperate for a hot shower (I would have given anything) I followed instructions to the albergue. Thankfully, they let me in. This is only the Third time I have used such facilities in almost 16 months of walking. First time was a legite pilgrims stay. Second time was by 'accident' after being refused entry to the official pilgrim albergue. They are all very different in my limited experience. This one was sterile. You are told what to do and when to do it by people in white coats. But, WTF - free meal, warm bed (in your own room), hot shower and breakfast for free. They're not supposed to be welcoming places. A very fine line between welcoming and caring. When you're that desperate any warmth is a welcome, but you have to appreciate it is for One night only.
So, fully refreshed (and with brand new socks and underpants from the albergue :D) I tried to make cash in Cuenca as it pissed down. The only dry pitch I could find was a small arcade with very little through traffic. Not liley to make any more than enough to buy a meal until some very generous person browsed my sketches, read my blurb and then gave me €20 and insisted on not taking a sketch. Fucking cool guy. When you're this down and out the first €10 - €20 is the most difficult. From there on you can invest in materials. With that very generous €20 I took a bus to Madrid and now I have almost €150 in my pocket and a plan to make €1K by Tuesday!!!
I'm off to Leon for a day because I love Leon and want to say 'hi' to a couple of good people. Then I'm straight on to Santiago to make a painting of the cathedral to sell in exchange for a months rent of a farmhouse on the Costa de la Muerte. Simple hey? Life can sometimes be that simple - if you don't try - you don't get!
I've given up on this walk. It was costing money. I wasn't enjoying it. Policia Local in Barcelona and Valencia left me feeling like some no-rights fucking crim'. Cunts. There is no fucking law that says I can't sketch in the streets no matter how big. I will only return when I have to. Whatever the reasons for policing the streets like that, it doesn't work. Barcelona and Valencia have some of the highest levels of street crime in the World. Idiots focussing on artists and artesans collecting a small income whilst ignoring the real crime is just a little bit crap to say the very least. Catalunya and Valencia - not my favourite places in Spain.
Onwards and upwards. Hopefully my next project will be up and running within a couple of weeks. I'm keen, eager and have a drive within to see funds raised to provide camino experience with a mentor to anyone from a 'disadvantaged background'. Absolutely hungry to see this work - so, it will.
Off to the bus station for a couple of hours kip before taking a night bus for another couple of hours.