Don’t ask me what possessed me to do this, but I once decided to spend an entire week driving around the rural areas of Spain and Portugal with three extremely gay men and a single tape playing nothing but “My Favorite Things” jazz-style on repeat.  This, by the way, was in a car so small that it made those roller skates (read:  Smart Cars) look big my comparison.

The aim was to drive north from Salamanca and over toward Galicia, stopping at Santiago de Compostela and visiting the site famed for being one of the main pilgrimage destinations for Catholics around the world.  I mean, people would crawl on hands and knees in the middle ages to complete the journey, all to visit the cathedral, which is purported to be the resting place of Saint James (or at least, part of him) We would then down through Portugal and back over to Toledo and back to Salamanca.  This would have been a good idea, if I had remembered to pack any of the following:

1.  Ear plugs (I still can’t listen to jazz music without having flashbacks to that experience)

2.  Copious amounts of alcohol (again with the flashbacks)

3.  Any other freakin’ audio tape in the world!

4.  The ability to drive a stick shift, since I couldn’t and was therefore relegated to sitting in the back seat and was at the mercy of the admittedly sub-par driving skills of the two guys that *could* drive a manual shift.

5.  Flu medication, as I managed to get really sick and have a temperature that could fry eggs around the third day and was forced to still climb up a Moorish Castle, while simultaneously trying to hold in my breakfast (somewhat successfully).  By the way, Moorish Castles are usually located high up on hills…which you also have to climb just to get to the castle…just sayin’.

So, what were the results of that week?

1.  I learned that I love Galicia and that people there are really nice and have the best seafood in the world (I got introduced to really great snails, too).

2.  I learned that it is indeed possible to get so utterly lost in the rural roads of Portugal that you end up actually driving high up a mountain and into someone’s very private driveway and then not be able to turn around the car without conducting a 70-point turn.

3.  The Portuguese have no idea what the term “dry wine” means.  At all.

4.  The sicker you feel, the more the rain will fall in Spain and Portugal.  And the less likely it is that there will be hot water in the shower when you try to warm up.

5.  I hate “My Favorite Things”

6.  I need to learned to drive a manual shift car at some point

7.  The Portuguese can’t drive for shit (more on that later).

8.  Yes, I am counting that experience as having completed the pilgrimage to Santiago.  I even rubbed the shell in the cathedral like everyone else.