Sensible Practices for Long Distance Walking on The Camino: Toiletries

If you’re a simple soul with few needs, preparing your for toiletries for the long distance walk on The Way of St. James will be no more difficult than finding travel-sized products such as shampoo and deodorant and popping them in a zip top plastic bag. Enough said. If, on the other hand, you’re a creature of comfort, or you are particularly attached to certain personal hygiene products, you’ve got some work to do.

I had some frustrating moments dealing with my toiletries during my trial-run Camino adventure in 2014. First and foremost among the issues is weight and size. Obviously, anything heavy or bulky was automatically rejected. Small, travel-size bottles and containers are a must, but it goes beyond that.

The first restriction to consider is air travel regulations. Traveling via airplane and not checking luggage means you’re limited to containers of a maximum of 100 mililiters (3 ounces). Here’s a tip: a high-quality shampoo such as Tigi Bed Head, Redken, or Bumble & Bumble, goes a lot further than a typical supermarket purchases such as Suave, Alberto VO5, or Clairol. Although, like everyone else, I showered and washed my hair daily, I was able to make my shampoo last for more than thirty days. It meant being conscientious and using the minimum amount of shampoo that would get my hair clean. To be frank, I was surprised that I could make three ounces of shampoo last for so long. Having realized that I can get by perfectly well using far less shampoo than I have in the past, I continue to use the minimum, even now that size and weight are not an issue. It’s better for the environment and it’s better for my wallet.

Same goes for hair conditioner. Some women I met on The Camino opted to do without conditioner rather than carry the weight. That wouldn’t work for me because my hair is thick and gets course if I don’t use conditioner. Besides, by using conditioner daily, I was able to get by with a tiny, plastic comb rather than the heavier, bulkier hairbrushes some women carry.

After the air travel restriction on size, the next thing to consider is weight. A bar of soap typically lasts longer and weighs less than liquid soap so I cut off a third of a bar of soap and put it in a snack size ziplock bag. It too survived the entire Camino and lasted well beyond.

Shampoo, conditioner, and body lotion are liquid products so a ziplock bag won’t do the trick here. I used the REI TSA Friendly Flat Bottle Kit (http://www.rei.com/product/866090/rei-tsa-friendly-flat-bottle-kit). The bottles are collapsible and, when empty, weigh almost nothing. As I used up my products, the bottles collapsed and took up less space in my pack. Standard plastic bottles weigh more than collapsible bottles and take up more space, even when they are almost empty. The flat bottles worked perfectly, never dripping nor leaking.

The REI TSA Friendly Flat Bottle Kit has bottles that collapse as they are emptied.
The REI TSA Friendly Flat Bottle Kit has 3 oz. bottles that collapse as they are emptied.

There’s another advantage to the REI flat bottles: they’re convenient for difficult shower conditions. Most albergues have small, cubicle-style showers, sometimes with hooks, rarely with shelves. This necessitates putting shampoo, conditioner, etc., on the floor while showering. In some cases that’s difficult to do because the stalls are sometimes so small that squatting down or bending over to get to the floor isn’t easy. (I know it comes as news to those of you who are young, but the truth is that long, long before you become old, the abilities you take for granted, like balance, will begin to diminish. Eventually you will find it absolutely necessary to accommodate such changes.) Each REI flat bottle has a hole in the corner. I hooked the bottles on a carabiner clip and hung them on a hook if available. If no hook, I attached the carabiner to a small loop of string and hung it around my neck. Showering was ever so much easier with these bottles. (The bottles can also be used to carry medications and, again, as you consume the pills, capsules or liquid, the bottle diminishes in size.)

When it comes to deodorant, even a travel size container seems larger and heavier than necessary. I bought a gel deodorant and squeezed out enough to fill a tiny travel jar (http://www.storables.com/0-3-oz-pill-container.html). Each day I simply dabbed some deodorant on my finger and spread it on my underarms. I found that, once again, I could do quite nicely with substantially less deodorant than I typically used in the past. The one-third of an ounce jar of deodorant lasted for the entire Camino.

Toothpaste wasn’t a problem for me because I simply didn’t use any. My dentist says that toothpaste really adds no benefit except that the flavoring encourages people to brush a little longer than they might otherwise. I love the feel of clean teeth so no toothpaste needed for me.

I typically wash my hands several times during the average day. Rather than digging through my pack for soap, I carried Sea to Summit Pocket Hand Wash in the hip belt pocket of my pack. (http://www.rei.com/product/785913/sea-to-summit-pocket-hand-wash or the Coleman version http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B003EMAFO2/20140003-20 in the USA or http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sea-Summit-Trek-Travel-Pocket/dp/B00M34EQC4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1439695417&sr=8-3&keywords=sea+to+summit+pocket+hand+wash in the UK.) This tiny, lightweight container has 50 leaves of soap and is very convenient. I even found that I could get my hands completely clean by using only half a sheet and that meant I got one hundred hand washes from a single package. Sea to Summit also makes pocket containers of body wash, conditioning shampoo, and shaving soap. I wouldn’t find these products convenient to use in the shower, though, because you can’t remove just one leaf when your hands are wet. Several leaves will stick to wet fingers and it’s impossible to separate them from your hand before they begin to dissolve.

Soap leaves are convenient because they remain dry until exposed to water.
Soap leaves are convenient because they remain dry and lightweight until exposed to water.

These are my suggestions for toiletries. I shaved an entire pound off the total weight of my pack by following these practices. A pound doesn’t sound like much, but when I’m carrying it on my back, day after day, I notice immediately when my pack weight diminishes by a pound. If you have discovered other products or practices that work particularly well for long-distance walking, I’d love to hear from you.

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Sleeping on The Camino, Part 5

The most overlooked form of lodging on The Camino is the casa rural, also known as turismo rural in Castilla y León and Galicia. There’s a good reason for that: confusion. A literal translation of casa rural would be “rural house” but it would be more meaningful to say “country home” or “farmhouse lodging” or “bed and breakfast” or…

This is where the confusion comes in. A decade or so ago, the Spanish government earmarked money to encourage the creation of countryside accommodations for vacationers and holidaymakers. As is typically the case, the money was doled out to the autonomous regions (La Rioja, Asturias, Castilla-La Mancha, Andalusia, etc.) which then each created their own requirements for further disseminating the money to corporations and/or private individuals who took up the challenge. The end result was a mish-mash of lodging types from single rooms in a private home to entire mansions with heated pool, gourmet kitchen, and groundskeepers.

A casa rural that provides English translation on its sign is a good place for non-Spanish speakers to try lodging that is not an albergue.
A casa rural that provides English translation on its sign is a good place for non-Spanish speakers to try lodging that is not an albergue.

It’s Spain…so even an entire mansion is going to be extremely reasonably priced compared to similar accommodations in other countries, but I’m talking Camino. If you’re swinging along a Camino path and you come across a small sign that says Casa Rural, go ahead and assume that the owner is marketing to pilgrims and not to the CEO of IBM. I phoned several of the casa rurales posted along The Camino Francés (The French Way) and I found rooms available for as little as 15€. Granted, on offer was a bed, in a private room, in a private house, and nothing more, but that’s very inexpensive because I sometimes paid 15€ or more for an albergue bed in a dormitory style room.

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Almost always a casa rural will provide dinner and/or breakfast at a reasonable additional cost. The food is guaranteed to be homemade and, if you’re really lucky, you’ll get to sit down at the table with the family. (If you’re really, really lucky, there will be some vegetables on the side.) What better way to learn about the people of the country you are walking through than to spend time with them in their homes? You want to know about The Camino? It’s history? Places of interest? These people will know.

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You don’t speak Spanish? Well, here’s your opportunity to begin learning. But be assured that most Spaniards under the age of sixty speak at least some English. And they’ve seen every sitcom and television drama you’ve ever seen so you’ll have plenty to talk about. And laugh about. Are you old enough to remember “Falcon Crest” or “Knight Rider” or “Dallas”? (The hairstyles, alone, are bound to be good for some laughs!) Or maybe you’re crazy about “Downton Abbey”? Trust me, the Spaniards are just as crazy about it.

It astonishes me how many, many people will spend an entire month in Spain and go home knowing nothing more than tortilla de patata, vino, and albergue. You have options, Pilgrims! Why settle for racing from one squeaky bunk bed to the next? Step outside your comfort zone from time to time. Get to know Spain and Spaniards and you will have so much more to tell others when you get back home.

Sleeping on The Camino, Part 4

On The Camino you’ll hear a lot of chatter about getting on the road early to make sure you find a bed for the night. In my experience, if you’re a bit flexible and have a bit of money to play with, the options are endless and you’ll never find yourself scrambling for a bed.

In “Sleeping on The Camino, Parts 1-3” I’ve discussed the ins and outs of albergues. Now we’re ready to move on to other types of lodging. It gets confusing if you are at all anxious about where to sleep because precise definitions of lodging types in Spain is difficult. There are hostel, hostal, refugio (refuge), pensión, posada, casa rural and turismo rural (country cottage or farmhouse), hotel, parador, spa, and most likely a few designations I’ve forgotten to mention. For an explanation of lodging types, go to the official Spanish tourism site (http://www.spain.info/en/reportajes/alojamientos_para_todos_los_gustos.html) or this blog (http://www.travelinginspain.com/hotel.htm) for a more personal perspective. For my purposes, suffice it to say that there are many types of accommodation and often enough little distinction between them and plenty of room for overlap.

I don’t have a name for the first type of lodging I want to address because it seems to be a very informal sort of affair. In many towns where earning opportunities are scarce, private citizens have mounted private enterprises to take advantage of the burgeoning number of pilgrims. With a little research, it’s possible to find a double room with a private bath in a quiet apartment, used exclusively for paying guests, for thirty or thirty-five euros. I once was offered a private double room, for me alone, for twenty-five euros because the owner hadn’t managed to rent out even one room that night. Don’t be afraid to negotiate.

This kind of lodging differs from a bed and breakfast in that the owner doesn’t live in the same apartment and breakfast isn’t included. The apartment will have a living room and kitchen that is shared among those guests who are staying the night. Because they tend to be new, the ones I saw were clean, comfortable, and had new furnishings.

In a small town you can ask at a local bar for private accommodation. The bar owner tends to know pretty much everything that goes on in a small town. Well, pretty much everyone knows pretty much everything that goes on in a small town, but bar owners, in particular, can be helpful. In fact, many bar owners themselves can provide a room for the night. Bar owners are also readily accessible and accustomed to dealing with people who don’t speak Spanish.

Behind this unassuming façade there is a rather extensive albergue with different kinds of sleeping arrangements.
Behind this unassuming façade there is a rather extensive albergue with different kinds of sleeping arrangements.

If there isn’t a bar, try a shopkeeper. If there is neither bar nor shop, step out of your comfort zone and ask anyone you come across. Everyone who lives along The Camino is completely accustomed to the passing of strangers all day, every day, and they won’t think you’re too bold or too crazy. The worst that can happen is, failing to understand your words, s/he shrugs and walks away.

Pay attention to small signs posted along The Camino. I saw standard printer size postings for albergues, hostals, pensiones, and even hotels. Shortly before arriving to Villafranca del Bierzo, I saw a posting for a special pilgrim rate at the upscale parador in Villafranca. (More on paradors in a future post.) Along roads there will be more formal signage. If I had any question about where I might be spending the night, I snapped a photo of the signs I came across so I could refer to them later if necessary.

Signs posted along The Camino will alert you to potential lodging.
Signs posted along The Camino will alert you to potential lodging.

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Another means of finding accommodations in advance is to check for a bulletin board in the albergue you’re staying in. Often they post notices or provide business cards for establishments further along The Camino that are run by friends or relatives. If you like the one you’re staying in, chances are you’ll like the ones they’re promoting.

If you’re one of the ever-growing number of pilgrims who carry a smartphone and/or a tablet, internet search can be a good way to find lodging, but keep in mind that many albergues, hostels, and pensions don’t have websites.

Most, but not all, lodging in Spain provides internet access. Don’t rely exclusively on this method, however, because internet access is often sluggish, particularly when many pilgrims are trying to access it at the same time or, worse, when some pilgrims are streaming video on their smartphones or pads (or uploading photos to their blog, mea culpa.)

Sleeping on The Camino, Part 3

The Camino de Santiago has become big, big business in Spain. I’ve been to Spain many times, often for months at a time, and never have I seen as many television news segments and newspaper articles on The Camino as I saw this spring and summer. There were hard news pieces, like the one about Denise Thiem, the American woman who disappeared from The Camino in April this year,* but most of the Camino news segments are human-interest type stories on issues like the soaring numbers of pilgrims and high temperatures on The Camino. There are religious articles, too, like one about seven American seminarians who walked The Camino in their cassocks, or the Spanish priest who brought ten teenage boys from Santa Ana parish in Arizona to walk The Camino so that each “finds what God wants of them.”

Uterga to Ciraugui Priests

Being big business, the infrastructure on The Camino is fully established and rapidly expanding. Every year there are more private albergues than there were the year before, and many of these albergues offer private rooms, often with private bath, in addition to dormitory style accommodation. In Navarette, for example, a dozen yards from the municipal albergue, there is Albergue Buen Camino (http://www.alberguebuencamino.es). The owner of this private albergue also runs a hostal right next door with private en suite rooms. In mid-July, at the height of The Camino season, there were beds available in the albergue and rooms available in the hostal.

In Cirueña, I stayed at the new and comfortable Albergue Casa Victoria (http://wisepilgrim.com/albergue/casa-victoria). It offers private rooms as well as dormitory style rooms that sleep only four people. It’s a quarter of a mile off The Camino route so perhaps not as popular as other albergues directly on the route. As there were only I and one other person, I opted for one of the two bottom bunks in the dormitory room rather than paying the heftier cost of a private room.

Another benefit of private albergues is that owners often augument their income by offering a three course dinner with wine and bread. Such a meal typically runs seven or eight euros, which is very reasonable because bars and restaurants typically charge ten or more euros for the same.

If you’re relying upon the albergues listed in one of the several guides available for the Camino Francés, you are going to face stiff competition. Additonally, albergues that are directly on The Camino route tend to fill up early and don’t need to advertise. To find those accommodations that are slightly off the main route, your best bet is to pay attention to small signs posted on The Camino before reaching a town because out-of-the-way establishments will make an effort to attract business.

This sign was posted on the side of an irrigation chute en route to Cirueña.
This sign was posted on the side of an irrigation chute en route to Cirueña.

For the most part, private rooms for one are rare, but I did have a room for one, with sink, in Santiago de Compostela at the Albergue Seminario Menor (http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187508-d1545943-Reviews-Albergue_Seminario_Menor-Santiago_de_Compostela_A_Coruna_Province_Galicia.html). It is very basic lodging but clean and comfortable enough for 15€. A major advantage of the private room in this albergue is that you can leave your belongings in the room during the daytime if you are booked to stay more than one night. (A word of warning: don’t presume for a moment that your private room here is secure. There are placards reminding pilgrims not to leave valuables, and my door had visible signs of forced entry at some point. One afternoon I happened to be in the room, with the door locked, when someone in the hallway attempted to open the door. I didn’t respond but listened as the person went down the hall trying all the door handles.)

The enormous albergue housed in a former seminary school is somewhat apart from the main part of Santiago and, hence, has lower prices.
The enormous albergue housed in a former seminary school is somewhat apart from the main part of Santiago and, hence, has lower prices.

Double rooms are common. If you’re traveling with someone or if you’re fed up and tired to the bone and just want a good night’s sleep, a private room in an albergue might be for you. If you’re too late to get a dormitory bed and you don’t want to continue walking until you find the next albergue, this might be an option. But be warned, it’s rarely an inexpensive option.

Between Roncesvalles** and Burgos, more or less, an albergue bed runs ten to twelve euros ($11 –13, £7 – 8.50) per night. Then the beds begin to get cheaper, eight or maybe seven euros. From León onward, you can easily find a bed for five euros ($5.50, £3.50) per night. If you want a private room in an albergue, however, the cheapest I can recall is thirty euros ($33, £21) and, typically, they were forty ($44, £28) or fifty euros ($55, £35), especially on the earlier stages of The Camino.

Of course, 50€ is very inexpensive by some standards. But if you’re comparing 5€ for a bed in a shared room against 50€ for a private room in the same building, perhaps even right next door to the shared room, 50€ looks pretty darned expensive.

Bear in mind that you’ll find every manner of accommodation available at all different prices, and there simply is no “best way” to go about finding lodging that meets all your criteria (unless you’re looking for the least expensive, bar none). The only thing to do is keep an open mind, ask questions, weigh your options, and make your best choice.

In Sleeping on The Camino, Part 4, I will discuss alternatives for private rooms that are not part of the typical multi-bed, dormitory style albergue. Stay tuned.

Albergue/pensión offering multiple types of accommodation.
Albergue/pensión offering multiple types of accommodation.

**I didn’t mention St. Jean Pied de Port because, this being the more or less official start of the Camino Francés, an albergue (auberge in French) tends to run higher. Even quite a bit higher. I had been one week in France prior to spending a week in Madrid and then going on to begin The Camino. Prices in France were considerably higher than they were in Spain for just about everything.

*Photo of Denise Thiem courtesy of AZCentral.com.

The Light and Dark of Travel

I’ve been to so many beautiful places across the globe. In fact, I can’t think of a single place that isn’t beautiful in its own right. There are times when selective vision helps to block out human intervention on the landscape and imagination helps to fill in the voids left behind, but, on the whole, the entire world is just plain beautiful. That said, it’s ironic that what I enjoy most about travel is not the intrinsic beauty of a place. No, it’s the people, those very same people who altered the landscape that I sometimes do my best to avoid seeing. People. What I love most about traveling are the people I encounter…their habits and customs, their beliefs and attitudes, even their appearance. It’s the people who fill me with wonder and awe.

Spaniards are a lovely people. They are open and accepting. They love to talk, sometimes all of them at once, about issues that inspire them to boisterous agreement or disagreement, but in the end, they accept and move on. Spaniards are hospitable and kind. I’ve met many people who are eager to know about my life in another part of the world. Many on The Camino offered a glass of wine, a cookie, or…ahem…a cigarette. I can’t abide the smell of cigarettes, but I can admit that there is something languid and leisurely about sitting back in one’s chair, tilting one’s head back, and slowly releasing a narrow plume of smoke that drifts upward and away. The image is one of pure relaxation.

In the evenings Spaniards go en masse to the streets where they stroll, eat, drink, and enjoy life with leisure.
In the evenings Spaniards go en masse to the streets where they stroll, eat, drink, and enjoy life with leisure.

Spaniards, on the whole, are laid back people. Sometimes, in my rental car, while waiting at a crosswalk, I use a stopwatch to see just exactly how long it can take someone to saunter across the street. I always take a book with me to the post office because it can take longer to buy a postage stamp than it takes for the letter to arrive once posted. (The postal system, Correos, inside Spain is very efficient.) At the market, where you must wait your turn to be served by the shopkeeper who tends to only one customer at a time, Spaniards never buy just one thing. It’s a kilo of potatoes, half a kilo of carrots, half a kilo of red peppers, a head of lettuce, three cucumbers, a kilo of onions, half a watermelon, a kilo of peaches, a bunch of parsley, four lemons, a pomegranate, and two heads of garlic.

Customers await their turn for the shopkeeper's attention.
Customers  in Ezcaray await their turn for the shopkeeper’s attention.

All in all, the pace of life in Spain is pretty slow. But put Spaniards on an airplane and an inexplicable transformation takes place. These amiable, easygoing people become darkly single-minded. Overhead lockers, for example, become prime parking space and Spaniards will run, jump, and force their way past other passengers to shove their bags into an empty spot that someone else is just about to occupy. One Spaniard, who “cut off” another passenger in a dangerous maneuver, then turned with a smile of relief, truly oblivious to the other passenger’s dilemma about where to stow a bag.

I booked a two and a half hour flight on EasyJet, a no-frills airline, from Madrid to London. I didn’t want to risk being wedged between passengers so when I bought the ticket, I paid an additional twelve euros for a guaranteed seat assignment. When boarding time came, I occupied my aisle seat toward the front of the plane. Along came a Spanish couple and their sixteen or seventeen year old daughter. They entreated me to exchange my aisle seat at the front of the plane for a center seat at the back of the plane so that the three of them could sit together. I kindly declined the opportunity explaining I had paid for the seat I was occupying. There then followed a barrage of insults, in Spanish, complaining about how ill-mannered some foreigners are. I laughed and said, in perfect Spanish, that pretty soon we would be in Great Britain and then the shoe would be on the other foot. Well, anybody who’s ever tried to learn a foreign language knows full well that you can’t make a literal translation of an idiom. All three of them looked at my feet, back at my face, and then quietly sat down without further discussion.

Not even the Germans bother to try to keep the Spaniards in check. (Remember, I’m talking about airline travel here.) Yesterday on my Lufthansa flight from Madrid to Frankfurt, there was general chaos as the recently landed plane approached the gate. Well before it had come “to a complete stop and the captain [had] turned off the fasten seatbelt sign,” Spaniards were up and moving. Two people raced up the aisle toward the front of the plane, colliding with another passenger who was charging down the aisle to reclaim the suitcase she had stowed in the overhead bin in the back of the plane. Once retrieved, she lofted it overhead and then pushed her way through other passengers who, despite the plane still moving, were crowding the aisle. Already overhead bins had flewn open and luggage was being yanked out with a sense of urgency. One bag coming down met with the head of one passenger attempting to stand up.

Another passenger shouted several rows back to anyone who would listen, “Hand me the black bag with the pink tag.” She shouted several times before the bag was finally removed from the bin and shunted over the heads of passengers in the aisle until it reached its owner.

And then we waited. It’s a simple fact of flying: only one person at a time can exit through the door at the front of the plane. I’ve long maintained that when a large plane arrives at an airport, the back of the plane arrives twenty minutes later than the front of the plane. All the rush in the back of the plane only serves to highlight the inevitable wait.

Upon disembarking, some Spaniards jostled passed me and rushed up the gang way. A short while later, as I passed through the baggage collection area, I saw the same people standing, chatting, laughing, and patiently waiting alongside a carousel that hadn’t yet begun to disgorge its cargo. So much for the rush. They had begun to revert to their pre-flight amiability. They would soon be ordering a few pints and discussing matters of interest well into the night, meanwhile I, thinking about the work ahead, was just beginning my own transformation to the dark side…

Is the Customer Still King? (Update)

Hmmm. Marriott Customer Care has responded to my tongue in cheek response to their dismissive response to my email asserting that a reservation was cancelled without prompting from me. Maybe Kara P. realized I wasn’t asking for anything?

Hello Claudia L.

Thank you for your reply regarding the Fairfield Inn & Suites Potomac Mills Woodbridge.

I shared the details you provided with the executive team at the hotel. They will take action and respond to you soon. I ask that you allow us three to five business days to resolve this issue.

You can count on Marriott to improve your experience in the future.

Safe travels,

Kara P.

Marriott Customer Care

Is the Customer Still King?

Speaking of kings…I mean, customer service, whatever happened to the saying championed by Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s) in the early 1900’s, “The customer is always right.”? Innumerable business self-help books and gurus say that it costs X times as much to get a new customer as it does to keep an existing customer. Corollary: Take care of your customers and they’ll keep coming back.

I used to be a top-tier rewards customer at Marriott International. I planned my travels, as much as possible, around availability of Marriott hotels. I was a completely loyal customer, and I was the best kind of promotion for Marriott because I used to tell others how great the company is: how it takes terrific care of its employees, who in turn take terrific care of its customers. Little by little over the last few years, however, I’ve found that, while Marriott hotels are still clean and comfortable, the customer service at times just doesn’t warrant the premium one pays to stay at a Marriott. If I can find a reasonably less expensive option with equal comfort and cleanliness, I’m likely to stray.

I dropped down from top-tier, to middle tier, and then to the bottom tier rewards level. Last year I actually fell below the minimum number of nights’ stayed to maintain the bottom tier, but Marriott graciously awarded me bottom tier again for 2015. I was touched. Honestly.  I thought, “That’s good customer service, and smart business.” It made me feel good again about Marriott.

I’ll earn my bottom tier status for 2016, but my most recent Marriott experience has again thrown into doubt my loyalty. Why? I booked a reservation for a single night in Woodbridge, Virginia. That Marriott is ten miles from where I want to be the following morning. There are Hiltons, Hyatts, and a number of other chain and independent hotels available within one mile of my destination, but I figured I’d brave the extra nine miles of morning traffic in order to express my gratitude to Mr. Marriott.

But a peculiar thing happened…well, read it for yourself. My brief exchange with Marriott Customer Care follows:

———

Hello,

The most peculiar thing happened. I received notification for cancellation of a reservation. The problem is…I didn’t cancel the reservation. Here is the information from the email:

RESERVATION CANCELLED: 8xxxxxxx0

Reservation Cancellation: 5xxxxxx0

I will attempt to rebook but I am bringing this to your attention because it is very strange and also worrying. There are times when losing a reservation, particularly this close to the date of stay, would be devastating.

 Sincerely,

Claudia L.

——–

Hello Claudia L.

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to Marriott Customer Care today. I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.

Based on your inquiry, I have researched the history of your cancelled reservation. I did locate that you cancelled the booking on Marriott.com on July 28, 2015.

Safe travels,

Kara P.

Marriott Customer Care

——–

Hi Kara P.,

Thanks for your reply informing me that I cancelled the reservation about which I wrote to you to say I hadn’t cancelled. Thanks too for apologize for the inconvenience I caused when I cancelled the reservation.

I will go immediately to my doctor and ask for treatment for sleepwalking. While I’m there, I’ll ask for a referral to a psychiatrist so I can find out why I seem to have developed an aversion to Woodbridge, Virginia, a place I’ve never been before.

I sure hope this aversion doesn’t spread to Kalapaki Beach, Kauai.

Yours truly,

Claudia L.

Customer

———

I’ve never been to Kalapaki Beach either, but I’m hoping to go. I’ve been saving reward points for decades and pretty soon I’m going to blow them out. I’ve always believed that Marriott’s customer service would be as accommodating to members who pay with points as they are to customers who pay with cash. Now I’m not sure about either.