Os Penedos, Spain
Hola, amigos. The first three days in this last part of the Camino, have been mega-hikes for me, completing one full stage each day. With pack, it’s okay, until half way, when my straps are a problem. If you want to become rich fast, invent real strap pads that work and blister-proof shoes and socks. For all the research and opinions about how to avoid blisters, conflicting data and advice abound. I now have two blisters on the top of my toes, most likely because I’ve hiked long days without stopping to take off shoes and socks and dry out my feet.
In this lush and varied area of Galicia, I have stayed in two Albergues and two pensions. Today I have been hiking with a South African family, a brother and two sisters, Fabio, Serena and Sandra, younger than me, but within a decade or two. These pilgrims are the hardiest and most intrepid hikers I’ve seen. I really couldn’t keep up with them. They had only one week to hike and since I wanted to stay with them, I ended up walking much farther than I imagined I could. I hardly stopped, but they took long lunches and breaks and caught up with me quickly. And they hiked in sandals and running shoes with blisters on their feet. They sang medleys and were so much fun. They nicknamed me Queen Irene and made the second part of my Camino so rewarding, fun, and warmed my heart. What an amazing stroke of luck to meet these three awesome pilgrims. We part and meet again along the Way.
We ended up, not lost, but following a guidebook that led us to the only accommodations within 8 km. However it was 1.5 km off the Camino. Sometimes a map or guide leads you to a place you might never see or want to see. We had a hard time finding this Albergue and sent Fabio on to walk another half mile to see if he could find it. Yes, but it is a private, not well signed building, near a freeway. At that point we were thrilled, as it was getting late. We were surprised any other pilgrims would join us in our dorm room, but an American father and son walked here too, so we had lots to share. Still, I’m in a dorm now and the freeway competes with the snoring. Last night’s sleep in downtown Melide was the best I’ve had in my own room. But, it was on the fourth floor, an elevator building and not with any other pilgrims.
Enough about sleep, but the Camino is about mental, spiritual and physical health. And some way they connect. Since I am so close to Santiago, I had planned on a shorter walk, but that didn’t happen. I spent most of my morning taking pictures and jotting down notes, reflections, meditating. It was a joyful departure from worrying about getting to the next stage.
I have been awed in the past two days by sites others may find just part of the landscape. Yesterday, I was tired and hoping to end my hike soon, when I rounded a corner and as in my earlier walks, I was amazed to see fields of sunflowers. They took my breath away. What beauty, what color in nature.
Today, again, the uphills seemed never to end, but as they gave way to more even, shady terrain, I spotted a tent in a meadow, then a donkey and his keeper, Roland, from Hungary, I think, who has walked all over with his donkey and has a FB page, too. He spoke excellent English and knew about RL Stevenson’s “Travels With a Donkey, ” claiming we couldn’t compare because RLS didn’t like his Donkey. I have his story and a sello for my pilgrim passport, pictures and the continued excitement of being surprised on the Camino.
On to the next stage and hope to walk to Santa Irene tomorrow, depending on weather, feet and knees. We are less than 40 km from Santiago. Buen Camino, amigos.