Hola amigos, I am catching up on my stories. We are in the Galician area of Spain, walking closer each day to Santiago. Rain is predicted, and expected for the green and lush region. I know I’m in Galicia, too, because I’ve seen many Horreos. Do you what these are?
The Route is lush, green and beautiful. And I am walking on more hard surfaces than ever before.
Two days ago, I walked about 22 Kms on a challenging, so-called, short route and the most interesting and beautiful in my opinion. Hard surface most of the way. Pavement, asphalt, even some dirt trails have a hard surface base. In fact the tips of my poles are worn with less than 100 Kms and should last three times as long. Some poles have Spring suspension for shock absorption. I’ve never needed them, but the last few days I’ve noticed muscles in my lower arms are acting as shock absorbers, so I’ve been carrying the poles unless the hills are steep. What a real-life illustration on impact of hard surfaces on our bodies. We walked on steep hills in villages and in wilderness areas.
The Way walks on or crosses N550 often and that’s scary with trucks and speeding cars whizzing by. And then quiet, birds, forest, the tapping of hiking poles, wildflowers and the chance to meet other Pilgrims.
I left late, 8:30, because I stopped by the clinic to have the dressing on my arm changed and all is good. But the late start meant a hot walking day.
I had a reservation in the next town, Arcade, much closer than I thought and I arrived by 10:30. I said good bye to a German Pilgrim I had been hiking with and sharing meaningful conversation, a new Camino friend I was sad to leave, as she was going on to Pontevedra. (I just received an email and a picture from her. Perhaps we’re in the same town now!).
I found the highly recommended Albergue closed until 14:00 and decided to move on. Too bad, the setting is spectacular and the town looks like a resort. Next time!
So I hiked alone for most of the walk, seeing only a few other pilgrims.
When Camino Angels appeared in the form of kind residents selling fruit and drinks for donativo (pay what you want, but it should be reasonable) I have never been so grateful to see a smiling face, fruit, water and assurances that I was only so many Kms to the end of the woods or the next town. I trudged on at a record slow pace, wishing I had packed lighter each step.
Then I hiked through a cool fern forest, incredibly beautiful and serene like I have never seen before.
I took the alternative route, to avoid the traffic and added 1.5 Kms, the last 4 Kms through an unexpected and peaceful natural area and the first soft dirt trail. More ferns, wildflowers and plants, birdsong, a riverside, O rio Tomeza gently running along the Camino trail, abundant shade. Paradise. In more than an hour I saw no one, and at times felt like I was in a maze, or retracing my steps, but finally I reached the end and walked on to Pontevedra, a busy and spread out town of 80,000 people, which felt like a mega city.
I was wiped out! Now to find a place to stay, instead of having my arrangements somewhat at hand. I passed the municipal Albergue at the beginning of town, as I remembered the name of accommodations a walker mentioned, so that became my search. The city felt like another maze. Maybe this is why many municipal Albergues are on the Camino at the entrance to towns.
One more step is sometimes one step too many.
I had expected about 8 Kms and now I walked 20 plus. Ah, that’s my Camino. Another reminder about planning and reality. This walking meditation that is Camino, is a way to the practice of letting go.
Of course at almost 17:00, many Albergues were completo and I searched for. . . Anything. I checked into a pension, only 20 €, bath down the hall.
Grateful for choices and surprises . . .
Sigh, each day is different on the Camino. I walked around for a while in the crowded city, looking for dinner at a reasonable-for-me time. Until 21:00 most restaurants serve tapas and drinks. Finally I sat down, ordered tortilla and considered my next days. So many real-life lessons on the Way.
I will soon report from Caldas de Reis, about 22 Kms up the trail. Up and down hills and surprises always. Gracias for walking with me, amigos.
Gratitud y Buen Camino, Irene