Hola amigos. The next few blogs are catch- up posts. I have completed the Espiritual Variant, but you can still walk with me now as a look back to this amazing route. And mixed tenses as I’m writing in past and present.
Here is a recap:
22 of September, 2019. We are almost ready to begin walking on the Rua del Piedra y Agua, Route of Stone and Water on the Spiritual Variant. I walked yesterday and today to get here. There are three stages, on this Variant of the Camino Portuguese: Pontevedra to Armenteira 21 kms, (that rainy day I divided in half, staying in a Monastery in Poio) Armenteira to Nova de Arousa 24 kms and 28 kms by boat to Padrón. Pilgrims choose the Variant outside of Pontevedra. Turn Left, you’re walking the Variant.
I departed from Poio from the Monastery with amazing walls of Camino Mosaics) and walked through the seaport town of Combarro,
found the yellow arrows that took me higher and higher above the town on today’s solo walk. First winding uphill streets (reminded me of Arcade on the Central Camino Portuguese) and then a steep ascent on the way to Armenteira.
There were a lot of bikers on the hilly roads, like a race or training group. And a horse. I was tired and thinking how good it would be if my friends Candie and Stephanie would surprise me, riding up the hill on their mules and take me up and carry my pack too, although my backpack is just right. Is that a mirage of the mind? It was cool and cloudy with about five minutes of a light sprinkle.
My knee was hurting as I first ascended and then walked down the steep descent. I’m so happy to have my lightweight walking poles that I purchased in Porto. And. . . although today was relatively short, it seemed to go on forever.
After I finally arrived in Armenteira I couldn’t find the Albergue or the hotel. And there were lots of tourists and bikers at the sidewalk cafe. I visited the tourist center for directions. I’m too tired to take pictures and I have to read a map.
Right away I walked out of the main area of Armenteira to the Albergue on the Camino that is on the way out of town, with a pilgrim from Germany. We chatted about the world and then the subject turned to snoring. He said he snores only a little unless he drinks too much. Then he said it shouldn’t bother me because, you know, old people can’t hear anyway. Ha!
We found the Albergue, registered, chose our beds and luckily I had a lower bunk, at the possibly quieter front end. Beautiful bed with a light and electrical plug. I am easy to please. And it was wonderful. Clean, tables for eating, gathering and blankets for the cold night. Since I’m traveling bare bones, I have no towel or blanket, just my silk liner. Sometimes I can rent a towel and sometimes not.
This is a public Albergue (run by the Xunta in Galicia like a municipal). Mucho affordable for many pilgrims who may be on a budget, 6€.
I was so ready to stop walking, if I had come across the 100€ pousada first, that would have been it for the day and night. Though I wasn’t sure about an Albergue, today it called my name. I will tell you now, I’m so happy I answered the call.
At the Albergue there were many pilgrims who seemed to have formed a Camino family on the Camino Portuguese. They welcomed and included me immediately. What a stroke of luck!
I walked back into town with Christoph and Ines from Germany. We connected and had much to share and discuss. Sociopolitical topics are no longer off-limits. What an awesome couple and this Camino is their vacation. Later Ines set out a mattress in a back hall in case I needed to escape the snoring. And that’s another story.
Next morning everyone was up early because of snoring. It’s funny, right? Maybe. It was 5:00 and at least ten pilgrims were waiting for even a hint of daylight. Sunrise was 8:30. Pilgrims often leave in the dark, but this route needs light for safety and to see the stones and water on Ruta da Piedra e da Agua. A few people smoked on the patio. Finally two or three at a time left with headlamps bright. I wasn’t planning to walk in the shaded woods in the dark. And at that time I thought I was walking alone.
But let’s fast forward and now it’s about 7:30, not quite sunrise, and I’m on the trail with Anya, Paulina and Oliver from Germany, who met on the Camino.
The next hours were beautiful with the sounds of water, the stone mills appearing like magic around bends and near the banks of the river, the day slowly developing like a photo in the darkroom until everything was lit with dappled sunlight and shade, the river flowing and the trail easier to follow.
And everyone taking pictures. Everyone!
To be continued. Buen Camino