Vega de Valcarce
100 miles to Santiago
Tonight I sit almost exactly 100 miles from Santiago. That means I´ve come 400. That´s insane.
Granted, I did bus about 1/3rd of that across the meseta. But I´m still happy with the miles I´ve covered.
I need to meet mom tomorrow in Sarria, which is about 50 kms from where I´m sleeping tonight. Obviously, that´s not going to happen in one day on foot. Especially on my feet. So I´ve convinced one of the guys who taxis bags from albuergue to albuergue to let me ride along to Sarria tomorrow. Originally I thought I´d go 15-20 kms outside of Sarria and then walk in, but the bag guy has to stay on his schedule which won´t put him here until 11, and that would be too late to start walking. So, tomorrow I go to Sarria by car. It´s a bit of a bummer not to walk but this way will be much cheaper than taking a proper taxi so it´s worth it.
Today was a great day walking. There were two options – one up and over a mountain and one entirely along a major highway. The highway saves you 1 km and a lot of elevation change, but I was still surprised how few people chose the mountain route. Really, it was too bad for them because it was absolutely breathtaking. Coming down though, the trail was very poorly marked and the ground was entirely covered with fallen leaves which was gorgeous but made for a tricky navigation. Luckily, I met a German guy just as I had turned the wrong way and he was much better at deciphering the trail than me. He also had a guidebook that had better instructions than ´stay straight´(thanks for nothing John Brierley).
So today was a total success, and tomorrow I meet mom in Sarria. Now I´m off to prepare myself a grand feast. Life is good.
At this moment I am sitting on the patio with my german friends. We had a homemade dinner and wine from the region and now Sebastian is playing guitar as we watch the sky turn to purple then silver. Silloutted by the fading light are the mountains above us, and at their peak are the ruins of some ancient castle. This doesn´t seem real.
Palas de Rei
42 miles to Santiago
I didn´t write at all the last two days because mom is here and the evenings seem to pass faster with her around. Her iPhone serves as a good distraction as well. Ah sweet technology!
Yesterday was mom´s first day walking and she did great! I can honestly say I was walking at my normal pace and she kept up just fine. It also didn´t hurt that it was a beautiful, beautiful day – both weather and terrain-wise. Today, however, was a different story. We walked on the road almost the entire day and the weather was the worst it´s been since I´ve come to Spain. All morning was overcast and terribly windy – I´m talking gusts that blow dirt in your face and almost knock you over. And add to that pouring rain – at times almost horizontal because of the wind – and you have the recipe for a pretty horrible day. But it wasn´t that bad, and in most ways I´m glad my mom got to experience it. Because you don´t walk the camino for nice weather and pretty views. The ugly is part of the physical, spiritual, and emotional challenge. And even though she had her moments (as did I), mom was able to face it all with a pretty good sense of humor and I´m proud of her!
I have to say that although staying in hotels is really, really nice, it´s not the same experience without the albuergues. It´s not better or worse neccessarily, it´s just different. I don´t think I´d want to do it like this if I was traveling alone, as it does isolate you quite a bit, but it´s great if you´re wanting a more intimate experience with someone else. At this point I´m really, really, happy mom´s here.
25 miles to Santiago
Had some technical difficulties this morning when we awoke to find all of the wet clothes we had hung to dry the night before were still drenched. It was 10:30 before, with the help of a hair dryer and the hotel´s single drying machine that was taken until 9:45, we had clothes suitable for walking. Even on a normal day this would be a very late start but even more so today as we had 30 kms ahead of us.
So yes, we got a taxi – but only because we never would of made it to Azúra without one! And once we left the hotel we knew we´d be without any method of communication (aka our American cell phones would not be able to summon a taxi for us later on). The cab dropped us off in the next major town, which at about 15 kms away would have been the halfway point of our walk, and was still a respectable 15 kms from our destination city.
In the end I think those wet clothes were the best thing that could have happened to us as the way – which according to our guidebook was almost totally flat – was actually quite hilly. That would have made for a very long 30 kms. Plus the quick cab ride allowed us time to take a long lunch in order to sample a local specialty – puplo gallega (boiled octopus) – which although it looked pretty gross was actually very tasty.
So now we are less than 40 kms from Santiago with two relatively easy days ahead of us – the homestretch! It doesn´t feel that close to be honest, as I´ve been walking so long it´s hard to imagine doing anything else. But I think I´ll be ready.
PS – it hailed today! And I thought rain was fun!
13 miles to Santiago
After a late, cold, rainy start the day brightened up and was beautiful by lunchtime. Really when I think about today most of it was totally pleasant. Mom and I made our best time yet, going 20ish kms in about 6 1/2 hours.
Tomorrow we arrive in Santiago. I still can´t wrap my head around that. Hopefully I´ll come up with more words when I get there…