Day 13: Ligonde a Melide

We wake up early. It is drizzly. We dawn ponchos and pack covers and keep on trucking. 

A local cafe worker tells us she has worked and lived there for 17 years. 

“It’s beautiful,” I say. “You have so many beautiful plants.”

She shrugs. “Me acostumbré.” I’ve gotten used to it. (Though she smiles as she says it)

We pass through Palais do Rei, which feels beautiful and cosmopolitan after a few days of rainy country hiking. We see a range of stores, bars, albergues and signs of normal Spanish life. It is a city I could see myself living in (um, based on 15 minutes walking through it at 9am in the rain).

We arrive at out destination, Melide, early, around noon. 

“What do you think?” asks one of my travel companions. 

We’re here early. “Let’s keep going,” I suggest. 

“Maybe we stop here,” he answers weakly (ojo: this is foreshadowing)

We walk through the rather deserted centro hístorico (historic center) to find our albergue. 

It is still raining. We find lunch and then stamps and food for the next day. 

Also, for those of you wondering what middle school dorkage looks like, here’s me (dry, to be fair) in my Grandpa’s poncho:

Advertisements

Day 12: Gonzar a Ligonde

We take a rest day. Sort of. 

We start hiking. It is drizzling. The staff at the albergue recommend another albergue up the road. We hike in the drizzlyness. 

When we arrive at our designated stop, we have a coffee. And decide to keep hiking. We hike another 5 kilometers, then take a break at a bar (restaurant). A steady stream of poncho-clad pilgrims walks by, drenched in the rain. 

One thing I am learning is that public albergues open at 1pm and you have to be present to get a spot. At 12:45, we move across the street to wait in line at the albergue which quickly fills up (there are 18 beds and it is a small town)

Right place at the right time, I guess. 

Day 11: Barbadelo a Gonzar

We have officially passed Sarría, which means we are (almost) less than 100 kilometers to Santiago. The roads get more crowded as many people are walking the last 100 km to officially make the pilgrimage. (I hope this doesn’t come across as judgmental) (Side note: walking and kilometers throws off my sense of distance – 100 km sounds much further than it is)

It is drizzly. Then it is sunny. It is mostly green. 

We reach Portomarín around lunch. It feels busy with pilgrims, so we keep walking. 

Afternoons on the Camino make me a little nervous. It’s hotter. It feels like there are fewer places to stop. 

This afternoon hike is pleasant. We are able to walk mostly in the shade. There are still pilgrims, but it is not a crazy stream. 

So I guess afternoon hikes are not so bad after all. Maybe we are just more used to it. 

Day 10: Samos a Barbadelo

We deviate from El Camino yet again to follow a road that is shorter. A friendly local tries to call us back, which is more than I’ve ever done for a tourist. 

The road is very green and there are lots of farms and farm smells (there are also lots of cars and few cafes).

As we enter Sarria, our nearest big city and the unofficial 100 km measure from Santiago de Compostela, a nice old woman tells us about all the horror stories and Horrible Stories that Happen to Americans en El Camino. I need to get antihistamines from a pharmacy so we go into the city anyway. 

We end up drinking 2 rounds of coffee in a local cafe and watching local citizens do their thing. 

We get back on El Camino, which promptly takes us past a lot of new hotels. Feels so different from our morning walk. 

(To be fair, we end up at an albergue with a pool, so I don’t really get to judge/comment…)

Day 9: Fonfría a Samos

Once again, we deter from the road to go along the scenic route. Someone’s alarm goes off at 5:30, but they aren’t there to turn it off (brushing teeth or somesuch), which is perhaps the downside of 90 person albergues. 

It’s cool and pleasant as we walk downhill and there are even more rivers (with fish!) as we walk through the scenic route. 

We walk all over town and eventually find an albergue. I take a nap and we spend the rest of the day resting and reading from the same table out on the street. 

Day 8: Ambasmestas a Fonfría

In my head, I am always looking for the next mountain and trying to figure out how high it is and how it is similar or different to our last mountain. Must be the American in me. 

We are on the road early. There was word of rain (which happened at midnight). 

As it turns out, we have left early enough that it is generally cool while we are walking. Additionally, we are entering the region of Galicia, which, at least in the mountains, is foggy and misty. Which is exactly the weather we need. 

As a Californian, I struggle with whether or not to use a raincoat (let alone put on a jacket or take off the sunglasses).

We quickly learn that it is important to order caldo (soup). I am also intrigued by the use of “x” in place of “j” and sometimes “s”.

When I ask an in keeper about “Quexo do Cerbeiro”, she explains that it is cheese (queso), not complaints (quejo). She also asks why Americans say “ahhhh” when they are thinking. Don’t the flies go in?

Throughout the day, I manage to drop one book and to lose both my soap and maps. Sigh. 

We walk further than expected and end up at an albergue which apparently sleeps 90. Must be close to Santiago. 

Day 7: Trabadelo a Ambasmestas

We hike 5 kilometers and decide to take a rest day. 

It is glorious. A kindly Russian couple prepare pancakes, soup and trout. We do actual laundry (washing clothes in a sink or on a piedra is good, but not quite the same). I read “The Fault in Our Stars (thanks, AmusingMathias) in basically on sitting, then take a nap. 

It is a lot like base camp from when we used to hike in Boy Scouts. 

No complaints here.