Day 28: Ferreiro to Palas del Rei
Last night was tough going. While I was happy to have a roof over my head and a mattress, no matter how grubby, it did not mean a good night’s sleep was assured. You would think after 40km I’d sleep like a log but the midnight showering woman, the snoring choir and the frightening sight of another male face inches away from mine when I rolled over did, somehow, not induce sleep. This combined with a very cold night meant I slept very little.
I woke up, not grumpy, but not exactly overjoyed at having to walk over 30km today. After having spent nine hours walking yesterday I did not relish another eight today. Nonetheless I got on with it, shouldered my pack, ignored my newly created blisters, thanks to having to wear sandals and just got on with walking. It was eerily dark with shadows cast in all directions by my torchlight searching for yellow arrows. When light eventually arrived it remained filtered through a fog and mist that remained hanging in the air until well after 11am. I trudged on and after awhile my body took over and just began to walk while my mind wandered. I still wasn’t quite into the walk but I was ok.
After a few hours of mist walking and mind wandering I arrived at my breakfast destination of Portomarin. A beautiful river port city graced by a sleek bridge and nice old town it was a perfect breakfast destination. I was happily surprised to see my two Portuguese foot heeling friends there. I joined them for breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed their lively company. This despite the fact that their Camino was over, one of the girls’ bodies had given out and so they were returning to Lisbon tonight. Despite this they remained upbeat. When I left one of them described to me the wealth of emotions she had felt when reaching Santiago in a previous Camino. This, along with their interesting company, left me feeling reinvigorated and looking forward to the rest of the day’s walk. Once again the old saying about the Camino came true – when you need something the Camino delivers. I needed to be sparked back into life and so it was.
I climbed from Portomarin into the hills beyond. I walked through a beautiful forest of slender trees and forest ferns. From there the day slowly wandered beside a main road before crossing through country areas and up, down and around little farms and hamlets. In one such place I ran into some friends and walked with them awhile. Eventually it was just me and the Italian doctor walking together and we spent a pleasant couple of hours wandering into town discussing everything from the Camino, to Australia, to Rome to Silvio Berlusconi.
Eventually arriving in Palas del Rei at about 2:30pm I went to the first of two Albergues in town only to be told it was completo (full) an almost unheard of thing to occur so early in the day. I walked up the street to the other Albergue where I met a friend I hadn’t seen in over a week, we chatted and then I asked for a bed to be told by the hospitalera that I had just been given the very last bed. Whew, two nights in a row I’ve been lucky.
That evening I dined with Korean friends I hadn’t seen in ages. It was nice to see old faces in the sea of new ones. The Camino since Sarria is a far less pleasant experience. Large groups of Spanish people who walk small sections with little day packs and interact very seldomly with other peregrinos makes for a very different experience to the rest of the Camino where people took an active interest in each other. Even my Spanish friends commented on this saying they didn’t like the feel of the Camino since Sarria. It’s a pity but it is still part of the whole experience I guess
Tomorrow another longer day of just over 30km. After that it’ll just be two short days and I’ll be in Santiago de Compostela.
— Posted from my phone