Foggy Galician morning
Today I get up early, for the weather report says rain in the afternoon. My goal for today is Pedrouzo, about 23 km away. It's the last stop before Santiago de Compostela, and this last route would be about 22 km. I have breakfast at the restaurant with Rory and Rebecca. They are very quite, especially Rebecca barely says one word. The two have met at the beginning of the Camino and have walked all the way together for the last 4 weeks. The restaurant's tv shows pictures of the volcano, and Rory goes online to check his flight. Apparently it's cancelled. He doesn't seem very much concerned, and so ain't I. I have absolutely no desire to check what's going on with my flight on Thursday.
Foggy Galician morning
I'll do that when the time comes. I can't believe I'm so relaxed!
Leaving my backpack at the restaurant for Sergio to pick it up, I take off into a foggy morning. It's spectacular to see the low clouds hanging amongst the trees and laying over the fields. The sound of silence lies in the air, and it's just beautiful! Today I meet more pilgrims, among them Biljana from Germany, whom I will meet again later. This is about the part of the Camino where all the different Caminos come together. The Camino Frances is the most popular route, stretching from France through northern Spain, about 780 km long. Then there are the Via de la Plata (Silver Route), starting from Sevilla or Granada, which is about 1000 km long.
"Ultreia" is a word deriving from the ancient Galician language, which is difficult to translate exactly, but means something like 'Walk further!', 'Walk higher!', 'Onward!' or 'Walk on!'.
The Northern Route or Camino Primitivo is the first pilgrim route and leads along the northern coast in a length of about 825 km. Then there is the Portuguese Route starting from Porto in Portugal with about 230 km. The Camino Ingles has two starting points in northern Spain, A Coruna with 75 km, and Ferrol with 110 km. There are other Routes that are becoming more and more popular, like the Camino de Madrid and Camino Aragones. An extension to all the routes is the Finisterre-Muxia Way, leading about 90 km from Santiago to "the end of the world".
When I get to Calzade, I see a bar on the road and it's crowded. There in the sun sit Rory and Rebecca and they invite me to join them for a coffee. We sit in silence, have our coffee and some cookies and observe a herd of cows passing by.
Suddenly, a crowd of people pop out from nowhere. It's about 20 of them, and they are pretty loud. Rory says that these pilgrims were brought here by bus, and he calls them "bus-people". These groups stay in comfortable hotels, and their luggage is taken to the next stop by bus. They are also taken to a certain spot on the route by bus, and continue walking comfortably a couple of kilometers. Somehow, it's embarrassing.
I continue my walk, to Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the sky", and ain't that a true pilgrim song, or what? Along the way I meet other pilgrims all the time. Meanwhile, I think about stopping in St. Irene instead of Pedrouzo. Pedrouzo has a big public albergue, while St. Irene has a small private one, which is more appealing to me. Just outside St.
Irene I stop at a picnic site and stumble upon - guess who? - Sergio and Ana! I tell them about my attempt to stop in St. Irene, and we agree to meet there. St. Irene is a very small village located right by the main road. The private albergue looks very, very nice, but it's also very expensive: 13 € per night. I decide to go on to the public one. It's at the end of the village, a small house on the main road. I'm the first guest, and a grumpy landlady checks me in. Then I go sit outside to wait for Sergio and Ana, since there isn't much to do in an empty albergue. It's about 2 p.m. and the sun is shining, and all the other pilgrims keep passing by. Pedrouzo is only another 3 km away, and I start to worry whether I'm gonna be the only guest in this albergue tonight.
Eerie. Stefan comes by, and sits a while with me. I tell him about my concerns, and he tells me a story about him checking-out one time, and getting just half of his money back. But he agrees, this albergue is not nice and it would be no fun to stay here all by myself. I decide to check-out. As I try to explain to only-Spanish-speaking Grumpy my situation, she gets grumpier. From what I can understand, she doesn't want to give me the money back, because she's already issued the bill (?). I don't know how to argue in Spanish and give up. Stefan continues to Pedrouzo, and I continue to sit on the bench watching the cars drive by and the pilgrims walk by. Sergio and Ana arrive, and I explain to them that I will go on to Pedrouzo, but lost the 5 € on Grumpy. Sergio shakes his head and goes inside.
He begins to explain Grumpy my situation, and while he stays calm and nice, Grumpy turns bitchy. She gets all agitated, and from what I can pick up, sees no way to cancel my check-in. But Sergio is persistent, and now I get uncomfortable and hint him to just let it go. He doesn't, and eventually bitchy Grumpy really does give me the money back. But she's not happy about it, and at this point I couldn't give a rat's ass about her bookkeeping. I just want to get out of here. Outside, Sergio winks and smiles at me, and the couple offers to take me to Pedrouzo, since it has started to rain. I can't thank them enough for helping me out like that!
In Pedrouzo, the albergue turns out to be really nice. The landlady wears a smile all over her face and is nice and helpful.
In A Coruna county some waymarks are green.
I make arrangements with Sergio and Ana for tomorrow, and therefore have to book my room in Santiago. I had stayed at a little pension in the old town 4 years ago, and loved it. That's where I wanted to go back again. I knew the landlord spoke only Spanish, so out of a spontaneous decision stopped the first person in the lobby: "Excuse me, do you speak English?" - "Yes" - "Great! Do you speak Spanish?" - "Yes" - "Terrific! Would you please do me a favour?" - "Aehm, it depends..". Before I scare him off, I explain I need to make a booking in Spanish, and he instantly assents. I call up the pension, and Jose, as his name was, made the booking for me. I give Sergio Pension de Estrela's address, and we agree to meet tomorrow at 9 a.m. This went so smooth, I can't believe it! I thank Jose once again, and he seems amused.
My highway angels, Sergio and Ana.
Unlike in most public albergues, the bed room here has a twisted layout, so that you have, like, recesses with 2 bunk beds and 2 single beds in each. Makes it much cosier. My bed neighbour is a young woman who doesn't seem to be very well, and she explains that she has twisted her ankle showing me her swollen foot. Her name is Elisabeth and she's on the Camino with her husband Raul. I figure I've seen more wounded feet in the last 5 days than in my entire life. Then I go have a shower. Now, the bathroom .... it's unisex and the showers don't have doors. The shower walls though are layed out twisted so you are not entirely on display, but it is still uncomfortable. Though I realize, that somehow this doesn't bother me very much. Brittany, I met in Melide, said: "This is the Camino.
My albergue recess.
Go with whatever you get" - she's so right. This includes cold shower. The water is soooo friggin' cold *beep*!
After the shower I go into town to find a computer where I can transfer my photos to a USB stick - my memory card is full, 8GB of photos and film! I find one, but I HAVE to go online, it is not possible to just use Windows. After that I want to buy some food, but it's Sunday, which is actually a discovery, for days and time just have no relevance right now right here. I meet Stefan again, and he says he's going on to Monte de Gozo, which is, like, 15 km away. This guy can walk!
Back at the albergue, I go to the fully equipped :) kitchen to make some soup. Here I meet Christophe from Belgium (so many Belgians out here!), he is making home made onion soup (!) We get into a conversation, and end up having dinner together.
In Pedrouzo, chatting away with Helena and Christophe.
Soon Helena joins us, a Swedish girl, who has walked the whole Camino in 5 weeks. We stay for quite a while in the kitchen and chat, make photos and exchange e-mails. Later Aziz from France joins us. These encounters on the Camino are just fantastic! There are people from all over the world, from various races, believes, occupations, everyone has a story to share. And it seems that each person is accepted as God has attempted him to be. The Camino really is a totally different universe.
After calling home, my mum informs me that the planes still aren't flying ... I'm still not impressed.