We wanderers, ever seeking the lonelier way,
begin no day where we have ended another day;
and no sunrise finds us where sunset left us.
Even while the earth sleeps we travel.
We are the seeds of the tenacious plant,
And it is in our ripeness and our fullness of heart
That we are given to the wind and are scattered
I can’t believe that this is the eve of the end. Was it really one thousand kilometres ago that we stepped out onto this path from Seville… naive and fresh footed and with no idea of what lie ahead of us.
Last night our hostel was ok… not bad but kind of ordinary… and a little damp. I washed our clothes but they were still wet this morning… just as well I only washed one lot… only a pilgrim would say good job we still had our dirty clothes to put on 🙂
None of us slept great… I’m sure the storm and the rain contributed but I’m also sure that today… the eve of the end also played a part.
We met for breakfast at 7.45 and watched the rain through the window. The weather app had said chance of rain… I guess today was not our lucky day. We had our last tostados and cafe con leche breakfast (as travelling pilgrims)… we donned our ponchos and headed off into the rain.
We planned to stop for lunch at Ponte Ulla… 12 kilometres along. Our albergue was 4.6 kilometres beyond this but it had no services around so the idea was that we would shop in Ponte Ulla for supper and breakfast… and then only have to carry the additional food for an hour or so.
The guide says we should expect a sharp descent into the town for 4km followed by an equally sharp ascent out the other side for 4km. What we didn’t want was rain!
We had rain… and lots of it. We walked out of town and into a quiet lane, walking through more beautiful countryside… in the rain. We stepped into more forest and through more tiny villages… in the rain. In one forest Gerry saw a sign that said bar/cafe in 1.6km… 25 minutes at the most so music to our ears… we were all cold and wet and in need of a bathroom. 20 minutes later we saw the same sign… bar/cafe in 800m… Gerry might have said something rude about their distances but regardless we walked on… anticipating that in 10 minutes we’d be out of the rain. 20 minutes later we reached the bar… and it was closed. Gerry swore again.
We ducked under some shelter opposite the church to rest our feet and get out of the rain. We shared our provisions… an apple, a banana and 2 cookies. And when we were done we put the ponchos back on and keep walking… in the rain.
I really needed the bathroom but there was nowhere to stop. The road got steeper. Toes pushed hard inside our shoes. I’m more than a little nervous because my shoes are showing real wear on the tread and wet steep slippery roads covered in wet slippery leaves and chestnuts are not a good mix. We picked our way down slowly but surely. I said I was going ahead and that I would stop in the first bar. That one was closed… I might have sworn that time… the second one was open… thank you St James… thank you thank you thank you.
Maggie formed an orderly queue behind me whilst Gerry ordered hot coffees all round… and the coffee was good.
I left Maggie and Gerry and went in search of the supermarket. The very kind bar owner lent me his umbrella and sent me off with directions. As instructed I bought fruit, bread, cheese, chorizo, nuts, yoghurt, chocolate and cookies… this was to give us supper, breakfast and snacks for our walk in to Santiago tomorrow.
Pleased with my purchases I returned to the bar… the other two had learned that we could have a full lunch here so we moved from bar to dining room and enjoyed soup, followed by lomo (we think) followed by flan… all very tasty. The vino tinto I’m told was awful but the coffee was still great… and better still the rain had stopped.
As we started to think about moving Señora came and asked if we wanted a room now. We explained that we still had another 4.6 kilometres to go before we could stop. Señora came back with a cunning plan… I’ve no idea how I managed to understand her Galician Spanish… but I did. The plan was… leave our bags here. Walk to the next albergue… once there, ring Señora and she would come and find us and bring us back. After breakfast tomorrow she would then return us to that same point.
We looked at each other… we looked at our soggy ponchos and bags… we looked at the very black sky… we thought about the 4 kilometre climb ahead of us and we quickly agreed that Señora was an angel and that we’d love to stay. She showed us to our rooms where we deposited our packs and without further ado we trotted off up the hill.
An hour later we had arrived. The albergue was great but it was a tad chilly. We met a chap from Belgium who was also one day off of his journeys end… but he had walked from home to Assisi… to Rome… to Montpellier… along the coast to Barcelona and Valencia… then walked the Levante until it joined the Via and the Sanabrés camino. He has walked for 7 months and over 5000 kilometres. He says he doesn’t now how he will be able to return to his old life and that he had spent a lot of today crying in the rain… I understood how he felt.
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
It is not far, it is within reach,
Perhaps you have been on it since you were born and did not know,
Perhaps it is everywhere on water and on land
We’re dreaming of home. I miss Matt… I miss our own bed… the woodburner lit and roaring… cottage pie with veg and apple crumble for pudding… a hot mug of tea, curled up on the sofa watching Bake Off… home isn’t far away now.
But I will miss walking… I will miss waking up and moving on, not knowing what the day will bring. I will miss my Aussie friend… how odd that she has been my companion and confidant for a thousand kilometres and in a few days she will be half a planet away.
I have cried today in the rain. I want to go home but I don’t want to leave. I cried too when I saw the sign… coming back from the supermarket… just as on the Frances two years ago… a rusty old sign… pointing left… Santiago 20km… a days walk away from the end.
And so we called Señora… we’re at the church. Senor picked us up just before the rain started. We’ve washed and done our chores… one last time… because today is the eve of the end.