Day 27 - Portomarin

Day 27 – Portomarin

Back on the RoadWe are hoping to put in 30 or so km today and end up in Portomarin.

Today Keith, Morag, Peter, and I set out at bit late at 7 am. We stopped for café con leche and croissants and then started our walk to Sarria. As we were leaving Somos we came across a pilgrim statue. We lined ourselves up around it and a passing pilgrim took our photo for us. Morag and Peter noted that we only had five days to go. That was rather exciting news!

The first 12 km were fairly easy to walk, mostly just grey weather with a spot of rain now and then. Keith moved ahead and I fluctuated between walking on my own and walking with Peter and Morag.

Which reminded me of the time a few days earlier where I had been doggedly walking though grey wet weather, at the edge of a town that I don’t remember the name of, and I felt very much down and tired. Peter and Morag were walking not too far from me and they decided to sit and take a rest. I joined them and try shared some lovely confectionaries with me. It really brightened my day. By this point, it had been raining most of the day and I headed off again.

I arrived at a small town and stopped at the first café & bar after entering town. This has become the agreed upon spot of choice while walking. It gives us a chance to meet throughout the day if our paces are not too far apart.

Keith was waiting for at the counter, café con leche in hand. The café was nice and shiny; very modern compared to many places I’ve been in the past month. It was all glass, dark wood, and metal. It looked more like a place a broker would stop into for his siesta beer than a place for pilgrims. However, the café con leche was good. Peter and Morag arrived which gave me an opportunity to have a second café and a pastry. We relaxed a bit, used the facilities – ooo, automatic faucets – and generally warmed up.

In Sarria I stopped into a farmicia for some more painkillers. When I came back out into the street, I found the group talking to Anne! I had not seen Anne since Burgos and it was wonderful to chat, catch up and exchange hugs. By the time we hit Sarria we were in dire need of more coffee so we each drank another two café con leches. Helps you get through the day.

Pilgrim MuralAlong the inclining streets we followed in Sarria are a series of wonderful murals. I strongly suggest anyone along the trail take a few moments to look them over.

By the time we left Sarria my blisters were starting to become uncomfortable. They had previously healed and the skin hardened, but with the moisture in Galicia (it gets more rainfall than England), the calluses seem to have peeled off. I was back to fresh skin that was just ready to blister.

The last 22 km that afternoon (it was a 40km day) was in the rain, with mud up and down the Galician back roads and cow paths through numerous hamlets that do not even seem to have a name. At one point, the rain had caused an uphill trail to become a small river that was deeper than our ankles. That was a rush.

100 km to Go, Sort Of...We all grouped to gather somewhere along the next part. Walking in the rain and keeping company as we passed the very lovely Galacian countryside. We were on the lookout for cakes in a specific café along today’s route. We were getting tired and it seemed like we had been walking a fair bit and, for me at least, the search for the cakes become a quest unto itself. I knew that the name of the town in question started with an M and that it had a Horreos by the café. We had thought we had reached it when we arrived at Mercado (strange name for a town I thought) and we entered the café had some warm drinks and eat some cake. Nope, it was not the place. The cakes were just barely okay. Oh well. Keith asked how much farther it was to Portomarin and the lady behind the counter said 16km. We were fairly sure she was wrong as we had all miscalculated the distance to Portomarin to be about 25km; so there was no way that after all this walking there was still 16km to go. Well, it turned out we were off on our calculations; it is 36 km from Samos to Portomarin. It was going to be a long day. As we sat there, the heavens opened up for a quick downpour. I waited for it to subside and then I went out to sit on the front bench to tend my feet.
Camino Tip: Do not bandage your feet in a café! I’ve seen it done and it isn’t pretty.

We once again hit the Camino and one we went. The rain came in light waves for the next 4 or 5 km and we finally came across the town of Morgade. There was a pretty, little café. Here we found our cakes! They were very good; I had two if memory serves me. We sat in the bluish light, sipped our café con leche, and suddenly the heavens opened up again. Keith noted that Morag must been in good with someone up high as we had by good fortune to have been inside during each of the heavy rains today. As we sat there amused by the thought, some soggy pilgrims came in and booked a room on the second floor of the café. The rain had gotten to them and they just wanted to be dry. I cannot blame them. The day was wet, rainy, and for us much longer than we had mentally prepared for, and I was a little envious of a dry warm room.

Walking Up the Water HillHowever, off we trudged. Keith and I picked up our pace a bit to stretch our legs and we shortly came across the 100km marker. Now we know that the Camino markers are notoriously inaccurate, but it was a marker and we very happy to have arrived there. We took some photos, with the kind help of fellow pilgrims, and we waited for Peter and Morag who arrive shortly thereafter. Another round of photos!

The rain started to fall again, but not as heavily. The countryside was wet and soaking and many little streams and creeks flowed here and there. We came upon a part of the trail that traveled directly up the side of a hill and the water in the areas was so abundant that it was pouring down the trail. The trail was a on a good 40 degree angle and the water still maintained a good 3-4 inch depth. We tried to use some rocks to keep out of the worst of it, but finally we all gave in a just sloughed up the hill, the water twirling about our ankles. What could we do? We laughed. Felt good too.

At this point Keith moved ahead of us, and I moved a bit ahead of Peter and Morag. I came across a group of women who were very concerned about how to get through a deep pool that was completely covering the trail without getting their shoes wet or dirty. I was a dumbfounded as they stood there and discussed the problem in their near pristine hiking runners… I excused myself to get though the knot of people and just walked through the pool. Feet can only get so wet.

Me on the steps... oh, the steps...We all met again shortly before Portomarin where we all stopped for a bit of rest. We could finally see the town sitting on the riverbank in the distance. We trudged onward, crossed the bridge to town, and then I stood there well and truly exhausted, my blisters on fire, and my knees aching; looking up a stone stairwell of several dozen steps I had to walk up. Sigh. Well, nothing for it, up we went.

We checked into a private albergue (one of the red albergues I think) as it has more resources. I unpacked, showered, did our laundry (the laundry room had a wonderful patio opening with a fantastic view of the river), exchanged some e-mail with Sandy, and relaxed for a while. We went to dinner at the neighbouring private albergue (I’ve never seen two private albergues right beside each other like this) and planned tomorrow. We should reach Santiago in 4 days and we have less than 100 km to go! I’m really very tired now.

I stayed at: Albergue Ferramenteiro.

Soundscape: Bells of Samos in the morning