DAY 27, June 29th, 2014. Triacastela – Portomarín, 40.9 km
Today we are doubling the distance: we are going to pass through Sarria (which is where we actually wanted to arrive yesterday) and end in Portomarín. I am walking 40 km and I am ready for it.
I finally understand now, 27 days after the beginning of my thru hike, how most of my travel companions have always felt, actually enjoying the walk. I realize now what walking pain free means.
I am now enjoying the physical part of the Camino as well, not having to pop out a new blister every day, nor having to depend on a knee brace, a stick and a good dose of painkillers to be able to walk.
Galicia is truly breathtaking. Everything is so green and hilly that I just feel like dropping my backpack and go rolling down the hills.
As usual I ended up behind my friends, taking my time to take pictures and just enjoying seeing cows eating the grass.
This is how I met Miriam from Brazil. I accompanied her until Sarria, and the conversation was worth slowing down a bit. We spoke Portuguese, then English, then Portuguese again.
Miriam teaches Linguistics in Brazil, but before she was living in the USA for a long time. She left the States and went back to Brazil to get married and start a family with her husband, who is now walking the Camino with her.
When I told her about my Master’s Degree in Translation for Dubbing and Subtitling, she told me that when she was 20 she used to dub porn movies in English and Portuguese.
But the fun part was that she said so in front of her 15-year-old son who had no idea of the “peculiar” job his mother used to do!
I said goodbye to this amazing woman in front of the Oficina de Turismo de Sarria, where my friends were waiting for me. I had been warned before that from Sarrià the Camino would be filled with turigrinos, and that the experience would change quite a lot.
Sarria is a town 108 km from Santiago. The minimum distance you have to cover in order to get the Compostelana -the official document stating that you have walked the historical Way of Saint James- is 100 km on foot or by horse, while it is 200 km if you’re riding a bike.
From Sarria on, we need to get two stamps a day from two different places in order to prove that we are actually walking the whole way and not cheating by catching a bus or a car ride – which I find quite nonsense, let alone annoying, but well…
Once we arrived in the city center, we met Nora, and it was great to see her again! Both her foot and ankle are still quite swollen, but it looks like she can walk.
We all ate together sitting at a long wooden table, sharing pulpo a feira and chipirones, and then we went back on walking.
I walked slower to keep Nora’s pace (which was quite a first, considering her long legs), and we caught up on what had happened since we last saw each other.
We talked a lot about our lives, too. I realize that Nora and I are two completely different persons. She’s 10 years older than me, but age has nothing to do with it.
The main difference between us is religion. God has been and is a constant in her life, but she’s very open minded and not at all judgmental. Despite the religion, we think pretty much alike and have great conversations every time.
We talked for a while, until I had to slow down (yes, me, not her with her swollen ankle) and ended up the last (was I missing that?).
I walked completely alone for a good while, until José caught up with me and we continued together.
He asked me which one was the most emotional moment of my Camino, and I told him about Burgos. His moment was the big way up to O Cebreiro.
José told me that he used to be a heavy smoker, and that one day he risked a heart attack. His doctor told him that one more cigarette could cause him death, and so he quit. After getting surgery, he really insisted on walking the Camino again. He had done it by bike a few years earlier, and was now eager to repeat the experience, on foot.
So when his doctor agreed, he didn’t have any second thought, and here he is.
José, who will turn 60 in a couple of months, has been walking with us for a few days now, and he loves it. He says we make him feel young and strong as he manages to keep up with us who are in our 20s or 30s.
Then he said something to me that the French Roger had already told me the night of Nora’s birthday. He told me how incredible it was to look at us, 10 people from 8 different countries, aged 18 to 38.
Like Roger, he also told me that looking at us he could see hope for the future, hope for a better world.
We made our entrance in Portomarín after crossing the lake José had been telling us about. The town’s little houses were reflected in the crystal clear waters of the lake and the bridge led us just in front of the albergue our Spanish friend had booked us for the night.
He knew from his experience that after Sarria it is better to reserve your bed in advance, and so he did. And glad he did, because we arrived past 9 PM!
I asked a group of fluorescent teenagers wearing shining shoes and nail polish: First day? It was.
I was not expecting all the make up and gel nails, but above all I was not expecting to find suitcases in the dorm! What happened to good, old backpacks?
The alberguera gave us a few frozen pizzas and we helped ourselves with some beers from the vending machine, then made our way through the suitcases and joined the turigrinos in the dorm.
DAY 28, June 30th, 2014. Portomarín – Palas del Rei, 25 km
The restrooms are getting filled with turigrinas armed with mascara and hair straightener. I literally have to queue to brush my teeth! This is really a first.
After a delicious breakfast (Colacao and homemade cake) in a bar in the center, we started to walk. But the mood is not up: it seems to me that I’m walking to the Mall, not to Santiago!
The path is packed with people: kids screaming and women gossiping about friends back home… The landscape is not the best either, so it is not helping.
Whenever I find a bar, it is unthinkable to go to the bathroom or ask the bartender to fill my bottle: I’d have to queue for at least 20 minutes, let alone find a quiet spot to pee behind a tree.
Then suddenly, after lunch, the crowds disappeared. I have no idea where they went, but hell that was good news! We spent the rest of the day singing our way to Palas del Rei, and that was fun.
Today it was Houliane’s last day with us. She needs to go back to school in France and decided to keep walking with us until the very last day and then take a bus to Santiago.
Like Nora, she has also chosen to stay with us. She could have walked much faster and made it with her own feet, but she wanted to stay with the group. Again, I don’t know what I would have done, had I been in her shoes. And hopefully I’m not hehe, I wouldn’t change my hiking boots for her Crocs 🙂
Joking aside, I don’t know what I would have done. It is true that the moment comes when what matters the most are the people you are walking with, but the Camino has now become the metaphor for my life, and like I let my group go in Logroño, I would have probably done it now, too.
Houli baked a delicious quiche lorraine and we spent another lovely evening together, the last one with my Frenchy.