The road out of Portomarin is a typical “lung buster”. A rather comfortable decent for 10 minutes on roadway immediately followed by 45 minutes of a dirt and rock steep ascent. First thing in the morning….really? This is no way to meet the new day in my mind. When we started out the door of the albergue the temperature was brisk. My plan was to wear 3 layers, and gradually remove layers as needed. (t-shirt, sweater, rain shell) I was quite comfortable as we began. Climbing up this hill I immediately stripping down to my t-shirt, I’m already sweating buckets. My progress is slower than Susan and Bene. They appear to be unaffected by this early morning challenge and they motor on ahead.
The trail levels out and I am starting to feel better. The sun is just rising now and there are breaks in the cloud cover. Nice day!
Yesterday we arrived in town just as the rain started. Great timing had saved us a lot of discomfort. The sky today doesn’t look too bad but there are some ominous looking clouds in the area. I’m sure we all hope this holds off.
Within 20 minutes I am shuffling to get my rain gear on. This requires me to take my pack off, pull out my poncho, put the pack back on, then the poncho goes on top of everything. Thankfully I had worn my rain pants as a thermal layer on my legs. After about 15 minutes of drizzle the real rain began. We throughly 6.5 km to go before any services are available. ( bar, restaurant, toilet….) There noticeably more people on the trail since Sarria and the “New Kids” look so fresh compared to the “Old Timers.”
The last time I had used my poncho we had been walking through farmland. Apparently the smell of manure was faithfully preserved in my tightly packaged poncho. When I put it on the “bouquet” was released….I hope the rain washes this off. For the time being I am walking alone…. coincidence?
The rain obliged my need to flush my poncho of the scent, and then some. We were walking through a downpour. The trail was now a gradual and consistent uphill slope. This was easy to appreciate because of the stream of water flowing toward us under foot. When the rain is this heavy I have to remove my glasses…..they are steamed up, covered with rain, and simply useless.
It was a couple of hours before I came to a roadside rest stop. The proprietor was all business. Don’t ask questions, just tell me what you want. The rain was getting heavier and very few pilgrims were passing this opportunity by. Soon the small shop and tarpaulin covered annex were jammed with people. Oddly I don’t remember anyone complaining. I caught up with Susan just as we came to the roadside stop. Bene had fallen behind fiddling with her rain gear and pack, but soon joined us as well.
Hot chocolate, cafe con leche, bananas, yogurt,….we were ordering it all, watching the rain all the time. After almost an hour it was apparent, the rain was here to stay. Sean and Maria came in so we gave them our table and we squeezed through the crowded annex tent to our packs. Everything back on, and we were again into it.
We have less than 75km to Santiago. The way is predictable at this point….or so it appears. The common wisdom is to arrive in Santiago City before 11 am and go straight to the cathedral for the morning mass. This is the mass where the monks swing the big incense burner. (The word is this is only performed on special occasions, or if you give a 400 Euro donation. I am thinking the pot won’t be swinging)
In order to arrive on the morning the 23rd we will need to adjust our walking schedule. We are passing through a historic area this point. According to Susan and Bene this area was one of the places Charlemagne camped when purdging the area of the Moors.
In this deluge of rain it seems an excellent reason to hold up in Ligonde. If it was good enough for…….
The area appears to have the same services as it did when Charlemagne held up here. No internet, phone (or almost no phone) and only one place to eat. The Albergue on the other hand, although cramped, was modern and very clean.
A short time later Tomas, Ann, Steve, Maria and Sean come in. Tomas and Ann are suffering seriously but are continuing to walk. Today’s shorter distance suits their needs as well.
While we sit, chat, and have bowl of soup in the lone bar, while the rain continues to fall.
Of course a couple of hours after we check in, we get laundry going, and start to relax, the rain stops.
Perhaps we really were supposed to stop here for the night after all……
We wonder where all of our extended Camino family is at this point? Mark and Zeb are within a couple of days. Kate, Pete, Tom, and Pat are somewhere within a couple of days of us as well. Angela, Tim, Ian? So many people have gone home, completely gone ahead, or have fallen back…..
If you read this and it is at all possible…… we are walking into Santiago around 11 am on October 23rd.
Let us know where you are……