Brian had another sleepless night unfortunately. The locals partied until 4am and with the windows closed, our room was too hot. Vegemite’s room was on the inside of the house so he didn’t hear anything. I just had more crazy dreams with the screaming seeping into my thoughts.
In the morning, Brian wanted to eat whatever was in the kitchen of our Airbnb, but while the owner had lots of goodies, I really wanted to order at a restaurant. I looked on google maps and there were 2 cafes in town on the Camino said to be open.
We all squeezed into the tiny elevator and prayed with our packs, we weren’t too heavy. I felt so bad when we passed both cafes and they weren’t open. This meant we were going to walk 6 miles up hill on no food. poor Brian already had a splitting headache.
As we walked out of town it was pitch black and pouring rain. I pulled out my headlamp so I could see the deep puddles and although it worked fine when I tested the light before I packed it, it was so dull, it barely lit my way at all. The guys were walking well ahead of me and although Brian would occasionally look back at me so I could see the ground, I still soaked my shoes and socks within the first mile. Plus, there were two water crossings where we did not have a choice but to soak our shoes so after a while, it didn’t even matter. Soaked feet would be our reality for the entire day.
It was a 6 mile climb to the first stop and I thought it would be awful with no food but it wasn’t that bad. When we arrived at the cafe, there were only a couple of pilgrims. Apparently, we left town earlier than a lot of folks. I ordered a chocolate covered croissant which was absolutely perfect, a huge mug of coffee which is the first time I’ve seen available on the Camino (usually you get a tiny cup with maybe 4 ounces), and peach juice. The guys each ordered massive Spanish sandwiches with their coffee and espresso. When we were done, we were tempted to order more. All I want to do is eat anymore. I’m always hungry. We met a great trail family from the Pacific Northwest and Illinois who were a lot of fun to hang out with. No one was in any hurry to go back out in the rain and we found a cozy spot in what became a very busy cafe. So we sat and talked for over an hour. After, Brian and I joked that those are our kind of people. They were like “we’re here for the chocolate churros and we take taxes.” Eventually, we knew we had to keep going.
As we embarked on our second half of today’s journey, we encountered many pilgrims on bicycles. The first time they passed us, they hit their brakes so their bikes wound squeal and we would know they were coming. They were coming down a steep hill on a small Street and there wasn’t much time for room for us to get out of the way. Shortly there after, a rooster crowed right next to us. I busted up laughing because Vegemite must have thought it was a bicycle. He whipped around, looking behind him with a look of sheer panic on his face. Of course I knew it was a rooster and I could not stop laughing because it looked like the rooster scared the crap out of him. We all laughed pretty hard.
Today’s hike was actually quite beautiful. We walked through small towns with Spanish cottages and everyone seemed to have their own small vineyard. So beautiful. I just wish it wasn’t pouring rain all the time.
Vegemite can’t pull his phone out anymore because he does not have an umbrella and his phone is soaked through and was not working anymore. Cannot express how great it is to have an umbrella.It’s funny how as you get closer to Santiago, the stops become more frequent. It also happens to be when you become more conditioned and you are in less need of a rest. We passed multiple stops in the late morning but none of us felt like stopping. It’s kind of unfortunate that this is such a short hike because I now feel really great with regard to my physical condition. Can you believe that we only have one more day? We will be in Santiago tomorrow!
There was so much mud today! And I never adjusted to it. Walking through puddles of water is one thing but it is the worst feeling in the world when you are ankle deep in the mud and you know you’re going to carry it in your shoe for the rest of the day. So much mud. The guys were entertained by now I responded to it so whenever they walked through a particularly muddy section, they would stop and wait to watch me go through it.
We stopped again with about 3 miles to go. The place served pasta bolognese and we all ordered some. It came with a glass of wine and bread. It was Devine! The place was packed with pilgrims but we walked to the far end of the building and outside under an awning, there was plenty of space and no pilgrims. We were sitting pretty all soaked and cold but with our hot coffee and pasta. It felt like magic. The guys had the brilliant idea of hollowing out the bread and stuffing it with the pasta. It was a true carb fest. I was ok with that though because as I sat and stuffed my face, I could see the big climb we had in front of us.
I wasn’t able to finish all my pasta and the guys were staring at me like vaulters just waiting for me to sit back from my bowl. The second I said I was done they tore into what was left.
I felt really great for the last section of our hike. I feel conditioned now, the pain is manageable and despite the continuous rain, I really enjoyed today. It’s a shame now that I feel so good, I only have a day left of hiking. I forgot how amazing you feel when you’re outside all day and exerting yourself. I forgot the rush of endorphins you experience and how amazing everything becomes! So many people will never get to experience this because it’s so much work to get to this point.
We easily could have walked the rest of the way to town without stopping except I needed a bathroom and unlike the guys, I couldn’t find a place to go on the side of the path. We stopped at a small bar in a town we were passing through and ordered drinks so I could use the bathroom. The young bearded man working there gave us free mini ham and cheese sandwiches and I noticed when we were watching the turmoil in Barcelona playing out on the tv, he changed the channel to something a bit more pleasant. The locals are very different in Spain. Although the bar was full of older man from town, they were all very kind to us, they made room for our large wet packs, they held the door open for us, and they wished us a Buen Camino.
With only about a mile to go, I suddenly had to go to the bathroom again! It was so bad and there was just nowhere to stop so when we crossed under a bridge, I dropped my pack and my umbrella and I had to go right there. There were no pilgrims around fortunately But I was going right out in the open. But hey, when you’ve got to go, you have got to go!
We stopped in the cathedral in Padron when we reached town and saw the rock that apparently dragged Santiago’s body to shore in his large scallop shell. It’s quite a far fetched story.
Our Airbnb was small but what was most notable was the shower. It looked like a time machine complete with lights, a CD player, a timer, and you can make a phone call. But I couldn’t figure out how to turn the water on! Brian came in to help me and we were literally afraid of it. There were so many spouts pointed so aggressively. Finally we called Vegemite in and we all laughed as we tried to figure it out. He said he would attempt it. So brian and I stepped out and listened as he screamed “I found the water!! It’s cold!” Several attempts later by both the guys, they figured it out. I joked that they should write the procedure down so I can replicate it later.
As I rested during our routine siesta before a late dinner, I reflected on how I felt at this time on my last Camino. Tomorrow, we have a 25 kilometer hike with a steep climb into Santiago de Compostela. I would love to cut that day in half 1) so I can enjoy this trail for one more day and 2) to cut those 15 miles down to something more reasonable so I don’t have to drag myself across the finish line and late in the day. Unfortunately, we already have hotels and airline tickets booked for our next adventures. Vegemite will head to Berlin and Brian and I to Paris.
But in the meantime, I’m thinking of how different this Camino has been from my last. On the Camino Frances, I had so much anticipation leading up to reaching Santiago. I had hiked for 37 days, experienced a lifetime of lessons, and only had one more day to say goodbye to the greatest adventure of my life. I was also struggling with the news that my grandmother was passing quickly, I was missing my trail family and feuding with my real family. So I was quite torn the night prior to finishing. I also made all new friends and we celebrated hard with sangria. I’d love to do that tonight but we have way too long of a hike tomorrow and too much drinking will wreck me. So tonight will be fairly low key and we’ll be in bed early with plans to start early tomorrow morning.