Day 34, Thursday, May 16: Negreira to Lago (28.8 km, 17.9 miles)

Today’s mini-miracles

Shall we count them?

  • It (almost) didn’t rain, and if you had seen the “mist in the mountains” and the low, gray clouds, you would have been, like me, expecting a downpour any minute. Then this: once I arrived at the night’s albergue, and before I had both shoes off, it began to rain. (Any chance I might ask for a repeat tomorrow morning? The forecast looks like today’s and suggests that an umbrella would be useful….)
  • I didn’t sleep well last night, walked almost 18 miles today, during which time I climbed 225 floors… and I’m still awake to tell about it (but admittedly pretty droopy; I’m trying to stay awake for a 7:00 pm dinner, and then all bets are off as to my finishing this post)

Sweet things about today

  • Maybe I should mention first how I started the day with a couple of things I purchased from the grocery store yesterday: a gooey sweet roll and strawberry yogurt to which I kept adding fresh blueberries as room became available for them in the yogurt container…. That got me the first 10 miles down the road
  • I can’t speak highly enough about choosing “alternative” routes, those roads less traveled.  And why less traveled?  Because a) people don’t study the signs and so don’t know what they are about to miss; b) people don’t want any added hills or added mileage; c) maybe people are afraid of getting lost (it’s true: the alternatives are not always as well marked.) But oh! Oh! I took two optional/alternate routes this morning. The first was 3.75 kilometers; according to the sign, it added maybe .5 of a kilometer to the regular route and would take about 20 minutes longer. But oh! It went along a river, a “busy” river with water rushing over rocks and mini-falls which were not very high but extremely wide. Beautiful! I never saw anyone else during my almost 4 kilometers along that section even though I stopped to take quite a few photos. The sign for the second alternative route (only 3 miles) stated that the standard route and the alternative were about the same length and would take approximately the same time, the major difference being that the alternative would go “through the mountain” and would not involve any asphalt. And still: I saw no one else in front or behind while I walked past farm fields (and yes, up and down quite a few hills). What’s the deal? Why wouIdn’t everyone jump on board to avoid asphalt? I admit: there was a third alternative. I read about it in someone’s guidebook during a morning “coffee break.” I learned that some of the markings had faded or were hard to see, and that only those with a good sense of orientation or time to backtrack as necessary should attempt it. Oh, I wanted to do that one! I really considered it until I arrived at the junction where the two paths separated. Admittedly, I do not have a great sense of direction. Plus it would have meant walking as many as 22 miles before I would come upon an albergue…. or more if I happened to get lost. In the end, I stay on the standard route, skipping that third alternativa.
  • Finally, for the first time on this trip, I have run into a Spanish woman who is traveling alone. (They tend to have these little groups that are hard to “penetrate,” so I really haven’t had any Spanish gal pals. Until now.) Cristina and I are one year apart in age, she being the younger. We know how lucky we are to have bodies and hearts that get into this hiking business and can handle it well. (Knock on wood….) We are retired teachers, like to bike, to take photos, to eat….. She has offered to lead me on a tour of the historic district in Barcelona when I am there (next week already!)
  • I enjoyed a bocadillo picnic while sitting in a grove of trees with Jane from Ontario and Sandra and Cindy from Nashville, TN; and at our dinner table tonight we were Cristina from Spain, Marlene from Germany, and Jeannie from South Korea.
  • Jeannie looked familiar. She reminded me that we were in the same albergue room a little over a week ago, in O Cebreiro. She got out her phone and showed me a photo she took of me and two guys all treating our feet with creams of one sort or another before putting on our hiking socks and heading out for the day. Earlier in the day I approached a young man who appeared to be from Japan. “We’ve met, haven’t we? Help me remember where.” It was Takeshi, one of the three people staying at a church-run hostel the night we danced and sang as one of our own strummed his guitar. Happy meetings!
  • This is sweet, too, and although it happened last night, I had by that time published my post for the day so this was not included. I mentioned Baudilio, a Spaniard, a “poet,” and a very lively character. Charming with the ladies. Even with the little ones. He and Marco and Anna and I were heading out for dinner together last night and Baudillo used all of his charms with a 4-year-old who was walking with her mother. Before long she was holding his hand as she listened to his playful conversation with her. (Marco eventually took the other hand.). We must have walked at least four blocks that way, and that little girl was receiving more personal attention than she had had in a long while, I suspect. So it came time for us to turn off for food, but the little one would not agree to a parting. Baudilio eventually had to pick her up, talk with her softly, give her little kisses, and tell her firmly that it was time to go on with her mama. It makes a cute memory.
  • Tonight’s albergue in the middle of nowhere (Lago, but can it be found on a map?): it is to die for! New and clean and set up perfectly, with a young owner who is as pleasant and accommodating, as friendly and helpful as they come.. She clearly loves what she is doing.. A nice thing to witness

It was a day of flowers and ferns,* of more eucalyptus smells coupled with the smell of rain in the air and the smell of animals. Much more evidence here of field activity (ploughs, furrows, corn up an inch or two), more outbuildings. Also a day of distant vistas. And of roads, ascending and descending, that would give a King’s Island roller coaster a run for its money.

*I learned two new Spanish words today: helechos are “ferns”; babosas are “slugs.”

We are all hoping that by the time we get to the ocean the clouds will do some parting so that we can witness the sun going down into the water at the “end of the world.” Not that many pilgrims are still up at sunset, which is really late around here…. Some folks take only three days to get to Finisterre, but many of us in this or nearby villages will need another two days to get to that last strip of land on the western-most part of Europe (let’s not quibble about it; that’s what Finisterre was thought to be for centuries, so even though that idea is not correct, believing it to be is more than half of it, isn’t it?). Saturday. That gives the weather a few days to turn around. And, regardless, we will reach the land mass and the lighthouse, and it will get dark. That has to count for something, even if we don’t see an orb take a dramatic dive into the water.

Snip snap snout

This tale’s told out

Photos coming if they’re not here yet.