Monday, 11 July 2016

Camino Frances Day 10

The albergue I stayed had probably defective heaters (or they turned it off) because it was a bit chilly in the evening. Fortunately I was located toward the far end of the room so it was a bit bearable. My legs got sore again and Jeff was kind enough to give some ointment to apply.

While preparing my stuff that morning I chatted with Teresa, a middle-aged lady who also stayed in the albergue for the night. She reminded me of Laura Dern in Jurassic Park. Her brisk movements belied her age. We were the last two folks in albergue. She decided to stick around a little as she wanted to do some yoga.

I actually thought I had a great morning start. Wanting to end the day early, my pace was faster than usual- the full dinner and a good sleep had me recharged. The close call I had from the night before was now but a distant memory.

Because of my excitement to get on with my day, tragically I actually took the wrong route. I only realised that something wasn't right when after about 2 kilometres I still haven't noticed a single yellow sign or arrow. At that point that my gut feel kicked in. So I had to backtrack. I detested the fact that I lost some precious time and effort. It did not help that my leftmost toe was getting sore and I was developing a blister on my right sole. It was stupid of me to take the wrong route but in my defence I came to the albergue at night and I didn't realize that it was actually located away at a forked road away from the regular pilgrim path.

Regretfully I could not recall much of the walk in the morning because I tried to limit the number of shots I took along the way. I didn't want to run out of battery during sundown just when I needed light in the darkness.

I noticed along the way that some pilgrims left mementos of their dear departed ones behind. Presumably they dedicated their journey to their loved ones. I offered a prayer to my Dad. It now seemed ages since he departed. Although it seemed that I would occasionally feel his presence, like he was just from another town that I could easily reach with a phone call or a text message.

Through the course of my walk I have offered my rosary prayers to my dad, my family, myself and some friends who have shared their petitions to me through instagram. I found that praying the rosary (aside from being a form of petition) can make the travel time much faster. A round of rosary completing its mysteries can take me about 15 minutes or a kilometre walk more or less.

The previous three days had been quite cloudy so I was finally glad to see the sun shine again.

Pilgrim philosophy still abound. This was one of the few ones I had taken for the day.

The walk from Ferreiros, Lugo to Portomarin was rather boring. There weren't many pilgrim-friendly stops along the way. Which was why I was quite thankful to the owner of this place. He built a shed of sorts adjacent to his house. A note was posted " Feel free to use this space, but keep it clean so that the next pilgrim could also enjoy it".

I recall staying in the shed a bit longer because I had to massage my feet. I couldn't recall if I stopped for coffee along this route because I couldn't find a single photo in my camera. Most likely I just took my coffee in the albergue.

I must admit that at this part of the walk, my passion has wavered. I wanted the walk to be over and move on with my life. Why did I embark on this journey? The answer seemed to be crystal clear at the start of the walk. But at this point the harsh realities of the situation has muddled whatever sense of inspiration I’ve had. Admitted I was not in the proper mood for contemplation. This graffiti I saw scribbled on a gray rock wall reminded me to enjoy every bit of the journey despite the pain.

The town of Portomarin was a sight to behold. It appeared to be a island surrounded by a river, although it only created that impression because the body water somewhat snaked around the landmass. I could just imagine the military advantage it had during the times of war in the past. A steep stairway welcomed me as I entered the town. Despite my tiredness I ascended as if to pay homage. I settled in a nearby park after buying some stuff in the supermarket. Watching the view of the river and the town on the other side, I enjoyed my humble lunch- the usual pan and salchichon. I decided to withdraw additional money so I asked for the nearest bank. If not for the Banco Santander which reminded me of my bank in my University in Murcia I would have felt that I was in a different country.

The church of Portomarin looked like a fortress. Its architecture I would learn later on is of Roman influence. It had a simple rose window and and intricate archway, typical of the churches in Spain. I would gladly go back to Portomarin and spend more time exploring the city if given another chance in the future.

I continued on and took another bridge on the way out. In hindsight I should have brought more items in the supermarket because the next stretch was actually 8 kilometres long without any shops along the way. I was actually getting thirsty and madly looking for water source when I bumped upon two pilgrims who were taking a rest perhaps longer than usual. I envied them because they were not pressed by some deadline. For me my deadliest deadline was actually the 14th because I was set to fly out of Madrid on the 15th. I still had a lot of buffer actually but still I wanted to be back to Madrid early. When the pair learned that I was thirsty for the past 2 kilometres they offered water from their bottles. The lady (I believe she's Dutch) offered a blister strip noticing the way I hobbled.

I thanked them and continued on. Every time I stepped with my right foot, I grimaced in pain. The blister was getting unbearable and another one was actually developing on my left sole.

Further on I came finally upon a shop. Two Asian folks came by and they reminded me that they were the ones who took my photo with the colourful field on the background several days back. I knew I just had to have a selfie with them. Regretfully I never got their fb profiles so that was the last time I saw of them.

I had a chat with the bar tender. As I was in my philosophical mood I threw the question to her as to why people had to suffer and do the walk. Her response was the one I was expecting. Nonetheless it felt validating hearing from her.

I asked if she ever did the Camino. "No I haven't" was her somber reply. I could see a tinge of envy in her eyes. All her life she probably just watched the pilgrims stop by at her bar and move on towards their desired destination. "Maybe someday if I find the reason to do the walk, I will", she added with a sense of hope.

I do hope that she would get her reason - be it physical, emotional, spiritual or cultural. Aside from the bar tender in Foncebadon, she would be one of the bar tenders I distinctly recall.

According to the Camino Pilgrim app there should have been a restaurant at Goznar which was the next major stop after PortoMarin, but it was closed.

I tried my luck at Hospital da Cruz which was 3.8 kilometres further. Only the albergue was open and no restaurant was available. As it was already half past 4, I decided to just check in. (There was no one in the albergue at the time I came in so I just helped myself and sent an SMS to the number indicated on the cork board).

Because of the incident the day before I now applied the 4 by 4 rule which was to check in the nearest albergue within 4 kilometre radius by 4 pm.

The two pilgrims who offered me water, checked in that afternoon. They haven't had any good meal since all the restaurants were closed along the way. It was an opportunity for me to repay their kindness. Though I only had a half bar of bread, a handful of salchichons and two apples, it was enough to assuage our hunger for the night.

Teresa the lady from the albergue in Fererreios came in around 8pm. She narrated how she got lost in the dark. It was a good thing a farmer spotted her and brought her to the albergue. I shuddered at the thought of getting lost in the darkness.

Admittedly it had been a relatively tough day for me. Although I was bit hopeful to end the journey on a high note since I only had a little over 80 kilometres left to walk.

Little did I know that the pain brought about by my blister that day was just a preview of the suffering I still had to endure. 

1 comment:

  1. SMH. Can't imagine doing this myself. Marami pa palang kwento. :-)