It was to be a race today. A race against the weather – a thunderstorm was due to start any time from 1pm to 5pm depending which forecast you looked at. A race against people too. There were about sixty or seventy pilgrims in A Fonsagrada last night and we would be competing for 22 beds 25km away. We know that we are by no means the fastest in the pack, and so we had already resigned ourselves to probably going on an extra 8.8km to hopefully nab five of the 34 beds there. We had already heard people talking about taking a taxi if it rained or if they missed out at the first place, and so it really did feel like a race.
For the first couple of hours it looked like the storm was going to come sooner rather than later. Perhaps the mist would never clear and would just turn into storm.
Dropping down the other side we came across our Korean friend and he greeted us like long-lost relatives. He was actually a bit shaken up and seemed relieved to talk: he walked on 1.5km further than us yesterday to the next hamlet and as he approached the albergue witnessed a car versus truck accident. Unfortunately the driver of the car did not survive.
After sitting and chatting we remembered we were meant to be racing. Off we tripped through forests, up and down hills, back into the mist. A particularly stiff climb which slowed us considerably left us in no doubt that the storm which appeared to have been momentarily burnt off by fierce sun would eventually beat us to our destination.
The threat of storm was less daunting than the immediate heat, and a bar lured us in for iceblocks. We sat and enjoyed the moment, but future concerns took hold and we opted to move on. Not before I had bought a wooden spoon though! The bar owner had a selection of wooden objects for sale and I wanted to take home a practical souvenir. Mr Barman then decided my spoon should have a “Camino Primitivo” stamp on it. I didn’t actually want one, but it seemed rude to say so. He got on the phone and there was little I could do. At that moment I happened to look out to the road and saw a man in a wheelchair riding past. Another customer also saw him and called out to Mr Barman and Mr Wheelchairman simultaneously. The latter expertly turned his machine in the gravel and Mr Barman walked outside talking fast and handed him the spoon…..and promised me it would only take five minutes. Five supposedly precious minutes wasted for something I didn’t even want. I needed to get moving.
As Mr Wheelchair disappeared off down the street, Daniel and Johanne from Quebec and Aline from France came over the hill and took their places at the bar. The couple had a room booked at a hotel and so were in no hurry. Aline, without a reservation, wanted to get to O Cadavo with an urgency the Canadians did not share. She had fallen earlier today and was a bit shaken, so she asked to walk with us. Mr Spoon-Maker returned with the stamped object…..
….and we set off.
While Aline was in a hurry, her speed in no way matched ours. The kids shot ahead (we had, after all, discussed giving that 5km our best shot and racing to O Cadavo!) and I tried to find that balance between catching them up to explain we’d be slowing down and not leaving Aline behind.
But what about the storm? What about getting beds? We need to go further than her – she’s stopping at the first place.
Yes, yes, yes to all of that. But we sing a song:
We are pilgrims on a journey
We are family on the road
We are here to help each other
Walk the mile and bear the load.
Do we really mean it? Or only when it suits?
So we walked slowly to O Cadavo. When we arrived the American high school teachers were there, Veronika from the Czech Republic was there, the Dutch and English gals were there, a man who followed two days behind us on the San Salvador route was there….and they all told us there were enough beds for us.
Dilemma. Go on so we could have a short day tomorrow and spend time in Lugo, but not be assured of getting a bed tonight, or stop here? The Dutch lass kindly pointed out that there was no water and lots of fungus on the walls. One of the American teachers pointed out the bunks were close together and he already had the end one so there were no good ones left. The others said we could cook together and pointed out it was hot and we should not be walking in that heat.
So we, of course, walked on.
It was hot. The first thunderclap sounded. And we ran out of water. After six kilometres there was a village and we were all set to ask anyone we could see for agua potable por favor, but it was clearly siesta time and everyone was fast asleep indoors. Eventually we spotted an elderly couple arranging seats in their garden and closing the gate to their home, so Tessa flew ahead to squeeze in a Spanish question before the gate clicked shut.
And so we found ourselves talking with a Spanish family who work for Oxfam England and will soon be back in the Congo. Our common interest of fresh safe drinking water and the two little eight-year-old girls from each family provided points of connection. And they filled our bottles and gave us chocolate, too!
After another kilometre we were at the albergue, the first dormitory was full but we got the first beds in the second, and half an hour later the storm broke.
You wouldn’t read about it!
Cumulative Distance: 1,089/789km
211km to go for the girls