It’s much more fun being miserable together! Last night as we all compared notes and information from guidebooks and text messages we’d just received from people who were a day ahead, a general consensus was reached that the only sensible way to walk today would be on the road. With rain forecast for the whole day (and actually it had set in yesterday afternoon) the warnings about flash floods and visions of struggling through mud put even the stalwarts off the thought of taking the official path. It was also decided there would be safety in numbers and so a general invitation was extended to everyone to set off together soon after 6. We breakfasted – some on leftover chicken rice, some on orange juice and cupcakes, some on dry bread, some on bread and butter, some on rice pudding, some on biscuits. No bacon and eggs or muesli or even toast with marmalade!
The first group set out – we made up half of it….. ….out into the low cloud. No-one knew the rules about pedestrians in tunnels in Spain, but we decided the worst that could happen is that we get picked up and given a ride somewhere warm and dry. Being sodden, this was not a disincentive for any of us. In fact, I suspect some were clinging to the hope that the police car which passed us would soon return with lights and sirens signaling success for us! We had thought the tunnel would offer reprieve from the rain, and it did, but it also funneled a cold head wind from one side of the mountain to the other. We were relieved to step back out into the rain! For a brief moment, just after crossing into the province of Galicia, we glimpsed the beauty that was surely out there, hidden somewhere in the clouds.
Someone – I forget who, and maybe I couldn’t even tell at the time as we were somewhat unidentifiable in our flapping rain gear – either Duarte, a Portuguese guy or Thomas the German, strode up beside me and observed, “Well it’s not as bad as it could be.”
“It’s fine,” I agreed, but he quickly corrected me….”No, not at all. This is not my standard of summer vacationing weather in Spain!” Who’s going to argue with that? It’s warmer at home in the New Zealand winter right now!
We proceeded, mostly in silence, becoming ever colder. Noses, hands and feet were numb. Once again I wished I had packed a fleece vest – but it had seemed an overkill idea in the comfort of home. It’s not like we aren’t prepared – we have thermal long johns and long-sleeved tops as well as a merino shirt and fleece jacket. It’s just we like to keep them snug and dry for wearing after walking. A fleece vest would have been welcome under our rain jackets, a cosy companion to our gloves and scarves.
When we sighted a bar our hearts rejoiced. But the proprietor waved us away. Sigh. And walk on. Thankfully this was not the last one and we stumbled in to a haven of warmth, which our group of ten completely took over for twenty minutes. Slipping back into wet rain gear and out into the steady rain took a resolve we might not have exercised if we had been alone. It really is more fun to be miserable in company!
How does one capture the general misery of walking for five hours in a constant rain without resorting to whinging? I’m trying really hard!
As we approached A Gudina we started thinking about the online reports we had been reading. Bedbugs. Bedbugs. Bedbugs. Our intention was to scope out the place, and if it looked dodgy, to walk on. It would be another 20km, but we’d all decided that would be preferable to bedbugs. However, on the way into the town we all noticed a sign to a train station and a bus station. I wonder if the others were wavering as much as I was! We’ll never know, because when we arrived at the albergue it was closed for fumigation! An alternative was set up nearby. My cynical mind wondered if the bedbugs had simply been transported to this cold concrete building on mattresses from the first one, but we decided to take the risk!