Distance to go: 112.5 Kms
It was quite a warm and muggy night. Neither of us slept that well. The Italian and Argentine gentlemen that were in the room with us did not seem to mind. They were both snoring away contentedly.
We woke to the alarm clock at 6am, dressed and packed our bags and went for breakfast. “Would you like fried eggs, bacon and toast” said the nice waitress in the cafe at the albergue. “No thanks, just tea and toast” said I. It came and it was good. Until I got the bill. €8.50 each. When I explained that we only had a cup of tea and a piece of toast I was told that the breakfast was a standard price no matter what we had. The place lost many points for that. I left what was a lovely place in many respects a little disappointed. Now I know how they afford the swimming pool.
It had been raining overnight and it was not long before we climbed up into mist and light drizzle. The ponchos came out. It was still warm mind you. The walk was another glorious hoof through woodlands and meadows. Some on minor roads and some on earth paths. The air was clean and thick. We could smell the trees and pastures all around us. It was earthy and the odour of cattle was all around. The scenery on this side of the mountains is so much greener that the Meseta or indeed anything we have come through so far. The temperatures are much cooler overall as well as the influence of the Atlantic becomes more apparent.
Tiny hamlets and farmsteads dotted the way again much as they did yesterday. What I have noticed in Galicia is that the locals dont give the warm waves and smiles to pilgrims as we pass. In fact some are quite short or even ignored us entirely. Maybe they see too many pilgrims passing by. However those same pilgrims do spend a lot of money along the way and contribute quite significantly to the local economies. The peoples to the east always said Hola or waved and smiled. Much different here.
By around 9am the rain stopped and the sun tried its very best to pierce the grey blanket of cloud. It failed but its warmth got through.
We stopped at the Cafe Morgade in the hamlet of Morgade for a delicious piece of cake and a big mug of tea for Debbie and a coffee for me. Jimmy, if you read this put this place as a must stop at. It was really good. Many pilgrims swelled the coffers here.
We passed the 100 Kms to go to Santiago marker. We paused beside the insignificant concrete post that has had its plate stolen and some kind soul has scribbled the number 100 upon it for us and parked a wheelie bin beside it. I was disappointed at first when I saw it. This was a highly significant milestone for us. Should there not be more? The I thought no, this is the Camino. I would not have minded if there was nothing at all there. We dont need a concrete post to remind us. We knew already.
We moved on through Ferrerios where an artisan shop by the path sold all sorts of Camino trinkets.The path climbed slowly again to around 650 metres above sea level at Alto Páramo before dropping gently into the hamlet of Mercadoiro where the La Bodeguiña cafe caught our eye. It was hard to miss. Descending through a tunnel of trees on a stony path you suddenly burst out into daylight and there was a large Guiness sign beside the road. We entered. We had more tea. This was another very nice watering hole.
We started the slow descent into the valley in which Portomarín lies. However, just before reaching the bridge which crosses the large reservoir in front of the town we had to descend steeply down a narrow lane. That really gave my left knee a severe tweaking.
We crossed the reservoir and what did we find at journeys end? A flight of stone stairs to climb. Weary legs hoiked a body and backpack up the steps then through the streets of Portomarín to our accommodation. We are staying at El Caminante B+B. We arrived too early. The rooms were not ready. We dumped our packs and went to a local cafe for lunch.
We have showered, rested and are ready for dinner somewhere. I hope we see other pilgrims we know.
Whilst having lunch we noticed that all the stones on the church were numbered. We asked why. In 1967 it was moved from its original site in the valley which was dammed and flooded to make the reservoir. It was rebuilt block by block in its new position.
Now that we are under the 100 Kms to go, Santiago for the first time seems close by. Our Camino is drawing to its close. I am happy and sad at that. I am not too sure how I will feel entering Santiago at this stage. I dont have any travel plans sorted to get us home yet either. It somehow does not seem the right time to organise them yet. I remember all the pilgrims we set out with. I am sure some are already in Santiago having walked faster than we do. I am sure some are behind as well. I would really like to meet some though. I dont know why. It just seems right that we should meet one for time to say look what we did.
Distance walked today: 19.7 Kms