Distance to go: 28 Kms
We had a really good dinner last night at the albergue. Debbie had a salad with croquette potatoes, chicken and rice pudding. I had the salad, fish and calimari and the rice pudding as well. It comes of course with vino tinto and bread. It was really good. All for €10. The food and accommodation on the Camino has been so good and reasonable.
We both slept well despite the neighbours dog barking and woke to the alarm at 7am. The last time we woke that late other than our rest day in León was the day we left St Jean Pied de Port to start the Camino. We are usually up and way by now to beat the mid afternoon sun and heat.
We had a nice breakfast in the albergue before saying farewell to our host, Santiago and his wife and set off at the late hour of 8am.
Today was a day mainly on woodland tracks and paths, some ups and some downs with little trudging on the roads which is wonderful on the knees. Much of the way passed through large stands of eucalyptus trees which I understand were and are being grown for the wood pulp industry. The smell of them again in the early morning air is wonderful. We could have been in the South Island of New Zealand again.
After only a kilometre we passed a small memorial to a pilgrim by the name of Guillermo Watt who died on this spot in 1993 aged 69 only 1 day from his journeys end. You often see little memorials and photos of people that have died left along the Camino in remembrance. We paused for a few minutes and walked on.
We caught up with the American mum and daughter, Ingram and Whitney, that we seem to have been shadowing on and off for the last 3 weeks and took a bit of a tongue in cheek photo of them climbing one of the lesser hills of the day.
First stop of the day and a chance to stamp our pilgrim passports was at the cafe Oceadoiro in O Emplane. We basically sat at a table in a lay-by but it was worth it to be revived by tea. We moved on and passed through a lovely little village called Santa Irene.
I had an Auntie Irene so I thought it would be nice to pay a little visit. It was really lovely. At the entrance to the hamlet was a natural spring where in days of yore pilgrims could wash and bathe. A kind inhabitant had left a basket of plums and apples at her front door for passing pilgrims to help themselves. The plums were rich and juicy. The thought behind the kind present was enriching. We could see the trees in a small orchard in her back garden. This tiny place even had a small albergue for passing pilgrims. It was immaculate.
We moved on and took a detour around the town of O Pedrouzo which did not look inviting. A French lady approached us in some distress having lost her friend, Nicole. She showed us a picture on her camera of her. We had not seen her and could not help. I suggested getting to Santiago and leaving a message with the pilgrims office. I could not do anything more and she said goodbye to us. I did not want to leave her but we had to move on.
3.5 Kms along the Camino we came to the cafe Amenal and we ordered an eggie tortilla stuffed with ham, tomato, cheese and lettuce and of course a cup of tea. As we sat down Debbie pointed out a lady and reckoned it was the French ladies friend. I approached and in my very rusty french asked if she was Nicole. “Oui” she said. I asked whether she had a friend that was missing. She said yes. She had her friends mobile number but no phone. I dug mine out of my backpack and dialled. Success. By the time we had eaten our lunch and drunk our tea the two friends were reunited and very relieved to be so. They hugged us and we left them too it chastising each other for being so stupid. I smiled for quite some time.This Camino really get under your skin.
Cafe Amenal was another excellent stop for right after it is a climb that at the time seemed never ending. It went up and up and up. Half way up my phone buzzed. It was a text from our friends Jimmy and Antoinette wishing us well for our entry into Santiago tomorrow. They went home in Frómista on our day 21 which seems ages ago and will return to finish the rest of the Camino in September. It made me smile again. I showed Debbie. We talked about Jimmy and Antionette as we climbed. Antoinette could have a hot and sweaty day on the Camino. But within an hour of arriving in the albergue she was showered, always wore a dress and always looked as though she had just come in from the garden.
We passed through a small wood of mixed Eucalyptus and pine trees and came across another makeshift pilgrim memorial. These provide some very poignant moments. A few minutes to look at the pictures and read the words reminds us of the losses suffered by others. I find it quite humbling. The first picture speaks for itself. The second one is of an unknown man whose photos we have seen all along the Camino. He was clearly somebody very dear to a pilgrim but I have no idea who he was.
Cresting the hill we could see the runway lights and structures of Santiago airport. The path descended on a gravel road north of the runway and dropped down into the delightful hamlet of San Payo. The cafe Porta de Santiago looked really inviting but with only 2 Kms to go we decided to press on.
We are staying at the Hotel Ruta Jacobean in Lavacolla. It is like a dream coming at us and oozes comfort. Lavacolla is where in days past pilgrims would stand in large tubs of water and wash and purify themselves before heading into the city. Our hotel room had a bath!!! We have not had a bath in over 6 weeks. We did our own washing and purification following the age old tradition. Just in a bit more comfort. Being a modern hotel there is nowhere to wash our clothes. So the bath tub has come in useful and everything is hanging out the windows to dry. No doubt lowering the tone of the place somewhat. One cannot walk in dirty smalls. Most uncomfortable.
We went for a walk around Lavacolla. It is a quiet residential area of Santiago. Back at the hotel we sat on the verandah and facetimed my dad and texted our fellow pilgrims whom we had shared coffee, miles and blisters with. Two were sat in Santiago airport waiting for flights home. They are sitting not 4 Kms from where we were and yet were miles away.
I am really not sure what tomorrow will bring. I have many mixed feelings about it all.
Maybe I am thinking too hard about it all.
Maybe we shall just walk into the city and stand before the cathedral and see what comes.
I will let you know tomorrow.
Distance walked today: 16.6 Kms.