Day 28 - Triacastela to Portomarin

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Where I stayed
pension Portomino

Flag of Spain  , Galicia,
Friday, October 5, 2012

Kms Walked: 41kms
Kms Walked in Total: 702kms
Kms to Santiago: 88kms

I really thought at this stage that going for breakfast at 8am guaranteed and empty bar, but sadly with the huge influx of Spanish pilgrims its still packed until 9am.

I waited patiently while other pilgrims ordered their coffees and toast or buns, but I noticed that two clever Germans had just arrived and were planning to make a pincer movement to get ahead of me. My Pilgrim wrath waited until the bar man asked for the next client, when they raised their hands and ordered two coffees. "Nein Peregrrrrinooos" I interrupted before ordering my breakfast. Uncomfortable silence followed but at least I got mine first.

Its getting worse as we go along. There are more bars and albergues, but they are all either packed or empty. Usually the first one is the massed one, while no one risks not finding another one later.

I have to admit I took a wee too much time to pack and leave as it was already 9.15am. With 40kms to walk today I had just enough time to do so without bringing the torch out.

Most of the walk today was finally in "the nature", forests, fresh air, birds singing, the rattling of animals in the bushes, and all that usual stuff. This Camino lacks so much of all the basics of good walking, and exceeds itself in the annoying ones.

If anyone had told me from the start: "you are going to walk 790 kilometres, of which 700 are on roads or next to them, and you will struggle to see any nature or wildlife", I for one would not have started. With so many places to walk in the world this one has to qualify as "Disappointment Number One". Having said that I have started I have to finish - who knows I might be enlightened the last day.

Well, just when you are enjoying a great forrest walk, listening to the birds, pumping huge doses of oxygen into the lungs...out of nowhere appears a German couple.
They had stopped to pollute my Camino with their smoke, which annoys but I can get over after a few metres. However, the woman (in her late fifties) was dressed, or undressed if we look at percentage of skin visible versus textile, in a black shirt and athletic shorts.

The shirt was held on by two invisible straps, while her shorts would have been banned by the International Athletics Association for not hiding anything. My whole dream walk along one of the nicest areas of the Camino crashed down viciously. It seems like Santiago and Co. want to make sure that you don't enjoy a single moment along the route - every time you start levitating into happiness...shock, horror!

Although I did not want to stop until lunch, it was unavoidable to stop at "Casa do Franco", and try a true empanada for the first time in Galicia. It was worth it.

As with every moment of pleasure, Santiago balanced it with some annoyance. Three middle aged Spanish women (no rucksacks, no water bottles, no backpack...which will soon become the standard for the locals joining to do the last 100kms).

They were talking as if everyone in the bar needed to hear, and a bit louder just in case. Chatting about how clean the albergues are and how silent (??), and then sharing with everyone how they washed their "bragas" (knickers) in the shower. Again, delicious empanada...dirty bragas!

The sun was as strong or stronger than yesterday, with temperatures getting to 25 degrees celsius. That is great for walking but it does make the 1pm to 5pm part very sticky and stuffy.

So when I reached Sarria, where most people stop for the day, I decided to have a bit of a break before doing the next 22 kilometres. Sarria is a nice little town, although as with all the rest, it will probably be dead silent when the pilgrim exodus is over.

I had a good pasta salad to build up the carbs, a couple of bottles of fizzy water, and a coffee. I chillaxed enormously, but did not time keep very well. I could easily have been sitting in that terrace for over two hours, which meant that I would have to rush the second half of the day.

As with the previous day, these hours are certainly the best as there is no one else walking. I passed a few albergues and realised everyone was just sitting there doing nothing, just waiting for the day to end. Simply a waste of day, and I wish I had changed it before.

There are a few nice forest kilometres, and the path passes small farms where the locals struggled to speak Castilian Spanish (not out of nationalist, but its just the language they were taught).

It was obviously a good couple of days to harvest the corn, as the machines were working away in a frenzy.

And all along, ever since one arrives in Galicia, there is a small stone sign every 500 metres. So with great excitement I started the day at 130 kilometres and was now approaching the psychological marker of 100.

Since the 790 kilometre sign to this one a lot has gone by. Nearly one million steps taken...and what does one get for the effort? A normal marker full of graffiti from hundreds of idiots. No other sign, no champagne bottle, nothing.

From that market onwards one really has to look carefully to find the numbers as its just full of names, dates and phrases like "change the World!" and "Don't give up" or "Marcello we wait for you at Portomarin".

After having a last refreshment, and with 10 kilometres to go and potentially only one hour of sunlight left, I decided it was time to speed up as much as possible. I could always follow the road to Portomarin, but I wanted to be as close as possible to the town before it got dark - and realistically I would have at least 4 kilometres without too much light, looking for the yellow arrows.

I realise it must of looked strange but I basically jogged downhill for about 8 kilometres. I rushed down a steep hill at Ferreira, and at the bottom there was three exhausted pilgrims licking their wounds on the right hand side. On the left there was two farmers enjoying their Friday wines and the waitress of the albergue. The pilgrims looked at me in amazement or disbelief (I didn't quite understand their bodylanguage!). The locals and the waitress laughed and she shouted in Spanish "slowly, go slowly!". As I zoomed, by with my Santiago scallop banging noisily against the backpack, I shouted back "there is no time...its Friday and I have to shower before the discotheque opens"...they laughed back.

It was good that I had reserved a pension as I was well exhausted by the time I walked in (of course the last kilometre had to be a steep uphill!)

It was only 9pm when I had finished my shower and strolled into the main squared. Given it was Friday I had wrongly assumed that everything would be open and noisy until late. However Portomarin seems to live to the Pilgrim Clock, and locals must have dinner at home, as I was lucky to find a place that served me a Pilgrim Menu with ten minutes to go.

When I walked (slowly, very slowly) back to the pension after dinner, I was the only one on the streets.
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