I woke up and little before 6am today and I could hear the wind howling outside. Thinking it wasn’t as bad as it sounds, I poked my head out the front door of Casa Olga and quickly shut it. “I am screwed,” I thought. I was convinced the gale force winds were going to grab hold of my poncho and rip it right off of me.
But, the good news is that it wasn’t raining and at 8am there was just a 30% chance of rain. I sped up my departure and left Casa Olga’s around 7am. By the time I got into town (Olga’s Place is about 1/3 km up a hill from the town) it had started raining so I had to duck into a bar, ordered a cafe con leche and put on my poncho. It felt silly until I went out and saw five people walking toward me all with similar ponchos headed for the Camino. I stepped in behind them and off we went.
There were two options today. The northern variant involved a 300 meter hill, but was shorter and through the woodland. That is the route I took and so I missed seeing the famous Benedictine Monastery in Samos but also avoided walking on the road and saved almost 7km. When it is raining, shorter is better. Actually, usually, for me, shorter is better.
With the steady downpour, I only took a few pictures.
Shortly before noon I caught sight of Sarria and was checked into my pension by 12:30.
After stripping off my soaking wet clothing (the poncho is basically like a heavy-duty plastic garbage bag so rain doesn’t get in, but sweat doesn’t get out) and took a shower and then headed out in search of a big bowl of pasta which I was craving.
I have learned to be wary of spaghetti and sauce in Spain since I ordered some early on my Camino last year and got what seemed to me to be pasta (good) sauced with ketchup (bad). So, I don’t typically order this comfort food on the Way. But I looked up an Italian restaurant and hoped they could do the pasta justice.
It turns out they did and it was exactly what I wanted. The problem is that I once again ordered salad to go with my main course and barely touched it. Just plain stupid of me this time. Next time I must wait to order the salad until AFTER I finish my main course. Chances are, I will not need it.
That spaghetti was sooooooo good.
I was surprised to see Rosevitha from Germany sitting in the restaurant. She had bad news. The crown she had glued on a few days ago in Ponferrada had fallen off again and so she has to go to another dentist tomorrow morning and have it reglued. She is such a positive person, but seemed very down when I saw her. I hope she can get the tooth fixed for good and finish out her Camino without any more problems.
She was talking with a couple from San Francisco who are biking the Camino. They had left from O Cebreiro this morning in the rain which they said was pelting and cold. In Triacastella, where I was last night, they stumbled into a bar on the verge of hypothermia and the people wrapped the woman up in blankets until she warmed up. Soon they were back on their way and had stopped in Sarria for lunch and left before 3pm to finish up the day’s ride with another 22 kilometers to Portomarín.
Talking with bikers, I have learned that most do about 3 walking stages a day. This couple said they aim for about 75km, but that depends on the challenge level of the ride. They do a lot of riding in the US and they said when the guide book for biking the Camino says something is going to be steep, it really is. They had left Leon three days ago, I left Leon 9 days ago on Friday, October 4th.
Where I am staying is just at the beginning of town which is great at the end of the day, but in a larger city as Sarria is, it means a longer walk in the morning just to get out of town. The restaurant I went to is right on the Camino in the historic center of Sarria so I got to pre-walk what I will be doing in the morning. There was some nice artwork along the route.
I was cash poor and needed to find an ATM which I reasoned should be easy to do in a larger city, but it wasn’t. My hunt took me off the Camino path and into a more commercial area of the town. While the street was closed off allowing only pedestrian traffic, there were hardly any people there. Couple that with the rain and absolutely no shops open and it gave me a creepy feeling about Sarria. This is probably an unfair judgement given the weather and the fact that it is the Sunday of a holiday weekend. But I don’t feel the need to come back here any time soon.
John and Ann from British Columbia who I first saw touring the Cathedral in Astorga, are staying at the same place I am at tonight. They reported that the Monastery here in Sarria was beautiful and an interesting place to see, but I was already back at the Pension and didn’t want to wander across town again as I am trying to reduce the extra kilometers on my feet.
With the humidity nothing was drying out. The last thing I want to do is put on wet clothes tomorrow morning. Lucky for me, this pension has towel warming racks AND blow dryers! Both worked great and are enabling me to go to sleep knowing I will at least start the day dry in the morning tomorrow.
As I write this the rains is pounding down outside. I feel so confident with many of the challenges I have encountered on the Camino because I had similar situations in my training at home. Whether it is a high climb, a steep downhill or a long hot day, I know what to expect from all of them. But I hadn’t had opportunities to train in the rain; they simply didn’t present themselves during my early morning walks. I put on my poncho once or twice when it was drizzling, but never really got to road test my rain gear.
So, I find the rain a little scary. Everything is obviously more slippery, so I have to be extra careful and go slower. That means a longer day. And with the rain, I can’t take the pictures I usually would snap so I am a little bummed that I might be missing some scenes that could be beautiful subjects to paint.
Bottom line, the rain is a bit of a downer. But it wasn’t really so bad today. At least it hasn’t been cold also. I won’t go so far as to say it was a pleasant walk today, but it was ok. And, I know that tomorrow, with the forecast for a 90% chance of rain every hour until it turns to 100% chance of rain at 4pm will be ok as well.