It was another day of rain, but luckily it was fairly warm and it wasn’t windy so the walk wasn’t bad at all. It was on the longer side for me as will be the next two days in order to get into Santiago de Compostela on Friday. Can you believe I said that? I will be at my destination in just four more days!!!
I have been dragging the past few days and after thinking it over, I decided I probably wasn’t getting enough energy from food to fuel my walk. I think I just fell into a bad habit of not eating something before leaving in the morning and then not wanting to take the time to stop and eat along the Way.
After a lifetime of worrying about every calorie I consume, it is so hard to think of food as a good thing and something that I need!
So I started the day with a big breakfast before heading out of Sarria and that seemed to do the trick! I felt much stronger today walking and much happier.
As luck would have it, I stopped in the same bar that John and Ann from British Columbia were at so I sat with them and then in came Rosevitha who was waiting for the dentist to open.
The walk today was beautiful. Much of the scenery made me feel like I was in Ireland, although I have never been there so how would I know??
But, the land was green and rolling and the pastures were divided with old stone walls. Most of the walking was on country roads and dirt paths.
The rain started so I had to put on my poncho and walked in the sweat bag for the rest of the day as it rained off and on; sometimes quite hard.
We walked through probably a dozen villages or so over the course of the day. Some had pilgrim services such as a bar or Alburgue and others seemed more like a sprawling farm than a village with nothing but tractors, a house or two and some animals. But just about every little hamlet had a church.
The “Magic Bus” as I call it that keeps showing up to cart “pilgrims” on tour from one highlight stop to another, appeared a few times today.
The Way was also more crowed with many new pilgrims who started their walks in Sarria, just 115km from Santiago de Compostela. There is a strict rule that pilgrims must walk the last 100 kilometers (or 200 kilometers on bike) in order to receive their Compostela, a certificate awarded to those who walk the way for religious or spiritual reasons. More important than the piece of paper one receives with his or her name on it is the plenary indulgence that comes with it.
Here in Galicia the kilometer markers are annoying. Elsewhere on the Way kilometer markers appear infrequently and it is always exciting to read the distance to Santiago de Compostela; they could be every 7-10 kilometers apart. Here in Galicia sometimes there is less than a 10th of a kilometer between markers, and the distance is displayed to three decimal points!
I have just started ignoring the distance readings on the markers because I find them to be TMI.
But there was one marker I was eager to see today and that is the 100 kilometer marker! I walked with Shirley from New Brunswick most of the day so we took some pictures of each other at that monumental point.
So far on my Camino 2.0 I have walked 406 kilometers by the Camino markers (and more of you add in all the times I have taken the longer alternative paths or gotten lost and had to retrace my steps). That is 252 miles over 20 days!
We went past more beautiful fields and lots of gardens that are mostly put to bed for the winter except for winter squash, pumpkins and kale – so much kale! This is a main ingredient in Caldo Gallego, a delicious soup that is a staple in the Galician diet. It is potato and Kale soup. Humble, filling and soul satisfying.
Look at how they keep their kale plants picked!
It is always great to see a town in the distance at the end of the day and Portomarín was no different.
The structure above is called a horreo. It is used to store grains and keep rodents out. Maybe mice and rats aren’t as smart as they are in the US, but the mice that cleverly get into our house in the winter, could easily scale this thing. We saw many of these in different sizes yesterday and I expect we will be seeing more in the coming days.
Portamarin didn’t give itself up easily there were three challenges to get into the town. The first was the original pilgrim path that now has safer alternatives, but thinking I was choosing one of those easier routes, I brought myself and several others no doubt impressed with my confidence and google mapping skills blindly followed me to a treacherous downhill the one my Buen Camino app says to avoid at all times; especially in the rain!
This path was like a narrow chute with a very uneven and rocky floor. A woman several people ahead of me didn’t have poles and was going down very slowly basically on her butt.
The second of the three challenges was crossing the wide and deep Rio Mino. There was a very long and very high bridge and while I would have loved to have gotten photos from there, I was just plain nervous and didn’t want to do anything other than get to the other side
The final challenge was a huge set of steps to get up and into the main area of the city.
I have guarded my solitude the past several days, but in Portomarín I enjoyed a drink with Theresa and Ken while I was waiting for my clothes to dry. Ken is a tall serious looking guy and Theresa is a petite little firecracker of Asian descent who is always laughing. She walks listening to music from the 60’s and 70’s playing; and not through earbuds. I walked behind her several days ago and just loved her playlist that ranged from disco to Neil Young – my era! They live in Denver and are both retired – they don’t look old enough!
After I rescued my clothes from the dryer including my wool tops that could use a little shrinking, I headed back to the same restaurant where I had the drink with Ken and Theresa. I was plotting to have dinner on my own by sitting at the bar and just as my soup was being I saw John and Ann and joined them at their table. Dinner was pretty good – all home cooked and at the amazing pilgrim meal price of €10.
I really enjoyed the conversation with John and Ann which was wide-ranging. They have three twenty-something kids; all are impressive. John and Ann aren’t the types to brag about their kids so I had to ask a lot of questions about what their kids are doing. They have a daughter who just graduated from law school and is in British Columbia working all kinds of crazy hours at a law firm. Their youngest daughter decided she wanted to work and live in London after she graduated so she got a work VISA and applied for jobs, landing the first she interviewed for. John and Ann will be visiting her after their Camino.
Their son is in a master’s program at the Sorbonne in Paris focused on Consumer Economics. I admit I cringed a bit when I heard the name of the program. I imagined it was something sponsored by Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
But in fact, the focus of the program is very interesting. Each year the program accepts 30 students from around the world. 15 of the students have undergrad degrees in economics and 15 have degrees in psychology (as is the case with John and Ann’s son). The first year the economic major students get intensive training in psychology and the psychology majors get intensive training in economics. You can imagine the students in both cohorts are challenged. In the second year the two groups come together and focus on consumer economics.
I am fascinated with what Consumer Economics is all about. It is about how people make purchase decisions. But it sounds like the focus of the program is on how policies can shape those decisions for public good. So, let’s say you want people to sign up for a government healthcare option. You can require them to complete forms to sign up for it or you can require them to complete forms to opt out of it.
John and Ann referenced the book Nudge as a great example of Consumer Economics. I might download and listen to it on the upcoming long Camiño days.
Despite my self-imposed solitude, I really enjoyed the company of others today. Shirley was a wonderful walking companion. She is such as gracious and caring person. Ken and Theresa are a great team and they are always welcoming when I see them and Theresa is just freakin’ funny. I have come to really like spending time with John and Ann. They are no-nonsense, down to earth people with a core belief system I value. Thanks to all who helped me feel a little more human today!