I was so excited to start the day again with a hearty breakfast! The pension where I stayed had limited breakfast options and while I appreciated their efforts, I was looking for more protein than was on their buffet. So, I packed up and headed out and stopped at the first bar that was open. No cafe con leche! Because no aqua!! I gathered from the upset bar owner that something had happened to the town water system and there was simply no water in town.
I headed further out of town and went into another restaurant and I think I got the last cup of coffee to be had in Portomarín. Ken and Theresa were there and Ken said water was pouring down the road as they exited town. Perhaps it was a water main break?
Whatever the problem, it was clear I wouldn’t be getting my much craved for bacon and eggs. I settled for a sugar high with a pain au chocolate and was on my way motivated to get to the first cafe about 8 kilometers (about 2 hours for me at my roughly 4 kilometer an hours pace) away.
I was one of HUNDREDS leaving Portomarín this morning. I am not super-loving the influx of new pilgrims from Sarria. On top of that there was a group of what I assume were Spanish high school students that numbered 50 or 60. They travelled in packs and spread across the entire path. So, it was hard to pass them and if they were passing they completely enveloped you and then spit you out the back of their pack and continued joyously moving forward.
I appreciated youth and their boundless energy and the hope they give me for the future. And, I think it is awesome that these kids are walking the Camino. I guess I am just being a little NIMBYish about their infiltration of the Camino today. I feel the same about the hoards of pilgrims who have joined the Camino in Sarria. They haven’t been enculturated to the ways of the Way. Few say Buen Camino when passing. It feels impersonal and more like I am walking down the street in New York City than on the Camino in Spain.
But, I had a second cup of coffee I was looking forward to and perhaps even bacon and eggs so Ultreia!
The first cafe was packed with pilgrims and kids and bus loads of people (3 big tours buses to be exact including the Magic bus). I didn’t want to spend an hour waiting to be served to I walked on. The next bar I stopped at another 4km away wasn’t packed but the one person working there was very slow and it was going to waste too much time so I forged ahead. But, I was getting hungry so I decided I would tap my emergency food supply.
A half of an RX Bar did the trick and I was energized and forged ahead. I finally stopped at a bar just before noon where I was at least able to get a cup of coffee. But it took a while and the one woman working there was tired and not so nice.
I wish I was able to keep up my sub-12-minute/kilometer pace that I maintained during my training walks, but I have slowed down. I am walking at about 4km/hour and that makes for a long day when walking 25 kilometers. Lots of people pass me and that is demoralizing. But in fairness to me, most of them aren’t carrying their gear. In fact, I would say at this point only about 20% of people are carrying packs. The rest have small, light backpacks and ship their luggage ahead each day.
There are several companies that transport luggage including the Spanish postal service, Corrios. These little backpack transporting vans travel up and down the Way throughout the day picking up and dropping off bags. I will admit to sending my day pack ahead on a couple of heavy rain days stuffed with my sleeping bad, sandals and clothing I wanted to keep dry as a way to lighten my load.
By mid afternoon I want tired and hungry and stopped at an outside table at a bar to figure out how much linger I had to walk. A server came out and asked my what I wanted. I was shocked and encouraged and ordered a cafe con leche and a piece of fresh cheese and membrello. As I started to eat it began drizzling and the waitress suggested I go inside and she carry the food in for me. What a different experience than earlier in the day!
This snack hit the spot! The bar was warm and inviting and I got out of the rain during the only drizzle of the day! Shirley came in and joined me. She was the first person I saw since morning who I recognized. We walked the rest of the way into Palas de Rei together.
Shirley and I high-fived when we saw town. It felt like a really long day to both of us.
I chose a different overnight experience for Palas de Rei. I booked a room at a country Pensión Rural. I was instructed to call them when I arrived and they would pick me up. That worked like a charm and in less than 15 minutes I was at a beautiful estate in the countryside. It is owned by 30-something Abdul from Saudi Arabia who left his tech job with Accenture to start this business with his uncle in Spain. They have restored this property and turned it into a luxury resort. It has an exercise room, that I will not be using! It also has a theater room complete with reclining seats. I won’t be using that either. But I did have a wonderful dinner and a HUGE room with a giant bathroom and deep bathtub. I drew a hot bath and luxuriated before dinner.
Dinner was a carb-fest that ended with a crepe-like thing stuffed with Nutella and rolled and baked. It was a delicious meal and I was happy with my decision to upgrade my overnight stay at this point on the Camino.
I will be paying for this indulgence tomorrow when I stay at a €10 dorm, but I thought the balance would be important. I have two more longer days ahead of me and the forecast isn’t looking good. But, it is what it is. Just three more days to go!