T minus two

Day 31

Today was a much better day than yesterday.  It’s the last long day of the Camino (the next two days are about 20 km each) and I got out 45 minutes earlier this morning.  Meaning that I beat the hoards.  I saw several of my friends that have shared the long walk from St. Jean and met a few folks I hadn’t met yet.  And there was even a bit of solitude during periods of the hike.

Much of the trail was wooded, with a few villages and towns along the way.  Lots of ups and downs, and crossed a few streams and rivers in the valleys.  Some of the crossings are full Roman bridges (like in Melide) others are just narrow stone structures over the water.  Some flowers – one house had a bunch of rose bushes, another had Calla Lilies gracing the side of the Camino.  A few folks working their gardens, others work8ng their farms.  More crop farming today and only a couple of dairy farms.  

The weather was cold to start – about 5 c – but warmed up quite a bit once the sun was fully up.  I wasn’t 3 km in before I started to run across friends I’ve met earlier.  Enjoyed a break with a couple more, and saw a few just leaving as I pulled into a lunch spot in Melide.  Amazing what it’ll do (in a positive sense) to your brain when you see folks that have shared this kind of experience as long as you have.

Mostly sunny and cool today, perfect walking weather.  Warm enough to not need a jacket, and cool enough to not be drenched with sweat.  Pretty much perfect.

I’d call the hike today as a good one.

Ran across my friend from Nashville outside a rear/restaurant in Ribadiso and decided we should stop for a rest before assaulting the final hill into Arzua where we are staying for the night. In the time we were there, we saw several folks we knew.  Another positive thing.

But the folks working the restaurant were busting their tails.  And that’s pretty much been the case everywhere.  The folks that live and work here are not wealthy by any means, but with very few exceptions they clearly care about the Pilgrims and do their best to make things great.  And that’s true all along the (now) 740 km of Camino that I’ve walked.  It is truly the spirit of giving and is part of why the Camino seems like a warm cocoon.  

The pensione I’m staying in tonight is no exception.  It’s not fancy, but they’re done their best to make it great for guests.  It makes last nights pensione look like a Motel 3, or maybe a Motel 2 in comparison.  Plenty of towels, no absurd list of rules, washer and dryer on premises (all the clothes except what I was wearing are completely clean and the stuff I was wearing was clean when I put it on), and plastic cups & bathroom amenities – including toothbrush – in a little bag.  The woman at reception even offered to move the stuff from the washer to the dryer for me (and I gladly accepted).  

She also took the time to show me a map of the local area including which places serve food now, when they close, and the time places open in the morning (some as early as 6 AM).  

These are smaller, mostly private/locally owned, accommodations as the restaurants and bars are likewise local.  And then people care, in part carrying on the tradition of providing refuge and food for the pilgrims.  They not wealthy but very proud.  It’s part of the reason that I’d rather spend money at one of the local places than pickup stuff at the supermarket.  It’s also something that we generally don’t experience in corporate-driven, profit-maximized America.  

Had dinner tonight at a place around the corner from the pensione.  Shortly after sitting down, in walks one group of friends, then another.  We pushed a couple of tables together and had a great time as a group of 8.  Such fun & part of the Camino experience.

Overall a very good day for this late in the journey.  Tomorrow is a shorter day & second to last day (and last night before Santiago.  More to think about.