Sunday, 8 June 2014

Day nine Caldas de Reis to Padron. 11miles.

Caldas de Reis is a small town with thermal streams that have pumped up through the ground for millennia. I came across a small font in a back street which displayed a newly placed sign that I think said, 'Do not wash your feet in the font.' They must have known I was coming. I took advice from my hotel as to where the locals dined and was directed to a granite building, to the right of and half hidden by the bridge over which I had entered the town. I went down a board walk under the bridge and found myself in a world of hocks of ham, spirals of sausages, salty sardines and chewy cheeses of all descriptions. Vegans had not been forgotten for next door was a park where they could chomp on a few leaves while waiting for the carnivores to come out.

Inside, two burly men carved ham thinly and bread thickly while a lady the size of a butterfly flitted around serving as fast as she could. The three tables in the bar area were made from large mill stones and one also propped up the bar. The dark wooden ceiling and old granite walls gave a secretive feel to the surroundings. There was a terrace by the river but it was cold and didn't have the atmosphere of the inside. I opened the menu to find I was in fact in a tapas bar and everything on the menu was written in Spanish, which, considering where I was, was not too surprising. Seeing my confusion I was presented by the butterfly with another menu written in five European languages. 

I chose the Padron peppers followed by hash. The peppers, a speciality of the area, were small green, succulent and covered in rock salt and oil. The hash had great chunks of chorizo of all descriptions and wallowed about in a sea of red oil. This was the meal of peasant derivation which suited my antecedence perfectly. I am not one for fancy food. When I get served I want the contents of my plate to block the light coming in the window. 

So that was Caldas de Reis. Another town on the route march to Santiago done and dusted, I Now needed two  more stamps to complete my pilgrim's passport, the second of which would be in Santiago de Compostela.

I did not have to raid the breakfast buffet as the young lady on duty behind the reception desk harvested it for me.I had no idea what was in the bag she presented to me but it weighed a ton. I doubt there was much left for others to enjoy.  And so I plodded on. Over the old bridge, past the forbidden foot fountain and into a small square.  A number of market stalls were in the early stages of being erected and a man and women were arguing. He was either complaining about the size of the fish he caught yesterday, or, as is more likely, telling her she was invading his space and to push off. She was equally adamant she was going nowhere. I expect they sorted it out.

The road gave way once more to woodland path accompanied by the aroma of wet bracken and pine. Occasionally, the  scent of a eucalyptus tree wafted in. The mist wandered idly up the valley and save for the odd pilgrim or two I had the world to myself.  The weather was dull and, judging by all the locals carrying umbrellas, rain was expected. But it never came. Sometimes the sun would make an effort to break through and I could feel a warm wind wafting over me, like being caressed by a tepid furry glove. The sun was at an argumentative stage with the clouds, not quite able to break through and forming a white bright oval behind of, but never in front of, the clouds that eventually won the tussle. 

It was while contemplating this particular scene that a lorry drove past along the quiet country lane I was on. It stopped up a slight incline before reversing back. the driver got out and approached me.
" Camino?" "Si Senor," he pointed behind me and held up five fingers. Once more I had wandered off into dreamland which nearly had me wandering off to who knows where. I thanked him, shook his hand, and got back on track.
I was now having to nurse my leg which was beginning to wish this was all over. I slowed my pace a little which helped. At around mid-day Padron, my destination, came is to sight. Santiago was now only 15 miles away. A few years back I would have slipped down a gear and gone for it. Not now though. I have time in hand and needed to use it to the best advantage. Which meant resting the leg.

Approaching Padron I was overtaken by an young Asian boy and girl. They wished me "Buen Camino" as they went off into the distance. They were running, taking little baby steps but running. "Are you running the camino?" I shouted after them. "Yes", they fired back without altering the cadence of their tread. I could not resist clapping their effort and they raised a hand in thanks. Gracious me, even with two good legs I would have trouble running to the foot of our stairs. 

Approaching Padron, on the opposite side of the river, I came across a large factory with three chimneys belching white smoke. It was a confusion of pipes and buildings and the noise of machinery coming from within its bowels was constant. A chipboard, MDF smell pervaded the air and indeed that is what it produced. I later asked a local how people could live with that noise and smell. He shrugged, "You get used to it." Well, I suppose I could get used to hitting myself on the head with hammer all day if I had to. 

I booked into my hotel, made myself  presentable and went to the bar for a beer. The first came with tapas, a small plate of beans and stew. The second beer with speghetti and meat. I really wanted a third beer but I didn't think I could eat what might follow. Still, at 1.60 euro. a throw I could get fairly squiffy and quite replete for very little money tonight.

One more day to go and, of course, there is serious point to all this walking which is to raise funds for my local hospice who's sole  reason for existence is to ensure no one dies alone, in pain, or without dignity. I intended to raise £1000 for them and am very close that target now, thanks to the generosity of others. If you go to:

 You will also be able to see how a got along on previous treks. 

Now for the final push.

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