Saturday, 7 June 2014

Day seven. Rendondela to Pontevedra. 11.5 miles.

  The hostel was a rather crowded affair last night and with many people caught in the heavy rain space to dry clothes was at a premium. There was space, but it was spaced out, so to speak, which meant leaving socks pants, shorts and tops in various places around the establishment. There was a rigorously enforced rule of no washing to be hung out of the window and not wanting to be arrested by the underpants police I went along with it. 

Then the next day's ritual starts. At 0530 someone's phone alarm goes off. Usually a calming melody but non the less irritating at that time of the morning. Many groan and pull their sleeping bag over their head and disappear. Then the Mosquitos arrive.  Zzzzzzip,   Zzzzzip. That's the sound of zips being opened as people start to pack. The room is still very dark for now we are on Spanish time, one hour ahead of Portugal who share our  BST.

Then it's the turn of the drunken lighthouse keepers. Those with head torches who think they are being considerate but every time they turn their head a lance of bright light pierces the room. Get  half a dozen people wearing these and it look like a Star Wars duel.

I have dumped all my stuff in a corner and gather it up to go to the landing to get sorted out. It is quiet there and I can get dressed in peace while using the last few minutes before I leave to get a little bit more charge into my iPad. Once dressed I wander across the street to the cafe which is just opening up. A group of Italian pilgrims are standing outside.  

I look around for the first arrow but it's too  dark to pick it up so I go in for an orange juice and toast. Soon the Italians leave, I follow them but they too cannot find the first arrow. Get it wrong and you can spend ages getting back on track. They disperse like an exploding star until someone shouts. They have found it. They troop off and I follow at a discrete distance, not wanting to appear that I am riding in their slipstream,which of course is exactly what I am doing. When I lose sight of them I can still hear them and eventually it's light enough for me to pass and find my own way through the countryside.

Ninety-Nine percent of my walk has been in my own company. I have met other pilgrims, of course, but these are fleeting moments and I was soon alone again with my own thoughts for company. There were two modest climbs on route, one of 153 meters and another of 145. As I made my way up the first the hills still had clouds sleeping on them and although the wind was coming from the south it was cold. 

Nevertheless, it was pleasing to walk through mixed forest on good track. Occasionally, when the clouds parted, the sun shone a dappled light on the fields of potatoes and sweetcorn. Some parts of the track narrowed into a surface of shiny huge stones worn smooth by centuries of drovers hooves which made the stones glacial when wet. I was now walking close the the sea which made the occasional appearance  through breaks in the forest. As I walked under the canopy a zephyr would shake the water from the leaves high above and the drops would patter onto my hat. But rain it did not. Thankfully.  Crossing the 17c stone bridge of Pontesampaio I found a monument to the local garrison who had bloodied Napoleon's nose when fighting for their country's independence. 

And so the trail moved on. More woodland and narrow lanes until I eventually found myself on the outskirts of Pontevedra at noon. It had been a leisurely 11 miles, and I had come across my first friendly dog. Walking through the suburbs of Pontevedra there was a strong smell of fish being cooked and ahead I could see on the pavement a large garden parasol and a steaming metal tub being heated on a gas stove. Alongside was a table full of circular wicker baskets. I crossed the road and peered into the tub to find a couple of large octopus being boiled. I was told by the proud cook that if I waited an hour I could have some. I thanked him, but perhaps another time. 

Today I am going to live in the lap of luxury. I have three days and 41 miles to go and have booked myself into a hotel where they don't have a sign saying no clothes on the balcony. I have washed everything that needs doing including my feet that really needed a good soaking. I can rest my leg which is now quite painful, and I am looking forward to a little sight seeing and a good meal. Who knows, it might be a stunning goats cheese salad.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Roger. Am enjoying your posts. Am planning an assault on the Camino Portugues next year. Am happy to support your excellent charity. Meanwhile, Buen Camino!