Day 12. Caldas de Reis to Iria Flavia
Our little room last night was way more comfy than we had expected. We had a room for four with a shared bathroom but as the only guests in the house, we had the place to ourselves.
We did our usual morning routines in silence before heading back into town to find breakfast. We all feel that now it’s dark and cold in the morning it makes more sense to eat before we start. This morning we thought we’d lost out as everything was closed but Jaqui spotted the opening times on the door and we waited for 2 minutes and lo and behold… breakfast. It wasn’t quite as wonderful as Pontevedre but it was very nice and this pilgrim is certainly not complaining!
My ankle feels easier but my toe is really quite sore. I know what I should do (rest it for a day) but that isn’t going to happen.. so I took a painkiller… don’t judge me 😀 if I can’t feel it then I’m happy. The blisters are taped and clean so I know I’ve done all I can… what I need most now is to walk for two more days. 😀 Actually it worked well for me today!
We left town through the old streets and crossed an equally old but very quaint little bridge. I tried to take photos but it was small and surrounded by modern buildings and the photos just don’t do it justice… so you’ll have to take my word for it.
We walked into open countryside; it’s cold but not as cold as it has been and it wasn’t long before layers were coming off… first gloves then hat and then scarf.
We reached a small village and made a stop for coffee. It was full of pilgrims, including The Viking. We greeted and exchanged pleasantries and ordered two cafe con leches and a hot chocolate. Blow me these were big! Great big steaming mugs of fabulous coffee! Oh I dream of Spanish coffee in these mugs… what a treat!
But time was marching and so should we. Off we went into the fields and then the forest. We were climbing today… we’ve been gently climbing for days and it feels high. We look across at wooded hills and watch birds soar across the blue skies. As the sun rises we can see the mist rising from the forest floor allowing the sun’s rays to be marked out like some forest disco light show. The leaves are turning orange and yellow and falling in the breeze and the path is transformed into some magical Kingdom where even the blades of grass sparkle. Oh Galicia put on her best for us this morning and is was a beautiful walk.
We left the forest and wandered into the village. The church bell was ringing a slow continual toll and people were arriving in sombre mood; there was to be a funeral. We stopped for lunch in the cafe at the top of the village and watched as more and more people arrived; the church was going to be full. As we ate, a large old dog stood in the garden behind us looking fixedly across at the church. He had such a sad expression that we wondered if perhaps he was in mourning too? Pipers and a drummer arrived and as we left the village we could hear bagpipes fill the silence across the valley. Once they stopped we heard gunfire… 5 equal shots and then one louder. This was repeated a few minutes later.
It was a surreal experience to be strangers looking on at such a private and intimate moment and we talked about how life and death is dealt with in different cultures. And that for the most part we are all forgotten within a generation or two. We walked on and into the next town all still pondering life and family and our children. Sometimes it all seems so difficult. Sometimes it seems like there are so many choices and that it is so easy to make mistakes… but it’s also so easy to forget how unimportant most of our worries are. .. when we put them into perspective.
We all pondered this and reflected on our walk… I really do believe that walking gives me a chance to see between the cracks. It gives me the chance to breathe fresh life into dark corners and these reflections and thoughts give me encouragement that I’m not doing too badly. I really believe that everyone should go walking in a foreign land… maybe the world would be a kinder place if we did?
We stopped at Padron for a cold drink and bumped into so many familiar faces… I love this aspect of camino life! Many people are staying in town but we decided to walk on another kilometre. And gosh it was a great choice!
I’d rung ahead to book and he said he would open just for us. We have the entire albergue to ourselves but it feels more like a posh apartment. When we arrived the chap asked if we would like at history lesson and we said yes please, so once we checked in he gave us the full history of Iria Flavia. Padron might be famous for its peppers but this little town has an amazing history… Celts and Romans all called it home… it has famous sons and daughters… even an illustrious English man featured… it has the first church in the world that was dedicated to the Virgin Mary and it was once more important than Santiago de Compostela…. and more important than all of this… it was here in this little settlement in the Galician hills that a man called James made his home… where a disciple of Jesus spoke and where people came to listen.
Just 22.5 kilometres to go.