I Wish. Pam Ayres started a lot of her poems with those words… Oh I wish I’d looked after my teeth… And so on. We’ll today I found myself thinking I Wish a lot too… Although not about my teeth!
Last night we stayed in the monesterio and even though our host was the kindest sweetest jolliest man you could wish to meet, his enthusiasm for the building didn’t compensate for the lack of heat… It didn’t do much either for the beds that were actually made from wooden pallets and crikey they were hard. Antonia was from Brazil and was wonderful. He even got us clapping to his breakfast blessing in the style of We Will Rock you by Queen but no matter how kind he was there was a part of me that wished we walked on in the rain yesterday and found a warmer bed.
When we left this morning I was wearing two coats, my hat, scarf and gloves and was shocked to realise it was warmer outside and quickly pulled off some layers.
It was dry and there was blue sky so that was a blessing. And we were soon walking off cobbles and onto a softer path through a forest. That also made me happy. But all too soon the rain started and not for the first time this trip I questioned the wisdom of a November/December camino.
On we walked back on to cobbles and beside the main road. Crikey I wished that the Portuguese didn’t drive so fast. I was mighty glad when the arrows took us off the road and onto a trail and then back to quiet country lanes.
We crossed a bridge with its origins in the 11th century. This felt more like the camino I imagined. Suburbs gave way to rurality. The walls remained but at a more polite height which allowed views of the hills beyond us. We spotted typical white square Portuguese houses and magnificent old churches still adorned in blue and white tiles. We walked by farmers in tractors and the odd old lady with a smile that revealed a toothy grin as she called Bom Camino. I keep replying Gracias and wish I could remember to say Obrigada instead!
After two hours of good walking we stopped for a drink. We guessed we’d walked a good 9 kilometers but the book said 4? This wasn’t possible! But then we looked at the detour routes that we’d taken (optional camino trails that took us off the highway) and we guessed these options had added extra miles. We shrugged. It couldn’t be changed but it meant a long day was in store.
On we walked through beautiful countryside. It wasn’t sunny but it was dry and the odd patch of blue and I was still happy for that. There is water everywhere. So far in November it has rained every day here. The ground is wet and the rivers are swollen and water is laying on the fields. The locals all say this year is wet and cold and there is more to come. So we walked under a dry sky and that was good.
We stopped for lunch in San Pedro de Rates. It was a little early but we decided it was better than waiting too long. I went with chicken and rice and Sheila opted for a vegetarian curry. Whilst we ate we pondered our options. We can walk another 7km or another 14km. We’d already walked around 19km but decided to wait and see but we suspected 7km would be about right. I’m still walking on my Primitivo legs but this is Sheila’s first camino!
Happy with that choice we took our chances back on the road and again I wished that Portuguese drivers were a tad slower and that there was a pavement for pilgrims.
Thankfully before long we were back on sandy trails. A few flooded muddy sections slowed us down but we made good time and arrived at the 7km alburgue around 14:30.
I arrived first and was greeted by Miles Davis drifting out of the speakers and an array of photos and musical memorabilia. My mind went back to a bar in Galicia where me and Gerry were greeted with the Blues… Just thinking about the Primitivo made me incredibly homesick for Gerry.
I ordered a coke and listened to Miles and checked my toes. My new Hoka’s aren’t right and I switched back to my old Altra Lone Peaks. I had a tiny blister but my feet were coping well.
Sheila arrived, ordered a coke and felt on balance she’d rather stay. So she asked if we could get a bed.
No… Sorry… We don’t open the alburgue on Monday. Gulp. We both started to wish that maybe we’d stopped at the last alburgue.
There was nothing for it. Barcelos it was. But the owner told us that there was a new alburgue 5km further on. He called and she was open.
Back on the road, literally. Hugging the shoulder (or lack of one) we left the village. Soon a pavement appeared and shortly after this we were taken back to the forest and quieter trails.
On and on we walked and the sky darkened and rain started. Only 2km to go. I felt surprisingly OK but poor Sheila was ready to stop.
Finally we arrived. My fitbit says we walked 33km. I’m not sure I believe that but it was certainly over 30km. The alburgue is small but the owner is kind and generous and I’m pretty sure after we’ve eaten we’ll sleep well.
I’m laying on my bed now listening to Prometo and thinking back to my last walk with Gerry and really really wishing he was here or we were there.