Day 9 Arcade – Caldas del Reis
I slept well in my little room but I do keep waking up on Portuguese time… Around 6:30. Anyone that knows me well knows that usually I struggle to get up before 9.00 so this is a tad unusual and not a habit I want to get used to. So I read the news and tried to doze until 7.30 when I finally felt it was OK to get up.
I gathered my things, taped my feet and headed off into the early morning.
There was a cafe not far from the hotel, I remembered it from last time; we didn’t stop then and regretted it so I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice. I ordered a coffee and ask if they had anything sin gluten. I am never very hopeful at these breakfast stops but she nodded and fetched me a little cake. Lucky me!
Refreshed I set off just as the sky was turning that steely morning grey. I left town over the amazing bridge at Pontesampaio. Arcade is famous for its oysters but they pale into insignificance compared to this bridge. One of the most important battles in the history of Spain took place on this bridge: the battle against the French troops during the Spanish War of Independence. So much history and so little time to explore.
I was treated to a sunrise as I crossed. Oh how my heart sang. I love watching the sky change from grey to peach to blue. I’ve missed these early mornings with clear skies!
On I walked through the village and up into the hills. It didn’t rain much yesterday but even so the paths are still sodden in places. Going up these hills was like playing a game of stepping stones, trying to find a foothold that wasn’t underwater. Actually it makes for interesting walking and time and kilometres slip away.
Onwards as the sun rose and I stumbled into autumn at its finest. I honestly could have stayed looking at these trees for hours. It’s rained everyday in November in this area and today under a blue blue sunny sky the forest came alive. Birds sang, bees buzzed, butterfly’s flew amongst falling leaves of gold and red and orange. The light from the sun cut through the trees and filled the dark spaces. I didn’t want to leave. Every corner and every bend brought a new scene. With every step the sun rose higher and more and more light crept under the canopy. Oh it was a treat. I arrived at just the right moment on just the right day. I’m looking at the photos now and thinking they just don’t capture how magical my morning was.
On I walked. Leaving the forest behind I headed towards Pontevedra. I’ve been here before so today I didn’t plan to linger too long. It was a great place to stop for coffee. More treats as they had gluten free almond cookies. And my dear Pilgrim friend Linda sent me photos of her taking part in a huge santa race in the UK. And Gerry sent me a photo of himself togged up for the rugby… I walked through town grinning and blow me if santa didn’t step out in front of me and I followed him into town.
My feet had got damp a few times this morning so I found a bench and dried my feet, changed my socks and applied new tape. I should do that more often as my feet felt very happy.
On I wandered over another great bridge but major construction works were underway so I didn’t managed to take photos.
The path out of Pontevedra soon lead to suburbs and it felt like half the population was out walking. Sunday morning strollers, joggers and cyclists. One dad was jogging whilst pushing his young son along on his bike. So many greetings, so many Buen Caminos.
Onwards I walked and the further from town the quieter the path. There were lots of cyclists, and the odd horse but generally I was walking alone.
I love the sound of your feet crunching as you walk. It’s hypnotic. The sound of your feet is the sound of the camino. If I recorded that sound and played it to a Pilgrim they would agree. Crunch crunch crunch. It has a rhythm of its own. Like a heartbeat. It allows you to slip into your thoughts, away from the noise of everyday life.
I wanted to walk again this year because there is something I need to do and my thoughts wandered back to this task. Is it introspective or retrospective? To ponder what makes us tick? To ponder why we do the things we do? My father died this year and I’m not grieving but I am trying to make sense of the mess that was my childhood. I am my hardest task master. I set myself impossible and unrealistic challenges. I push myself to do more. Be faster. Be better. Be… I don’t do this because I want to be special. These things that drive me aren’t done for attention. They are inherent within me. I do all those things because I want to be good enough. The realisation of this and saying the words brought a tear. I know that some people resent my drive but if only they understood why. Crunch crunch crunch. As a young child I had a recurring dream. In my dreams I would climb into my wardrobe. But unlike The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe my land was just sand. Every night I climbed in and had to make the desert smooth. The wind would blow and make ripples in the sand and I had the make them go away. It was of course a herculean task and I would never succeed. I must have dreamed that dream a thousand times and it is as vividly clear to me now as it was then. Crunch crunch crunch.
The kilometres dropped away. And I put my thoughts to one side. That was enough for one day. Now however it was time for a break. I spotted a bus stop with a bench and thought Gerry would approve. I had a packet of crisps from a vending machine, a pear and some gluten free bread that I’ve been carrying for ages. I made a crisp sandwich, pear for pudding and all washed down with cold water. What more could a girl need!
I checked my feet, put my shoes and socks back on and continued.
I thought maybe I’d stop for another drink but the first bar was closed and at the second I felt too much in the swing of things to stop. Onwards onwards onwards. Most of the time the trail was good but a few times it was a stream. My feet feel good, only one little blister so I was careful not to get them wet.
I started walking at around 8.15 this morning and at 16:01 I crossed the bridge into Caldas del Reis. I’d walked over 34 kilometres and I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself. I had booked a room for the princely sum of 38 euros because I expected to arrive late. Instead I arrived just as the lunchtime kitchen was closing but for me, a Pilgrim they would cook. I ate on a table next to the staff. The first plate I probably ate too quickly because I was so hungry. I slowed down on the second and chatted to Gerry as I ate. I finished with rice pudding and a coffee and all for just 13 euros.
I’ve checked in, showered and my laundry is hanging on my makeshift washing line. Oh today was perfect.
Happy happy Sunday everyone.