Two 25 km days in a row so today will be a short 22.8 km from Ribadiso to Pedrouzo. I decided not to take any chances with accommodation nor with my feet/knees so I booked Porta de Santiago albergue and shipped my bag ahead. There are benefits to shipping your bag ahead. You only take what you need to for the day and some snacks, water and cash. It is certainly easier on the limbs.
The walk from Ribadiso was a little roundabout and you had to pass through a busy town called Arzúa. At least coffee would be available earlier. My flight attendants friends were already finished their breakfast as I walked in. A quick stop at a convent where I donated some money and a wave from the nun, I was on my way.
The landscape was different today. The guide book said we would pass through 3 gentle river valleys. After counting 5, I just gave up and enjoyed the day. lol The flowers by the side of the trail were gorgeous. Wild foxgloves and gladiolus lined the pathways making me smile at every turn. Mom loved gladiolus. Then I began to smell eucalyptus. Sure enough, the forest was full of them. On my break, I read up a little on the environmental battle over these trees which I thought only grew in Australia. Apparently, farmers mill them for pulp and paper and it is a lucrative business while environmentalists are concerned the fast-growing trees are crowding the native trees. I’m not sure what side I would be on, but the smell is incredible.
At lunch I stopped at a parridilla (barbecue) place but of course it didn’t open until 1:30. I had a grilled chicken plate with a salad and a beer. Relatively healthy eating this last month either out of necessity or lack of variety. Nonetheless, it was tasty.
Continuing on my journey, I went through more eucalyptus forests until break time. A familiar shouting of my name made me smile again as I saw Simon and Sarana (my mice house translators). We shared a hug and a chat. It was beginning to look like rain and I wanted to get to Pedrouzo before it poured. I anticipated I would arrive around 3:30 pm as the distance was shorter today.
On a descent, I saw this large wooden shelter with a man and his dog. He was playing some calming, meditative music and was selling his book. I took a seat for 10 minutes and meditated–it was a lovely balancing moment. The skies were getting darker and I heard rumbling in the distance.
As I continued, I passed some school buses waiting for the kids to be let out. I must be getting close to Pedrouzo. I started watching for street signs and continued to enjoy my walk through the vast eucalyptus forest following the Camino markers. My raincoat was readied in case the skies opened. I spotted some Brazilian cyclists up ahead getting on their rain gear. I felt so good and as it was cloudy I didn’t have the sun sapping my energy.
I did a time check and saw it was 4:30 pm approximately an hour past my estimated arrival time. I wasn’t worried as I was on the Camino trail, but I wanted to know where Pedrouzo was. I was following a highway so I knew civilization was close by. I just didn’t want to go much further without getting my bearings. I saw a lady walking towards me, and she told me I was 15 km from Santiago! I had walked an additional 5 km past Pedrouzo to Amanal. Apparently, this happens all the time as the signs are obscure. I was excited to be this close to the end but my bed and pack were back in Pedrouzo. I explained the benefits of sending your bag ahead, but this is the downside.
The kind lady directed me to a hotel up the path where I called a taxi (1 of 3) to take me back. I called the albergue and they confirmed they would not give up my bed. Sometimes if you don’t call and confirm you’re still coming before 3 PM, they will give up your bed. While waiting for the taxi which took one hour, I had a grande beer and toasted myself for doing 3 x 25 km days in a row. Look at me go! At least tomorrow will be an easy day.
The taxi driver was very kind and drove really fast. I was in front of my hostel in 10 minutes. A quick shower, and I stepped out onto the street to bump into Stephanie and Bianca from Germany. They were with Tim from Colorado. I also saw Sophie and Marlo and of course my flight attendant friends. Many of us gathered at a restaurant and enjoyed some awesome raciones (appetizers) and Rioja wine. This was the last night before the final push. This was a time to celebrate how far we had come and we did celebrate!
Colorado Tim had spent some time in Valencia and was fluent in Spanish. He surprised us with “queimada” a crock pot full of white spirit, cooked “flaming” with lemon/orange peel and coffee beans. It is quite impressive and delicious. Once cooked or burnt it takes on the flavour of Grand Marnier…did I say crockpot? Yep! It was a celebration.
I have no idea what time it was when I left but I had to do my laundry. I know I fell into my bed after midnight. It wouldn’t be a restful sleep with a snoot full of queimada and knowing tomorrow would be the final leg to Santiago. I wonder how I will react?