Last (and really Only) Long Day

Friday, August 13, 2021

Our plan to hit the road at 6:00 am was moved up to 5:30 since everyone was Up And At ‘Em early. And then it was immediately thwarted when we realized that we were locked in and the front entrance door was programmed to open at 6:00 anyway. (And there was no easy window to escape from as we have done in the past!)

Since we are now 13 in number, we didn’t exactly slip away, but under the dark of pre sun rise we donned head lamps and off we went.

Some stopped at the first open Bar for coffee and three of us kept going getting a chance to enjoy an enchanting sunrise together. About two hours in we came to a to a really cool establishment decked out in signed beer bottles everywhere the eye could rest. My two comrades decided to stop, I kept on and I never looked back.

What a gorgeous terrain and wonderful day! There were a handful of hills yet mostly strolls through eucalyptus forests with very tall trees, stone bridges and gurgling creeks. And upon routes I recognized on past Caminos, so it was very nostalgic and over the top enjoyable for me! I sang folk songs to myself and with every step I took I just wanted to keep going!

As I got within two miles of my end destination I decided I would stop at the next bar for some chow – and wouldn’t you know it, there were no more before I arrived at my destination (but only after some last “in-your-face” grueling hills exposed to intense sunshine!). Many families and day walkers out today, the latter being people who have their backpacks bussed forward and are dropped by van at various spots along the route to begin walking. Sometimes they are just local Spaniards out enjoying a day, a weekend, or vacation.

With mileage at 17.2 and 5 1/2 hours later I arrived at the juncture of small tienda (store) and our albergue for the night and who should I happen upon at that exact moment but three of our crew who took a taxi (due to lingering sickness and injuries)!! The albergue wasn’t due to open up for forty five minutes so we got a few snacks and waited and waited.

And waited and waited. The front of our last pre Santiago de Compostela abode was not shaded and frankly felt like the parking lot of an auto supply store. We thought it was supposed to open at 12:30 but shoot, at 1:00 someone noticed the sign said opening at 1:30!!! Today to eat I had an orange and almonds at about 8 am and then some leftover potatoe chips and an apple I had in my backpack. I bought a beer at the tienda because I was really hot and felt victorious from my Camino accomplishment – it was warm – yuk! At 1:25 someone suggested an ice cream run & I had an ice cream bar, which surely was delicious, yet I felt like garbage afterwards. The place finally opened at 1:40. Two of our group arrived after walking the full distance about five minutes before the place opened, most anxious to jump in the shower, but I was lucky I was able to score one first! Man, did I feel brand new after that!

Though our albergue looks like an auto supply store on the front side, the backyard is inviting and simply wonderful, with shady and sunny areas, lots of tables and plenty of room to hang clothes on the drying line with full sun exposure! They have a living room with television and a fully stocked kitchen in terms of pots and pans and a laundry facility as well. It looks like we will be having a community dinner tonight, especially since there are no restaurants nearby. I heard talk of spaghetti!

Tomorrow will be bittersweet. We only have seven miles until we walk into Santiago de Compostela and our daily focus of one foot in front of the other will conclude. So much to reflect upon and so much shared pain and joy. We will have a couple of down days in general to process and have a “intentional closing” to talk about it with each other before everyone heads off to spend a couple more days in Spain or home.

From Arzúa today we walked through A Calzada, A Calle, Salceda, A Brea, Santa Irene, Rúa, Pedrouzo, by Santiago’s Labacilla Airport and into the town of Labacolla. From the The Northern Caminos guidebook, “In the middle ages, pilgrims paused here to clean themselves in the river prior to arrival in Santiago. The translation of the name Labacolla highlights a particular concern: ‘wash scrotum’…”

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