Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Camino Day 12

3 September, 2014 - Portomarin

Okay, so it's been a few days. Let's see...I left off last in O'Cebreiro so Triacastela was next. The downhill between O'Cebreiro and Triacastela was pretty tough - I generally go pretty quick downhill but it also hurts my joints a ton more than uphill. Also, to add a fun little wrinkle, I only had a 5 euro note for two days because there wasn't a cash machine up at the top of the hill.

Morning on the way to Triacastela - I get to walk down into these valleys
So I got to Triacastela, found an albergue then went in search of a cash machine so I could pay for a bed for the night! It turns out that albergue was the best on my entire Camino because I met some of the coolest pilgrims - almost all of whom I am sure I will keep in contact with.

First, I set off to hang my laundry on the line where I met Ramon. Ramon is from Venezuela originally, lived in Madrid for about 10 years and now lives in London. I started talking to him in Spainsh, "Hola, como estas? Da donde?" To which he promptly replied, "Don't worry, we can speak in English if you like." Ha! At first I was a bit annoyed that he wouldn't let me practice my Spanish, but I was so happy when we kept talking.

Ramon had to go call his girlfriend back in London so I was sitting in the common area waiting for my laundry to dry when I met Brendan from Singapore. Brendan is a huge Liverpool Football Club supporter! I was telling him about studying in Liverpool after the Camino and we instantly bonded. It turns out he and his wife went to England for their honeymoon and they got to go to a match at Anfield!

After chatting with Brendan, I went up to my room where I met three of my new roommates - Don, Peter and Jose. Don is from Dallas and is looks to be in his late-50s or early-60s. Pete is from Glasgow but lives and works in London. It turns out that Pete works in the same neighborhood where Ramon lives! Small world. Jose is from Alicante, a beach city here in Spain. I don't know what Jose does, but he seems to be a bit punk rock-ish. He showed us a picture of himself with shoulder-length hair wearing a kilt at a hard rock music festival.

These guys were so fun to hang out with! We all went to dinner together and chatted about our routes and proposed towns that we will be staying in. We talked about why we are doing the Camino and what we hope to get out of it and drank lots of vino tinto.

It turns out I ran into Ramon in Sarria yesterday and today in Portomarin along with Don and Pete. Don and Pete walked from St. Jean. They both go about 30 kilometers a day but want to arrive in Santiago on Don's birthday on September 8th. I really like hanging out with these guys so I'm going to try to push myself to keep pace with them.

Yesterday at the albergue in Sarria, I met two more new friends! Aldo is an Italian who is walking the Camino for the FIFTH time!! And Ji Wuk is in her early-20s from South Korea but is studying in Germany for a term. I walked with Aldo and Ji Wuk this morning in the pitch dark out of Sarria. Aldo speaks Italian and a bit of Spanish, Ji Wuk speaks a bit of Spanish and English and I speak English and a bit of Italian. So between the three of us we were able to communicate fairly well.

I've met so many new friends in the past three days that I just didn't feel like writing. I'm trying to participate rather than observe and while that means less frequent journal entries, it also means more meaningful relationships with my new friends.

Walking from Sarria to Portomarin yesterday was very pleasant. Even though we started walking in the dark, there were a ton of people walking together so it wasn't too scary. Sarria is the city which is 100 kilometers from Santiago - it's the closest city where people can start their Camino and still get their compostela - certificate for completing the Camino. So there are a ton more people in general plus a lot more of a commercialized feel to everything. But it is still part of the Camino and there is definitely still something to learn from this stretch of the Way.

Cold walk from Sarria to Portomarin
The walk was really foggy and quite chilly. So while my feet hurt the appropriate amount for having walked over 20 kilometers, my body felt like it could keep going. But the next town was another 8 kilometers of walking. So I'm staying here in Portomarin as I had planned.

After about a week on the Camino, I finally settled into a good walking routine. I leave by 7:30am, stop for tea and a croissant after about 6-8 kilometers. I then walk for another 8 kilometers or so before I should stop for a break. That is usually about an hour or so before I get into the town I stay in that night. I'm planning to get into town and reserve a bed by 1 or 2 pm each day now. I don't want to risk not getting a bed with so many more people walking the Camino now.

Well, I've just run into Don, Pete and Ramon. Don and Pete are moving on but Ramon is staying here in Portomarin. I'm meeting him for dinner later so I'm off to take a shower.

Dear God, please bless all of my new friends. Thank you for bringing them into my life. Please help us keep in contact throughout and after the Camino and please keep them safe, healthy and happy. Amen.

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