After the summer holiday, I'm back with new posts.
This time, I want to share my experiences of " El Camino de Santiago" with you.
Four years ago I planned to do ‘The Way’, but two months before my departure I broke a bone in my foot and I had to put it off. This year, doing ‘The Way’ was not in my mind, nevertheless, things sometimes happen when you don't expect them.
It was mid-June when my cousin Rosa phoned me to let me know that she was going to do The Saint James' Way in August. Then she asked me:
- Why don't you come with me? My first thought was:
- Me! In two months! No, I'm not in shape. It's been a long time since I last went hiking, I don't even go walking. I don't feel prepared.
However, over the next few days I couldn't stop thinking about it. Doing The Way had been my dream for a long time, and now I had the chance. So I began to go for a walk every morning on a track near my house to get fit and, finally, I decided to join my cousin and one more friend.
We chose to walk the last part of the French Way - around 120 Km, finishing in Santiago - which we would divide into six stages:
1st day: Sarria-Portomarín
2nd day: Portomarín- Palas de Rey
3rd day: Palas de Rey- Melide
4th day: Melide-Arzúa
5th day: Arzúa-Pedrouzo
6th day: Pedrouzo-Santiago
As I wouldn't like this post to be too long, I'm going to split it up into the six stages.
First Stage: Sarria-Portomarín 22.5 Km
We get up at 6:30am. It's still dark outside but we want to reach our destination before midday.
I feel excited and a bit nervous. It's the first time in my life that I'm going to walk such a long distance. Will I be able to complete the stage?
I start the day with what would become a routine for the next five days: after preparing my backpack with the essential things for the day, I eat something sweet or some fruit, stretch my muscles, and massage my feet with vaseline before putting on my socks and trainers. This is pretty important when you
are going to walk for a long time. In fact, I think it was the massage with vaseline and the appropriate trainers that saved me from getting blisters on my feet.
Before leaving the village of Sarria, we decide to have breakfast in a nearby bar, to begin the day with energy. In the villages of The Way, most of the bars open very early in the morning to serve breakfast and offer provisions to the pilgrims. While we are having breakfast, there is a constant stream of pilgrims exchanging greetings and wishing each other good luck on The Way. From then on, we start to feel the special atmosphere of The Way.
The day is chilly at dawn, but little by little it warms up. The track is quite irregular, with a lot of ups and d
owns, but, at the same time, its beauty is spectacularly unique. We passed by paths full of vegetation; high ferns, hazelnuts, chestnut trees, eucalyptus, etc. The Way is dotted with small picturesque villages, with just a few stone houses and, sometimes, a Romanesque church.
Along the way, we come across some surprises; one person who had a kind of stand with fruits next to an ancient tree, so that pilgrims can pick one piece of fruit for free or leave a donation. We pass by a stunning field of sunflowers - the compulsory place to take a photo!
In the breaks that we take to rest and recover our energy, we take advantage of the opportunity to chat to other pilgrims. Some of them started The Way in Sarria, like us, others come from distant places and have many kilometres behind them. In one of our stops we meet a German woman who is doing The Way alone, beginning in Leon. We continue along the track together till the end of the stage, and my friend, who speaks German, makes the most of the opportunity to practise the language.
When we are more or less in the middle of the stage, I start to feel the effect of the irregular topography on my body. My legs are tired, my knees hurt, and the backpack seems to become heavier and heavier.
When there are still 3 or 4 Km left to reach Portomarín, we can see the village on the top of a hill. The sight of the village makes us believe that it's closer than it actually is. These last few kilometres are endless.
Once in Portomarín, the first thing we do is have lunch in a restaurant located in a very nice square in the centre of the village. I feel exhausted, I think I couldn't have walked one kilometre more.
Portomarín is a small village and, fortunately our hostel is close to the restaurant. We have all the rest of the day to relax and see the town.
To be continued...
Put off - Posponer, postergar, dejar para otro momento
Split up - Separar,dividir
Warm up - Calentar, entrar en calor
Come across - Toparse con.., encontrarse con
To make the most of - Aprovechar