The next morning I met A as promised, and we had a good laugh at my tiny pack and her huge one. Also she is very petite and I am … not. We talked of books, we had breakfast – I am proud to say I was the one to introduce her to Tarta de Santiago (under the heading ‘good walking food’) – and then we went in search of a credencial for her. We soon found one and then went to the Peregrinoteca to get a shell, in fact two – one for Denise, one for herself. Then up the stairs and out of town, which so quickly turns into a surprisingly pretty walk. We walked at a good pace, none of us trying to match the other, and it just felt like I was truly back on the Camino again. Yes I still thought of Denise, yes I still missed the Scouse Spouse and yes I still had memory flashbacks of the other times I have been there, but walking with someone stopped me from looking back (or inside) and let me really enjoy the present.
And it was very enjoyable – another gorgeous sunny day, good temperature, nice views, happy faces, cold Aquarius … what more can you wish for? As we came to Morgade we met a Danish lady who was just leaving so we even got a table in the sun in the back garden, the place was packed. We bought a punnet of raspberries and walked along the typically Galician moss covered stone walls with trees leaning over them to create a tunnel of greenery and dappled sun … such as in the ONE pic I managed to take that day!
About half way there we heard a pilgrim approaching with angry steps and sticks. When I turned around she seemed familiar – she was a friend of a Canadian woman I had met briefly in Rabanal, and we had never even been introduced. So I asked her if she was indeed the Danish woman, to which the peregrina answered sternly: ‘No, I am not the Danish woman!’ I was sure it was her though and asked her about her Canadian friend, who I hadn’t seen in a while. As we talked, we walked, and then we were three. B, who was German (not Danish), had walked from St Jean and was feeling the effect of The Sarria Thing badly. I could relate, and A represented the Sarrians with her gentle joy at being on the Camino. By the time we got to the place I call the Reggae Bar (it always plays good music) in Mercadoiro, it felt like we had known each other for ages.
Then there was the accommodation thing. B had a private room, A wanted one to deal with her jetlag, so we decided to go in there together and ask for a room for her or one for us to share. But first we had to get there …
If you have been to Portomarin you will know about the bridge. It is high and long and has a narrow pedestrian part which really rattles me because I have a fear of drops and edges. As if that’s not enough the water is usually low when I get there so the old city, which was flooded on purpose, can be seen at the bottom of the river and acts as a magnet for the eyes that should not be looking down while I cross. I told A and B about this, and asked A if she would be so kind as to carry my Pacerpoles on the way across as I didn’t want to risk putting them down awkwardly and wobble – or having anything other than myself to control to be honest. She took them and I tried to be brave and start on the bridge. But there was a pilgrim in front of me … a slooow pilgrim … who stopped … took his pack off … and I watched with rising panic as he got his camera out, effectively forcing me to stop and stand still so close to the edge!
I just couldn’t do that, so I quickly stepped over the partition and into the car lane and kept walking. Behind me A shouted ‘Car!’ and I kept as close to the partition as I could, but without getting back into the pedestrian lane – I just couldn’t. While I was muttering my Bridge Mantra: Peregrina soy, a Santiago voy! (I am a pilgrim and I’m going to Santiago!) through gritted teeth, I felt someone take my hand. It was B, and she talked to me and stayed in the car lane with me, not caring a jot about the beeping tractors and cars that went past, until I got safely to the other side. Sometimes such a small act of kindness can mean so much.
After getting up the (also kinda scary) stairs up to town, B went to her room while A and I started looking for somewhere to stay. We agreed to meet in front of the church at seven to have dinner together. A found a room with a double bed and I got a bottom bunk in one of the cubicles at the Mirador. Then the usual pilgrim chores: shower, dress, laundry, hanging laundry, having a beer while waiting for it to be time to eat.
No sooner had we met up by the church than we started seeing people we had met or kept meeting, this time the Danish lady (the actual Danish one, who let us have her table) and the Swedish one, all peregrinas solas eating together on the square as the sun went down, some at the beginning and some at the end of their Camino. A perfect evening, ended with the promise of meeting up in the morning to walk on together.