Back to the night before: It turns out that the side room where we had picked our two beds, away from the semi crowded and damp and stifling albergue rooms upstairs, was actually a hall outside two private rooms with en suite bathrooms on the ground floor. Ah well, never mind. And I didn’t. Not until I came back to get ready for bed and the windows and doors were wide open because there had been a drain problem, made worse by a pouring-two-chemicals-down-it-that-should-not-be-mixed kind of problem, which created a toxic gas which luckily was aired out before anyone got into serious trouble. The poor hospitalero got the worst of it but was still alive the next morning and even made a phone call to Eirexe to book beds for us so we could take it nice and easy and not rush to get somewhere to stay.
However, in our little stone room, which was now very cold, the night only got colder. Sleeping bags were no match for a Galician altitude chill, so we put on our blankets. And then another from the beds next to us. And then there was a nocturnal blanket hunt which brought us up to three, stopped the chattering of teeth and made a little bit of sleep possible. Apparently the pilgrims in the rooms upstairs had to throw theirs off because the windows were closed and it got really hot and humid … and strange as it seems I think I prefer sleeping with access to three blankets and oxygen.
So, after a breakfast of café con leche and a plate of tomato and cheese, off we went towards Portomarin and That Bridge. The morning mist gave way to sunshine and so far all was well. Just before That Bridge though there is a new route and a choice between a steep and a less steep path, and I chose the steep. Luckily S chose the not so steep, because even Pacerpoles wouldn’t guarantee a safe arrival at the bottom. The trail was fine to begin with and then turned very steep, very rocky and probably very slippery if there is water or mud down it. The track has high walls on both sides so if you fall you will have to wait until someone else comes down it to get help. But at least it took my mind off That Bridge.
Note that the pic of That Bridge is taken from the safety of the opposite bank, shortly after the shaking had subsided and shortly before I treated myself to a bridge-crossing glass of vino medicino.
Since we had chosen different routes down towards That Bridge, I waited for S and we had an early lunch together. Then we carried on up through the woods, which were pretty much deserted at this time of the day, and came out on the (relatively) flat stretch towards Gonzar.
It was starting to get really hot, and we decided I might as well power walk off to the café at Gonzar and wait for S there. When I got there and sat down with a Clara, as you do, I could feel a nagging and achey sensation above the Achilles on the left leg. I had decided it was just a tense muscle, but I didn’t like the way it felt when I sat still. Not one bit.
We had looked forward to exploring the ruins at Castromaior – don’t walk past that detour! – but with another 10k to walk and my leg not right, we decided I might as well get a taxi to our room (or bed – we weren’t exactly sure what had been booked) and rest the leg so I could walk again the next day. I took both packs and left S with her good camera, the Pacerpoles and a silnylon bag with waterbottles. Then off I went to find out where we were staying! Here is a pic of Castromaior from last year:
Turns out we had a room with our own bathroom, which under the circumstances was a blessing. The 14 beds in one room mentioned in Brierley as Pension Airexe (not the muni next door) has 4 beds in one room and ten beds in doubles. Now we know. The lady was very helpful and offered washing and drying, so I took anything remotely resembling laundry out of both our packs, had a quick shower and got my gladrags on and handed the lady all our stuff. 7 euros very well spent – the sun soon lost its clothes drying power but all ours were nice and dry.
I then applied a generous amount of Voltarol to the offending hurty leg and hobbled off for a Clara (I told you, it’s what you do) and was soon joined by other peregrinas, most of them from Germany and most of them lawyers for some reason … I normally travel with nurses but it turns out lawyers are nice too! The aperitif was followed by a pilgrim menu and S still wasn’t there. The barman assured me that he would cook for her no matter how late she arrived, which was really nice of him and made me less worried. S and I stayed in contact via text messages and the new markers at just about every corner came in very handy to give us and idea of how far she had left – one marker was standing right outside the bar/restaurant where we waited and did our countdown.
Then just as darkness fell, our intrepid and very determined peregrina arrived, promptly ordered a hamburguesa and told us about some amazing photos that had been captured on her solo walk. (I will only tell you that her trail name will henceforth be Jumping Cow.)
After a long day we then went back to the Pension to find our beds and get a decent night’s sleep – with no snoring pilgrims! Bliss!