It is the eleventh of October and the sun is taking its sweet time getting up in the morning. We started at 715 AM out of the Hostel in Miraz. We had gotten up early, but Laura found a bedbug in her bed and it was still full of blood. We mention it to our roommates… Diane says that her friend got bedbugs from the hostel in Baamonde. AAAUUUUUGGGHHHH!!! Instantly your mind goes through how to rid yourself of these nasty beasts. We had treated all of our clothes, packs, and Cocoon sleeping bag liners with permethrin any bug spray. We hope that it kept the bugs to a minimum and kills the remainder, but heat and/or laundering is the best way to rid yourself of them. By the time we make the town of Sabrado, we have plans to wash and dry all of the clothes and gear we can.
Despite the low spirits and general bad mood the bedbugs impart, we trek on through the dark, eventually passing our friends on a dark hill around 8 AM. The sun creeps up around 830AM, but coffee elude us. An albergue/hostel on the way is supposed to have a café, but when we approach it, we can see that they are closed- maybe for the season. We hopped up on a stone wall and ate some cookies and random snacks from our pack while watching farm animals walk around and the albergue owners get in their car and drive off.
After a long uphill and on one of the last hills of the entire Camino we came to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. It was first noticeable by the large number of dogs and cats roaming around and then more forcefully by the smell. They kept lots of chickens, turkeys, and who knows what other animals. The place was a bit of a mess of random outbuildings, but, lo and behold, there are two fellow Camino walkers drinking coffee and eating toasted bread. Apparently the farm operates a “café” as a side business. If you can get past the farm smell, the instant coffee and toast with jam wasn’t bad. As we ate, Diane and Patrick joined us.
I don’t recall anything about the night in Sabrado other than doing several loads of laundry and baking it in as much heat as I thought the fabrics could handle.
We started at 7 AM with clean clothes and hope that the bugs were a bad memory and the renewed hope that when we joined the main pilgrimage route, Camino de Santiago Francés, in Arzua things would be easier. The Francés route is the most popular. That means that more businesses cater to the weird hours and high calorie diets of the pilgrims. There was a spring in our step and my knee was almost normal as we walked through long roads alone. As we approached the town, our now good friends Diane and Patrick showed up. We all marveled at a church that seemed to be dedicated to a stoner…or maybe the drawing skills of a high school student.
We each had booked different albergues, but enjoyed a brief chat before separating again. Our Albergue was fancy. Cotton sheets and a nice layout for people doing a long walk. We had lunch and tried to buy stuff for dinner, but the stores closed before we could get in. So much for the Francés route providing. We did score a loaf of bread and some pastries, so all was not lost.
When we left in the morning, it was raining. We donned headlights and stomped through the rain. We hadn’t made it more than a kilometer when we saw someone ahead. It was a tall guy dressed strangely in what looked to be a kid’s patterned rain poncho, one trekking pole, an umbrella, and a weak headlight. I had a hard time understanding him, but he mumbled something about three headlights were better than one. As we walked I learned he was in his 60 or 70’s. His appearance reminded me of a businessman that was stranded with a small set of random gear from the trunk of a rental car.
Laura was sporting a new headlamp, so she took lead and lit the way. We were walking on a road that was the low point with high banks on either sided. Salamanders and frogs could be seen in our headlights. It was fun except the guy started talking at us. We learned he was from South Korea and he had a tight schedule to finish the Camino that day. He would repeat the same sentences over and over. Something about the Korean or Vietnam War. He was hard to follow and any attempt to glean additional information or change the subject caused him to start over talking about a war that we never were 100% about which one it was or why he was talking about it other than that is all he knew about the USA. We stopped at a coffee shop and were amazed when the South Korean guy ordered fried eggs and an apple. We had been living on chocolate croissants for weeks and hadn’t seen any place that had a short order grill. As we drank our café con leche and ate our chocolate croissants, another South Korean showed up. He was in his twenties or thirties and talked briefly with our guy. You could tell by the younger guy’s reaction and his quick escape that our guy was odd. The others wanted nothing to do with him. We walked with him for a good distance more, never got further with details of his life or talking about ours. We eventually left him giving away his umbrella and his poncho to bewildered folks who were just out for a walk.
We found our hostel and started laundry, this hostel didn’t let you do your own, but they had an inexpensive paid service. As the laundry got washed and dried, we went looking for food. The first restaurant was a Michelin Starred place that we just walked by in hunger. Our budget didn’t rate that kind of food. Most of the other places were closed due to it being Sunday and Festival Nacional de España. We did find a nice hotel restaurant open and a gas station that sold some odds and ends for dinner- bread, box wine for €1, and a small bag of olives that we thought was olive oil. Our feast of bread, the worst wine in Spain, and olives (for me) was punctuated by another guest talking loudly into a phone the entire meal. To add context, a bottle of cheap and good wine in Spain will set you back 2-5 Euros. A broth box of gutter wine will set you on your back with a headache and the sad disappointment of how you got it.
Around 830 PM, I went to brush my teeth and ran into 2 Americans, Ted and Diane. We chatted for maybe 30 minutes before Laura joined us. We chatted for another hour until we decided it was time for bed. In the middle of the night it came to me, TED AND DIANE! We had been told by several walkers that we should talk to them. It was a strange stroke of luck that they had seceded to stay in an albergue that was a fairly short walk to Santiago to avoid the Sunday/Holiday madness, too. After we got up in the morning, we chatted some more.
After we left the albergue, we walked with a couple from Missouri that were taking a gap year, too. The rain poured down from the sky like a broken hostel shower set to cold. At times the gutters turned to rivers and Camino walkers disappeared into cafés and stores to wait out the worst of the rain. Since Laura’s rain gear had failed and she was soaked through, we continued. When the rain finally stopped, we stopped at one of the few places that was dry. I sat down and promptly tore a 3 CM/1 inch hole in the seat of my pants. FML. We walked on until we found a trash can where Laura deposited her rain pants and a few choice words.
We stumbled down to the Compostela office to turn in our documents and get a number in the line so we could finish this on October 14, 2019. While waiting for our number in line, who should walk by but the guy from South Korea! Apparently he had walked the distance but arrived too late to get his certificate on the day he completed the walk. We waved, but left to check into our hotel. After check in, we went for food. Pizza, wine and a salad hit the spot. We later completed the certification process and got our certificate of being stupid enough to walk over 500 miles.
That evening, we hung out with Eddie and Clare. All were feeling the happiness of completing a long and tiring task.
The next morning, we braved the wind, cold, and tired legs to walk 200 meters to a waiting bus for a ride to Finisterre. Friends had planned to walk the extra 90 kilometers/56 miles, but most were thwarted by the horrible weather. The tour bus made it just fine.