Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Day 30 And We´re Back!!

Wow, it has been a whole week since I¨ve been able to get to a computer.  Somehow we got off track and have been ending up in tiny towns.  No one seems to have a public computer or phone!  Fortunately, I have still been writing in my journal and can give you some highlights.

Mileage to date:  767 km or 477 miles!  

We are in Palas del Rei today and ONLY 42 miles from Santiago!!  Then it´s only another 55 miles to Finesterre!!!  I can´t believe after so many weeks that we are only 2 days away from Santiago.  The sad thing is that it will take us 2 full days to walk there and in a car we could reach it in 30 minutes! LOL  Santiago is the end for many, but a limited few will walk to Finesterre.  When we reach Santiago, we will be presented with a certificate and we will receive a second one in Finesterre.

There are many more people on the Camino right now.  Many people start about 10 days out and still receive a certificate.  If you ask me--that´s cheating! LOL  There are many high school students who come with their teacher as a final project or Senior trip.  They are fun and full of energy.  My mom and I keep commenting about the fact that teenagers act the same no matter where they are from :)

So, when I made the last post we were in a town called Rabanal.  Here are some of the week´s highlights...
  • After we left Rabanal, we finally made it to Cruz to Ferro.  This is where I left the stones that I brought from home.  I was very excited to reach this point.  We took many photos and some video.  I left a rock that my friends signed, a rock that said SASSY on it and an Arizona key chain (from the Stewarts), along with an American flag key chain.  It was so fun to see all of the other items that had been left before me.
  • On the same day, it was very hot and many of our Camino friends were ill.  We couldn´t figure out if it was the food, water or dehydration.  In the end, they think that it may have been a virus.  We were lucky enough to be passed over.  On our way into the next town, we saw some police on the trail.  They were waiting for an ambulance to pick up a hiker.  She was curled up in a ball on the ground.  She had been vomiting and was badly dehydrated.  She was taken to the hospital and fortunately released 2 hours later.  All of the pilgrims were very concerned and praying for her and the others who were ill.
  • That night we had dinner at the Albergue.  We met a man who must have been 75.  He is doing the Camino trail backwards by bike.  I´m not sure where he started, but by the time he reached Santiago he had already ridden 1000km --over 600 miles!!  I think he had another 1000km to reach his home!  AMAZING!  A couple of days ago, we also saw a young guy riding a unicycle on the trail!  I wished I had gotten a photo!  He was too quick and I was too slow!
  • As I mentioned, the weather has been pretty hot.  People were complaining and we didn´t think it was that bad.  When we reached Villafranca, we checked into an albergue.  It was old but comfortable.  The temperature dropped a bit in the afternoon and everyone was happy.  I was starting to get a chill and put on a jacket.  When it was bedtime, my mom offerered her sleeping bag to me.  By the way, she hasn´t even used it!  She covers up with her silver emergency blanket and does well.  Anyway, that night ended up being FREEZING!  We realized that there was a 5 inch space along the floor.  The wind howled that night and needless to say we didn´t get much sleep.  When we left the next morning, I was wearing just about every piece of clothing I had.  I even had my face covered!  We decided to quit early that day and treat ourselves to our first Hotel!  They even had a TV!! LOL  It was so nice to have our own space and even a bathtub!  Both of us took a turn soaking in a hot bath :)  We needed the good rest, because the next day would be our steepest climb yet--O´Cebreiro.
  • For 4 weeks, I have been hearing about how steep the climb is to O´Cebreiro.  People were saying that they were going to ship their packs ahead and some were even going to skip the entire thing.  My mom kept telling me that I needed to take my time and go slow.  We started our ascent after my mom had a coffee and I had a Coke.  I don´t know what the big deal was!  I practically ran up the hill!  It felt so great after being in so much pain for so many weeks.  I kept thinking that it was going to get worse, but it never did.  I think we´ve done climbs that were longer and harder than this one.  But, it was a relief to get it done.
  • After O´Cebreiro, we decided to keep going.  We were coming to a town at the top of yet another mountain.  It was called Alto de Poio.  Geez!!  That was much worse than the last climb.  It was hot and there was no shade.  When we finally reached the top, we opted to stay at one of only two buildings in town.  It was an old hotel, but we didn´t care.  Again, we got a good night sleep and planned to leave earlier in the morning to beat the heat.    We hadn´t gone more than 2 miles when we saw a new albergue!  My mom had forgotten that it was there.  We were kinda bummed because it would have been nicer and cheaper than the hotel we chose--plus, we could have spent time with our Camino friends.  As we walked past, some pilgrims came out to join us.  They said that it was a terrible morning and were feeling pretty bad.  Apparently, four pilgrims had been robbed and $400 Euros had been stolen.  They said that everyone was mad and accusing each other.  Many were sad, because they hadn´t experienced anything like this and it put a damper on the Camino spirit.  I´m glad we decided to stay where we were.
  • On the same day, we had planned to walk all the way to Sarria--little did we know that would change.  So, the weather has been quite unpredictable during the last week.  First it was hot, then cold and now hot again.  A Red Alert (heat advisory) was issued this day for Spain.  It was all over the news and the Spanish people were suffering.  From what I could tell, the temperature reached 37 degrees Celcius which is 98 degrees Fahrenheit.  They said that it was the worst heat Spain has seen in 50 years!!  We had plenty of water and chose a mountain route which provided plenty of shade, so we weren´t worried.  As the day went on, we could feel the heat taking it´s toll on us.  Finally about 3pm and too far from Sarria, we just couldn´t take it anymore.  With heat exhaustion, we found a little mirage in the desert...a Pension!  A pension is the highest quality hotel.  We walked in with beet red faces and asked for water.  My mom also asked if they had any rooms available.  The lady said yes, but it would cost us $70 Euros ($100).  We looked at each other and decided against it.  Maybe we could rest and make it to the next town.  The lady quickly made another offer...$35 Euros!  We happily accepted and she showed us to our nice, clean, cool and private room!  During the night, it was very humid and so about 1:30am, my mom opened up the window.  We thought we could hear thunder and saw lightning in the distance. 
  • In the morning, it was definitely more humid and the heat was still there.  My mom had been telling me about a cute little bed & breakfast that she wanted to show me.  We arrived at 11:30am and called it quits for the day.  That is very, very early for us to be stopping--but we had already been walking for 5 hours!  When we arrived my clothes were completely saturated from sweat.  Fortunately, we had been drinking plenty of water flavored with electrolyte tablets.  The Casa Rural (B&B) was very cute and they treated us well.  They gave us our own little cottage and charged us only half of the original price :)
  • Again, we woke up extra early and planned to leave by 6am in order to beat the heat.  We would be walking thru the forest and it was very dark, so we opted to go back to bed for 45 minutes and wait for light.  When we finally were on our way, we were FREEZING!  We just kept saying over and over, how grateful we were that the heat was gone.  The fog was so thick and there was a mist in the air.  As we continued to walk, it began to rain but we didn´t mind it at all!!
  • It has been freezing cold ever since!  This morning, I had 3 shirts on with my rain jacket, my gloves, a face guard and my hat--and I was still cold!  The heat should be past us as we are nearing the coast.
  • Yesterday, we met a man from Madrid.  He is 82 years old and had walked all the way from Madrid to join the Camino trail!!  He´s full of energy and is an inspiration!
  • We are now in Palas de Rei and purposely stopped early so we could have access to the computers and phone.  
  • Yesterday, I dropped my camera while the lens was extended.  Unfortunately, it´s not working anymore :(  But, I still have my video cam which also takes still photos, so I should be good to go!
We will be home in about 10 days!  I can´t believe it´s almost over.  I was telling my mom this morning that I am missing home and ready to sleep in my own bed.  I´m sure, I will be missing the Camino life in a few months:)

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