Sep 262013

September 2013

DSC_4755Day 1 – 21 miles or 33.8 kilometers – Way toooo much – and I will explain why eventually

No wi-fi. (Wee fee in Spanish)

We started in Sarria. The Camino is a lot like walking a charity event. You encounter people through out the day over and over depending on how fast everyone walks. You always greet people with Hola and Buen Camino.

If you notice someone speaks your language you may walk a few blocks and talk about where are your from? Where did you start? How long have you been at this?

There are many beautiful vistas along the way and a lot of great photographic moments, that is what you expect. What you don’t expect is the stench. This is the season for the manure cocktail of pig shit and water that they spray on all the fields for natural fertilizer. I truly have built up a whole new library of olfactory discoveries. This is farm land, cows wander aimlessly, horses poop in the road, your senses are assaulted all day long.


The next thing you don’t realize is flies. With that much shit everywhere there are flies. Eventually I kept thinking I looked like Pig Pen, I didn’t exude dust as much as clouds of flies.

When you are exhausted what you want to know is who hates you so much to send thousands of flies to hover around your body and constantly fly into your ears. Julie suggested this was part of the penance one pays on the Camino and maybe we should pray for them to go away (like that was gonna work). I on the other hand was way to busy praying for cold water and cold beer.

The other thing that made today so tough is the weather. We started out pretty good. Due to the latitude the sun doesn’t come up until 8. We headed out about 7:30 and it was already hot and humid. It stayed that way until about 5:00 and then it started to rain, then it stared to pour.


I sit here tonight with absolutely everything in my possession in some type of dampness. Even my ipad cover is wet, and it was buried deep in my pack. Fortunately, ipad, phone and even camera (which I eventually buried in my pack as I was getting freaked out about the amount of water coming down) are fine. This is a good thing as this part of Spain is suffering a terrible drought, but really – hiking soaked to the bone for hours is not fun for anyone.


The reason we did way to much…Most pilgrims go from Sarria to PortoMarin. We could not get into a decent hotel in PortoMarin, so Julie booked us into a hotel in Gonzar. According to Booking.Com Gonzar was only another 1.8 kilometers away. Unfortunately we discovered the hard way that Gonzar was actually 11.8 kilometers, or 7 extra miles away. Then when we got to Gonzar we learned that she had booked us into a hotel another 51 miles away. So on the advice of a Spaniard in Gonzar we walked one more kilometer to a pension in some town that isn’t even listed on the map. This was NOT Julie’s fault, the hotel was listed in the wrong place. Lesson – don’t trust the internet bookings at

When we arrived at the end of that last kilometer there was ABSOLUTELY no one at the Pension. I had a tad more stamina so I walked ahead. I saw a sign for Bar/Cafe so headed there to see if anyone could tell us about someplace to stay nearby.

I was greeted by four people that said Hello, not Hola, but Hello. I explained that we were in a bind, with no hotel and an American gentleman (from New Mexico) jumped up, grabbed my hand and said I’ll take care of you. He said that the pension he and his beautiful wife were staying at had one room with three beds. Apparently some Americans had come, looked in, deemed it unsatisfactory and left. The room was paid for, the owner had gone home, and as we both agreed, all us American’s look alike and she would never be the wiser.

We then had a delightful dinner at the restaurant. The other two women were French, with excellent English. The owner/chef/waitress, Flora, took care of the 6 of us as though we were family. $30 Euros and THAT included a bottle of red wine and a beer.

DSC_4769Essentially – that is what the Camino is about, Doing good deeds for fellow travelers. Chatting, talking and just enjoying strangers company.

As far as walking that far. Yes we were both exhausted. We had a good breakfast at the hotel before leaving, but we only stopped once the entire day and that was for water. It isn’t easy there is a LOT of up and down, hard granite roads, interspersed with pavement and dirt roads. However, we had lots of mole skin for our blisters and fortunately some power bars readily available.

I would not recommend ever going that far in one day on the Camino, but it is proof that if two little old ladies can do it in a pinch, anyone can.

Today’s theme : Biting off more than you can chew and then being rescued by the unexpected.