Camino de Santiago: Días 20-23

Note: The WiFi in the last few albergues has been contingent upon possession of a Spanish cell phone number, which I do not have. Hence, I have not had WiFi in forever. Hence squared, this all happened days ago. Also, shit has been happening, etcetera. But here we are now!

The Anti-Productivity Walk/Write/Chat Corrolary

Four days have gone by since I last wrote on my daily Camino de Santiago blog! Going from a period of relative productivity to its polar opposite generally means that I’ve made friends and have thus shunned all other activities in favor of my most favorite one, Chatting.

My problem with writing has always been the preference for gaining material rather than creating it. I could sit in the hostel and write a blog post, pontificate on life, and fall asleep reading Emerson. Alternatively, I could go out con nuevos amigos to a bar in a tiny town in Spain and get tipsy on Estrella Damms and eat a dinner of tapas for absolutely free, with the intention of using lessons incurred from said jaunt in future times and tomes.

Clearly, the latter transpired, as I mentioned in the previous posts, and so I’ve spent the week walking with a less-offensive local who shares my affinity for hiking, as well as stopping frequently for sodas and coffee. Additionally, though, the weather got rather shitty, and I got sick. A recipe for no blogs.

Rapid Fire Summary of the Last Four Days

DAY 20

Trajectory: El Acebo à Cacabelos

Distance: 17.9 miles, or 28.6 kilometers

Gorgeous weather, slightly chilly. Basically flat terrain. A fine and uneventful day that doesn’t require a full story. The woman at the hostel in Cacabelos didn’t believe that we’d walked that super average distance in one day.

DAY 21

Trajectory: Cacabelos à Ruitelan

Distance: 18.5 miles, or 29.6 kilometers

SNOW DAY! The peninsula got “smacked” with a snowstorm! As a person who grew up with actual winters, I can assure you that it was a decent amount of snow that wouldn’t have even made it to evening rush hour in New York. We headed out in the morning against the advice of the television, newspaper, and every person in a five kilometer radius. As with the Appalachian Trail, every person we passed was a harbinger of doom. “You’re going to have to take a cab!” “You’re never going to make it up the hill!” “You should take three days off!” Very uplifting. In fact, walking in snow is far less miserable than walking in rain, with the added bonus of pretty pictures.

This is not to say I love walking in snow, or that I was in any way pleased with the succession of weather events. The snow became the oft-feared “wintry mix” and we made it to Ruitelán, but just barely. There hadn’t been anywhere to buy food, so this 30-kilometer day was powered by a king-size chocolate bar split between two people. I had flashbacks to the Smokies.

DAY 22

Trajectory: Ruitelán à Triacastela vía Hospital da Condesa

Distance: 18.1 miles, or 28.9 kilometers

Miles on Foot: 9.3 miles, or 15 kilometers

Miles in Taxi: 8.8, or 14.1 kilometers

This was definitely the worst day of this walk, and probably the worst day of any walk I’ve ever been on. The first 10 kilometers of the day were to be a KNEE-crushing, SOUL-breaking, HEART-stopping ascent to the town of O’Ceibreiro. It wasn’t, actually, but everyone has been saying that for the last two weeks so I thought I’d say it, too. It was about 2100 feet net elevation gain over six miles, which isn’t generally awful.

HOWEVER:

Within the first five minutes of the day, we were soaked through from head to toe. The entire Camino was covered with inescapable icy-slush puddles that seeped into our trail runners and poured over our ankles into the shoes. Numb does not describe the lack of feeling; frightened frigidity could work better. It was hailing, then raining, then snowing, and then raining again, all through a sharp wind that dredged up the snow and made visibility impossible.

We slogged through the ascent, making it to O’Ceibrero, where we desperately sought out a bakery to buy bread to make sandwiches with the meat and cheese we’d bought. To no avail. We didn’t want to stop because we still had 17ish kilometers and morale was beyond low. Body temperatures were also beyond low.

After the morning’s weather horrors, we opted to walk on the highway parallel to the Camino, thinking the solid ground would be perhaps less miserable. Cars, driven by kamikazes who had no fear of black ice or hydroplaning, zoomed by, gunning the engine when they passed us as though taunting our sad sack selves. We finally arrived in Hospital da Condesa, where we found a café that had café, and also bread. Refuge was sought.

After an hour and a half, we were still shivering and soaked, and the executive decision to take a cab to Triacastela was made. I regret skipping the Presidentials. I do NOT regret taking a taxi, especially since I arrived at the hostel shivering and burning up, full fever mode. Also, my stomach was leading a rebellion against its contents, though a war wouldn’t break out until the next day. Whether or not the fever and stomach issue were interrelated, I know not. What I do not is I felt like death, and was dreading the following day. We spent the afternoon and evening next to a fireplace, me huddled in my sleeping bag feeling ultra-pathetic.

DAY 23

Trajectory: Triacastela a Sarria

Distance: 15.3 miles, or 25.4 kilometers

I woke up to blue-grey skies and a slightly abated fever, though my stomach was doing things that were making me really nervous to go away from indoor plumbing. The day was a bizarre juxtaposition of enchanted forests with moss-covered trees à la LOTR, and me trying to make it from town to town without shitting my pants. That’s the simplest way to put it.

We got to Sarria and debated whether or not to make moves. I was hardcore fevering, and not well overall, so I opted for staying put.

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