May 30, 2007

5/30/07 Ventas de Naron

"You cannot travel on the path until you become the path itself."

This morning I stepped out of the refugio into the cold rain. I think we are beginning a pattern here in Galicia. Such beautiful country-side despite the rain.

Much like the last could of days, I could see patches of blue sky, just not where we were going. It rained, sprinkled or otherwise misted us the whole way down into the valley.

Walking in the rain

Portomarin was a shock to me. When I was here five years ago, the lake had so little water in it, it was more a stream. You could even see the original foundations of the original town along the streams edge. But today, the water comes all the way up to the shoreline of the new town. Wow.

Where did all that water come from?

I ran into Judy and Kathi again so we stopped in town to get something hot to drink. By the time we came back out, the sun had begun to win the battle with the clouds. And while it was still cooler, at least it wasn't raining any more and there were brief periods of sunshine.

Not a bad way to travel

I guess I wasn't expecting it, but I was shocked to come to a huge group of pilgrims ahead. I mean dozens and dozens. Everyone seemed to have taken a break in Gonzar for morning coffee. But I couldn't figure out where they all came from. Our refugio only held 22, and we were the last refugio 10km from Portomarin.

Word came that the hordes had turned to a flood in the albergues in Portomarin and I was just catching the last stragglers out of town. Just too many people.

The land was changing as we near Santiago

But I did get to see Jill and Syd again. They had gotten lost coming out of Samos, and arrived at all the refugios too late for a bed. They ended up walking almost 40km to Portomarin. I'm glad they are ok, I was a bit worried about them.

I tried to put some distance between me and the larger groups on the Camino for some solitude. My plan was to stay in Hospital de la Cruz but arrived to find it closed for the year. Nothing much left to do but keep walking.

An enterprising farmer

I love good surprises. Ventas de Naron was only a couple of kilometers down the road. My guidebook said there was nothing here, but luck would have it that there are two private albergues, a bar and a restaurant. What a great oasis. Judy and Kathi thought so too.

My Spanish always makes a good impression on my hosts and the senora at the Bar Plaza Albergue was happy to speak with me. She said she usually gets real busy for a couple of hours as the pilgrims stream through, but then it slows down in the afternoon.

After lunch, had a long talk with Kathi. She said she and Judy are retired teachers. And she has been lifelong resident of Alaska, while Judy originally came from back East. Kathi too has heard the Dalai Lama speak in Seattle and while she doesn't call herself a Buddhist, she definitely sees the benefits of the philosophy.

This is how we wash clothes - a wash board

Even though the clouds have mostly gone, the winds seem to be from the arctic. Just to walk around the village, I put on my fleece jacket and then still needed my rain coat for added warmth. I'm sure I'll need extra blankets tonight. Brrr.

Had a wonderful dinner in the bar. Our host was so proud of his home wine, he exchanged the bottle we were drinking for dinner with a pitcher of his from the cask. Good stuff. The husband and wife who run the albergue/bar are also farmers (I saw the husband working earlier in his farmer coveralls). Such nice, warm people always with a smile.

I'm glad I stopped here. Makes the continued journey tomorrow a little easier, and a little more joyful.