Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Day 27. To the outskirts of Santiago. 24 miles

Day 27. O Empalme to San Marcos. Both directions. 24 miles.

Another catch up day for both of us.

Yesterday evening, though, was pretty wet. Torrential rain, in fact, for about 2 hours. We spent most of it the Refugio checking our emails, charging up our electric gadgets, and trying to book a ferry home. The Friday ferry from Gijon is fully booked, and there's not a convenient one from Santander or Bilbao at a reasonable price, so we've decide to drive through Northern Spain and up through France to catch the 12.30 fast ferry from Le Havre. The internet told me that it would be 14 hours driving. Plus, of course three overnight stops. Ah well, we should have booked the Gijon ferry a week or two ago, but at those stages we really weren't sure if we could keep to our schedule.

Eventually a slight gap in the rain let us scoot across the road to the Albergue that serves food. A torrent was running down the road. Great food - 3 courses plus a bottle of local wine for only €9 each.

The manager of the Albuergue said we could bring our sleeping bags inside to get out of the rain. At least I think that's what she meant. But in reality we were fine and dry in the tent.

Brendan set of walking about 8.25, which is quite late by pilgrim standards. Many of them leave by 6am. I think this may partly be due to the fact that the dorms are noisy. Later B texted to say that he'd caught up with someone we'd chatted to the night before - she'd left at 6. So despite a blister, he was making good progress. Slowing down doesn't reduce the pain level, so why not keep cracking on?

I had to take the tent down wet this morning, but was able pitch it again by mid morning in the San Marcos campsite just 7 km from Santiago cathedral. There are plenty of trees and there is a cafe. The rare two tame rabbits, a goose, a cockerel and a flock of chickens.

I cycled back along the main road to the point I'd reached yesterday, and had a coffee in the bright yellow painted O Ceadoiro Restaurante. There, a local man asked me if I was German or French. I said no. Was I Australian? South African? He spoke excellent English and though I did too! When I said I was Scottish, he told me about his month long holiday in a van in Scotland. He liked the whiskey the beer, the Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Edinburgh, and asked about the referendum. He said Scotland was expensive. Well, Spain is inexpensive as we have discovered.

Back to the campsite for a shower, and to do the clothes washing.

A sunny afternoon and the tent has dried out nicely.

One of the flawed tent pole sections is looking extremely dodgy, so it's probably just as well we are near the end of the trip.

Brendan texted to say he was at 11.5km from Santiago, and would I like to walk out to meet him. The campsite is 7km from Santiago, so you'd think we'd have met quite quickly. But we didn't. And the reason must be that there are two Camino diversions around here - one to avoid the airport, and another taking pilgrims off the old main road through Lavacolla by looping through Villamaior. An extra 4km at least. We met at Lavacolla, an B struggled on because he knew that if he stopped, that would be it. Meanwhile another thunder storm was brewing a few miles to the north. We got to the tent just before the rain started. The Camping Gaz stove is still holding out, enough to boil the kettle at least, so we had a cuppa and some pastries. When the rain goes off we might head down to the campsite cafe for a beer, and then we'll cook our evening meal.

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