Saturday 13 October 2018 – Day 4 of our journey on the Camino Inglés we will walk from O Mesón do Vento to Sigüero.
Guidebook = 30K (18 miles)
Me and Jeff = 36K (22 miles – because… of course it’s us)
Many guidebooks and online posts list this day as “easier” than the past 3 days. I think this can be a bit misleading because it is not a “walk in the park”. There are still many ups and downs to manage, and it is a significant distance. Perhaps the hills are not quite as steep as our previous walks [Read Days 1-3 here], however, this walk felt very long. I think in large part the exhaustion was due to the cumulative effect of walking so many kilometers/miles for so many hours and hours each day in a row. As a result, our bodies were feeling “well done” before we reached our destination today. It didn’t help that we wandered an additional 6 Kilometers off course. We took more “rest breaks” today than previous days, which allowed us to really breathe it all in and savor this pastoral stage.
THE SHORTCUT THAT WASN’T
Last night while our cheerful hotel manager was driving us through the rain from Bar Avelina to our hotel he pointed out the street we should take when we leave the village of O Mesón do Vento to get back to the Camino path and in his broken English explained we should turn at the “Futbol” sign. The author of our guidebook Johnnie is also my Facebook friend and personally messaged me some instructions.
We still managed to get lost.
The day started so great! We got up extra early while it was still dark, retrieved our freshly laundered, dried and folded clothes from the front desk [bless them!!] and headed out the door just in time to witness an incredible sunrise!
We were feeling so proud of ourselves for getting an early start. We imagined what great time we would be making today!
Oh, foolish souls.
Dear Future Pilgrims – here is the correct way to find the Camino from Hotel Canaima!
- Turn right when leaving the front door
- turn left at the first street (a pink building on the corner)
- turn right at the next street (with the “futball” street sign)
- KEEP WALKING – MOST important – until you see the Camino shell marker.
We did all the above except for #4… the KEEP WALKING part.
After 2 kilometers wandering down a long and winding road with no signs or markers in sight, we got nervous and decided we must have gone the wrong way. Neither of us felt like walking all the way back to where we started (which would now be uphill). So, with my confident sense of direction, I was certain we could walk on the tractor path to our right, through the grove of trees making a simple “shortcut” back to town – and possibly finding the Camino itself before we got there…
The reality is that after traipsing through the forest we made our way back to the other end of the village and walked an additional 5K – taking us in a giant circle right back to where we had started. And then we were walking back toward the road with the “futball” sign. At that point we met up with a group of seven cheerful Canary Islanders who walked with us back down the winding road – past the place that we had fatefully taken our “shortcut” an hour earlier… and in less than another 1 kilometer we found the Camino marker and were safely on our Way!
In the immortal words of Charlie Brown… *Good Grief*. Another misadventure that added a lot more steps to our Fitbit!! But, it makes a great story…
We enjoyed meeting and walking with our new Spanish Islander friends. Only one of them spoke English – but since he had studied in France he and Jeff had a nice chat speaking in French together. All of these men have been mates for years. After receiving permission from their wives, they planned this Camino to celebrate the retirement of one of their pals. They were a very lively group! We walked with them for about 30 minutes before they sped ahead while I stopped to take some photos. We saw them once again briefly during the day – and then our paths never crossed again. That is the nature of the Camino. People come and go along the way. You never know if you will ever see each other again – so, each moment is a gift.
A LITTLE EXTRA
People living in these small villages have a lot of creativity and a great sense of humor! Today’s favorite village decorated the Camino route with bizarre and hilarious items to cheer up the pilgrims. 🙂
I would love to know the backstory of how a giant dinosaur and an Ark on Wheels came to rest in the middle of this farmers field. There was no one around to ask.
AT ONE WITH THE LAND
Today offered a very scenic, pastoral experience that filled my soul with peace.
We met many amazing people. Several actually knew who I was since my “garbage rant” on our Camino facebook group had apparently gone viral. haha!
And yes, we continued to pick up trash along the way today (how could we stop now?). This had become our way to give back to the Camino. Our gift to those who will be walking in our footsteps tomorrow on this sacred land.
STEP BY STEP BY STEP…
The final 5 kilometers of this day was the hardest on us. Our feet were so tired, and our legs felt so heavy every step took concentration and will-power. After walking through the industrial side of the city Sigüero we came across a little picnic table in a public park – MIRACLE!! – where we practically collapsed. We took a long rest here, elevating our feet and drinking the last of our water before we could continue on. After following the yellow arrows through the city park, we were greeted with a lovely large map which showed where all of the lodgings can be found, and any other particular points of interest important for pilgrims – such as the pharmacy and grocery. (Praise and Thanks be!! We didn’t get lost or even have to take a single unnecessary step wandering to find our lodging!)
Tonight we stayed in a private room at Albergue Camino Real. This establishment offers communal bunk-bed sleeping upstairs with shared bathrooms, and it also offers a few private rooms for a higher rate. We were very glad that we pre-booked! There was no more room in the Inn for pilgrims who arrived while we were checking in and were told “completo!” each time [“completo” = completely full].
Our private room was spotless and very spacious with a private toilet and modern shower, comfortable gel mattress and soft bedding. There was even a welcome basket waiting for us on the bed with bath products and chocolates (that’s super fancy for an albergue)!
We showered, washed & hung our underwear and shirts to dry. Then we thought about getting something to eat. This Albergue has a large communal sitting room with an oversized kitchen that anyone can use. The delightful owner has even stocked the table with a bounty of fruits, vegetables, bread, and pastries – and the refrigerator with juices, milk, etc – all free for the pilgrims! (soda and beer require a small fee) This was lovely. However, we were so exhausted at this point we decided it required too much energy to even leave our room. We went to bed without any supper, falling into a deep sleep to the sound of rain outside the window.
Tomorrow, we will reach our destination of the holy city of Santiago! All too soon we will come to the end of our pilgrimage, and I am feeling utterly bereft thinking this beautiful journey must end. Jeff and I have completely fallen in love with Spain and walking the Camino has been everything we wished for, and much more. If only we could stay longer! However, I know the longer we stay, the harder it will be to leave.
For now, we hold on to every blessed moment step by step.
¡Buen Camino! – Holly
Watch the Video!
I know by this point you must have been exhausted if you went to bed without supper. You poor things. But, at the same time I know you’ve been fed spiritually. When I looked at that picture of the sheep, the first thing I thought was the 23rd Psalm. The Lord is my Shepherd. He is and he was your Shepherd, leading you every step of the way. I couldn’t possibly make that journey. Maybe when I was young. In my 30’s and 40’s I used to walk for exercise 5 miles a day most days. It helped keep me in shape, and I think, back then, I might have been able to do it. But, those days are far behind me. I’m lucky to make it through the grocery store without sitting to rest. One more day of your journey, if I understood you correctly. This has really been an interesting trek. Looking forward to the finish. Love you, Lynne
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Oh, I agree – we were definitely being led every step of the way! Even when we were “lost”… (especially) The Shepherd was there.
One thing about the Camino is that it is no respecter of persons regarding age, gender, status or physical prowess. There are multiple pilgrims every month completing multiple distances in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond.
There is currently a documentary of a man who walked the 500 mile Frances route with stage 4 cancer – his final bucket list . There is a documentary of a courageous man bound to a wheelchair who was pushed and pulled by his superhuman friend. The Camino is a place for miracles, and personal transformations of all kind. Those who are called to walk, are given the Way to accomplish it!