Everything I have carried got completely soaked today. Even now, several hours after arriving at the albergue, most of my stuff is damp or still totally wet. I walked in the rain all day. Not drizzling rain like yesterday, but a steady downpour at it’s nicest and a cold, blowing, horizontal spirit-crushing torrent at its worst. I walked only about 12 kilometers today, but it feels like forever.
It was all uphill, until the last four, which began the downhill descent from O Cebreiro. According to my guidebook, O Cebriero is supposed to offer beautiful mountain views, but I have no idea what it looks like because all I saw was clouds and rain when I got up there. I did get some lunch, though. It was cabbage soup and it was warm and good. The place had a sign that said “No Credit Cards” and I thanked Dad again for sending me cash. I needed to be in a dry, warm place with hot food before I continued on. It was tough and pretty miserable at times, but! I’m officially in Galicia now!
I still have about a week of walking, but I’m in the same province as Santiago de Compostela now! I hope it’s not this rainy every day. We all knew that Galicia was a cold and wet place, but this was ridiculous. I’m not sure my shoes will be dry by the time I set back out on the trail tomorrow morning. I’m at a state-run albergue tonight. It’s not got food nearby, so my dinner is trail mix, water, and a bit of bread. But it does have a dryer! For three euro, I was able to dry my clothing, hallelu. There aren’t very many pilgrims here yet, but I expect it to begin to get crowded as people make it over the mountain. This is my first stay in a government albergue and it’s very sterile, but fewer rules than were at the private refugio last night. Nobody that I met last night is here. Maybe they all stay in private places? The owner of the refugio didn’t disappoint us this morning with his music selections as our wake-up/you can move around alarm. He started with “Ave Maria” and then segued into Gene Kelly’s “Good Morning” while I ate breakfast. It was really sort of lovely. It was a freezing night and I didn’t sleep much at all, because of the cold more than the loudly snoring Germans, but the community of pilgrims last night was a good memory that I will take with me as I continue. I saw several of them today and I know many were planning to continue walking on to the next town up the camino from here. I’m at a place called Hospital de la Condessa. There was an ancient pilgrim’s hospital here, but now it’s hardly anything but this municipal albergue.
Some folks are really comfortable here in this communal living kind of thing. For instance, some people are really comfy with just changing clothes in the middle of the dorm, a man just went to the toilet without closing the door, and people just wander around half-clothed. I’m not that comfortable with this sort of living arrangement. This albergue has heaters, which the fellow at the desk says will turn on at 7 pm. I’m ready! I think everyone is. We were all so cold and wet all day long. There’s a lot of time to think on the Camino, especially walking alone. Today everyone was walking alone. I didn’t see people grouped up at all. It seemed like people were just trying to navigate the mountain and get to shelter where they had planned. Today was the first day I really missed home. Walking in the deep mud and trying to see through the rain made me question what the hell I’m doing here. This is an emotional experience for a lot of people. It’s a lot to process. Nobody I’ve met so far has a real reason why they’re out here doing this. At least not that they’ve shared. It seems like we’re all just here walking. A lot of the younger pilgrims are out of work. Many of the older pilgrims are retired. They all have the time to walk. I’m one of the very few that has a job and a timetable that constrains me to a certain schedule. Most pilgrims are very free time-wise to walk this. Krista was a scuba diving teacher who is between jobs. Alex from Denmark said he just needs to be back in Denmark by Christmas. One of the Germans said the same thing. She just wants to be home by Christmas to spend it with her family. I know several of the older pilgrims are missing their families. The Aussie I met last night at dinner was missing her son a lot. It’s a lot to ask of yourself to walk across a foreign country, but it’s asking a lot of your family, too, because they don’t really know where you are all the time or how you’re doing, or if you’re okay. One wrong step out here and you’ve got a broken foot or ankle and there isn’t cellular service in all of these remote woods and pathways.
Today was a challenge, and tomorrow looks to be more of the same. More downhill. The downhill hurts so much. I think perhaps a blister on my little pinky toe popped beneath the compeed bandage. I hope that’s okay. It hurt so much when it happened, it stopped me right in my tracks. But, you can’t remove that compeed very easily, so I’m just trying to rest my feet as much as I can and hope that it is okay.
Despite being so cold and rainy, I’m still really grateful at being able to do this and keep smiling despite the miserable weather. It’s still pretty awesome to be here and to be able to walk this ancient route.