Sarria to Portomarin
“Perspective is everything when you are experiencing the challenges of life”
Today’s walk was a whole new ball game. Sarria is considered the starting point for those doing the final 100km of the Camino (it’s actually a bit more) and is therefore absolutely throbbing with activity. All manner of pilgrims commence their journey from here: it’s a melting pot of nationalities on a far grander scale than anything we’ve experienced in the first four and a half weeks.
There are sizeable school parties of Spanish teenagers, bubbly and chatting nineteen to the dozen. There are larger groups of people walking together than we’ve seen prior to now. All sorts of different languages and accents can be heard. I talked about the variety of nationalities we had come across in the initial stages of the Camino; you can now multiply it by ten. Or more. There are coaches appearing a number of kilometres into the walk, perhaps offloading their party of peregrinos. We didn’t see anyone disembark or climb on board, however, so their purpose remains a mystery.
As we walked along I was trying to think what it reminded me of, then it hit me : a marathon. Throughout the route there were always people in front of us and always people behind us. You wound your way between bodies, sometimes overtaking, sometimes being overtaken. You could see people way out in front and others way behind. It was like that for the entire journey. On the Meseta you could have walked for hours barely seeing a soul! It’s a very vibrant, noisy atmosphere which is entirely different from what we’ve been used to up till now.
We arrived, despite the crowds, in very good time, checked into our hotel, showered and had lunch. We then relaxed on the balcony of the bar area with a light refreshment, enjoying the marvellous view in baking hot sunshine. From our vantage point we could see a few walkers who have elected to keep going, perhaps to an albergue equidistant between Portomarin and our next stop, Palas De Rei. Whatever their plans, it’ll be thirsty work – the sky is cloudless and the temperature has to be in the eighties.
Our route today took us upwards as we departed Sarria and headed into a wood filled with the usual winding paths and all manner of strangely shaped trees. At times the branches formed a canopy to walk under, which was beautiful, with the sunlight breaking through at points to dapple the ground. Unsurprisingly there were lots of fields filled with different types of cattle. As well as the usual suspects, we came upon a herd with the biggest sets of horns I’ve ever seen. There was actually a sign telling you their name, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to note it down or photograph it. Duh! There is, however, a photo of the cows. I’m sure you’ll agree, they’re serious horns!
You enter Portomarin by crossing a very tall bridge which spans a reservoir in serious need of replenishment. The town itself is very nice, and we’ve just enjoyed a couple of beers with the new Scots arrivals, Louise, Anne Marie, Sarah, Scott, Jessica and Olivia. Today was their first walk of the Camino, and they sailed through it effortlessly! Morale is high for tomorrow’s visit to Palas De Rei. All good!
Today’s album track is a reworking of “The Long Road” by Byron Crowdaughter and “Gypsy” Egan. It seems that both have been following the blog and, for some inexplicable reason (my money’s on excess alcohol) agreed to get together and adapt the original lyrics to reflect the travails of Carolyn and her ongoing battle with Blistardo. This might hurt. A lot.