“There is an uphill for every downhill, and a downhill for every uphill.”
For most of today we found ourselves watching the menacing dark clouds which seemed almost certain to unleash torrents of rain upon us sooner or later. We had set off from O Porriño at just after 9.30 am, certain, as per the forecast, that the waterproofs would inevitably be called upon before we’d got very far. Needless to say, there was no sunshine, but it was extremely clammy (or close, as my gran would say), so you were still walking in a t shirt, with your goretex gear on standby.
Amazingly we got to midday with no worse than some smirry rain. The route was a combination of wooded paths and sharply ascending tarmac/cobbled roads, by far the steepest on this Camino. I don’t actually recall climbing for periods as consistently long on the Francés route either. The really unpleasant sections were, however, the acute descents, which were particularly hard on your feet. And calfs. And thighs. And knees. Still, the views you were afforded at the highest points as we approached our destination of Arcade were quite spectacular, looking across the water to the forests on the other side.
As we made our way out of O Porriño and through the villages of Mos (lovely), Vilar Da Infesta ( much nicer than it sounds) and Saxamonde (also nice), we passed the granite boulder dedicated to local mountaineers and the first Galician to summit Mt. Everest. I can’t remember his name, I’m afraid. Something that really tickled us, however, was the number of houses which, as well as having their letterbox in the wall beside the entrance gate (they were pretty smart looking houses), had a larger box entitled “pan” where the baker can deposit their delivery of freshly baked bread. How good is that? I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that the boxes the bread falls into have little heaters in them so that when it’s collected it’s nice and warm! (Could this be a Dragon’s Den moment?)
We reached the fairly sizeable and attractive town of Redondela before one o’clock, still, as I said, unsoaked. Forty minutes later, having had lunch, the rain came on as promised. For ten minutes. And that was pretty much it. The route continued to undulate relentlessly, but it never became so demanding as to spoil the day (we expected the rain to do that). This part of the country contains a huge amount of Camino stone crosses and of ”horreos”. These look like stone huts on stilts, often beautifully created with small carvings beneath the apex roof. They date back hundreds of years and their purpose was to keep the freshly harvested corn cool and inaccessible to rodents. They are so efficient that some continue to be used today exactly as they were centuries ago. Some are, on the other hand, used for decoration only. The things you learn via the blog!
Having fetched up in Arcade at about three o’clock (we were really pleased with that), we then spent half an hour looking for our hotel (this was extremely frustrating – that’s the sanitised version). We’re now sitting out on the balcony – yes, a two star hotel with a balcony providing a panoramic view over the village, across the water to another village on the other side, whose name I don’t know. And the sun’s come out! From where I’m sitting I can also see the remains of a large beer and a packet of Doritos! As if by magic, that view will once again be of a full glass of beer, with perhaps more Doritos! And gin and olives for Carolyn (less appealing). This will, however, involve a trip down to the bar for some verbal wrestling with the proprietor/barman who speaks no English. Not to worry- I am an accomplished orderer of large beers in four languages (only beer admittedly).
I had planned on concluding today’s blog here and now, but my navigator insists that I recount the unfortunate incident that occurred on our first night in O Porriño when, upon returning to our hotel following a very pleasant meal with a few glasses of the local wine, I was ambushed by a malevolent perspex table while exiting the “snack bar”. Thanks to my dexterous roll as I hit the ground, no harm befell either me or the table, although I did have some concerns about Carolyn, as she commenced gasping, sobbing and emitting high pitched shrieks which appeared to indicate extreme amusement rather than any alarm as to potential injury to me. Or my self esteem.
I’d omitted to mention it earlier because it just didn’t seem that funny. The proprietor certainly wasn’t laughing. He started shouting at one of the staff in Spanish, something along the lines of “Get rid of this immediately before the acrobat comes to his senses and decides he’s going to hit the hotel with a health and safety violation claim!” He was very nice to me at breakfast the next morning, where we noticed that the undamaged table had been tucked out of harm’s way in a corner of the room. So now you know. And it has just started raining. Spanish weather, eh?
Today’s album track is “Elegantly Wasted” by INXS. This is simply because it’s a good song and not because it relates in any way to events recounted in this blog…..Thank you and goodnight.