I had some nice conversations with a German mother-and-daughter team last night, as well as a very pleasant Canadian-woman-born-in-Malaysia named Hilda, of all things. All pilgrims. Yesterday was strange. Today has been strange. I think my experience on the beach has taken some processing, a fine point of embarkation for contemplating this trip as a whole. Of course, these last two days I have not dealt with any rain. Obviously, if I had elected to camp it would have poured. I have enjoyed the last two days, they have been low mileage, early, and mellow.
I did have a little excitement this morning- I had stayed up late snacking and looking up song lyrics, for I have been singing lately. Songs crop up in my mind, whose lyrics I cannot entirely recall. The process of recording lyrics for future noise pollution led me down a reminiscent rabbit-hole, keeping me up until almost midnight watching music videos from the late 90’s/early 2000’s. I slept in until about nine, casually roused myself and organized my gear. I grabbed my book and headed down to the adjoining restaurant for a coffee, planning to while away an hour. I passed the reception desk and decided to ask what time checkout was. “What room are you in?” “106.” Ooh, checkout was at 9:00…” Woah! Mad dash. I evacuate well ahead of the maids and it is no problem. An early start… The riding is similar to yesterday, hilly but pleasant. I kept thinking I could have made it to Santiago yesterday, but I know it would have been awful. I am very glad I lodged on Calda de Rei, and I felt well rested today. I rolled into Santiago about one o’clock, very early, but check-in is at 12:00, and they had space available.
I have been snacking. I bought a bag of chips, a four-pack of ice-cream cones, like drumsticks (ice cream is cheaper in bulk), a spinach and cheese microwave dinner, and some chocolate tea crackers. I ate most of this. I am not looking for judgement here, I manufacture enough in-house; I was feeling bloated and unhappy as I driftedto sleep. Obviously I am processing a little stress, and also dealing with some down time, poorly. However, I woke up, pooped, and noticed that I was skinny as a rail and hungry. Awesome.
I did get out and walk around, which is nice. This trip has a great pace, weeks in each country, but there is an acute sense of transience. I am not experiencing this city, I am passing through, sleeping, running errands.
Today I walked around a lot. For an hour or two, I simply wandered around, being here, taking it in, people watching, looking in every window, reading every sign. I was also waiting for a bicycle shop to open- 2.5 hour lunch, open again at 3:30, til 8:00, that’s the life!- I buy five bolts. I ask about a replacement piece for my Ortlieb pannier. He has one! But it is not exactly the same, and I am not sure it will work. I was so skeptical about finding one that I didn’t bring the bag with me. The shop is a long way from the hostel, I will return and see how I feel. There is always tomorrow. Santiago, the end: of the beginning!
The Cathedral complex is huge. It is a Cathedral, a monastery, a university, all enfortressed, by the looks of it. I was not impressed much as I entered the city, but the old town is impressive. I walked the complex, but did not enter the cathedral, as it costs 12 euros! There is a pilgrim mass at twelve tomorrow, which is free, I may attend. I ought to!
The hostel I am staying at is called “Roots and Boots.” It is pretty cool.
There were already the gear of three pilgrims sprawled out when I got there, so I am top-bunking it tonight! Full house.
My “sheets” are coverlets for the pillow and linen sheets… dare I use the blanket? I think not. It is a matter of much speculation as to when last the linens were washed… Other than that, it is a nice hostel with a garden, a nice kitchen, lovely views, a cool building, and interesting people! Right now I am sitting with the delegation from Germany, six of them who all met on the Camino. They are having a good time, but they are also irked by this; they travel to get outside their country, but here they find a great deal of home! There is also a Spaniard, Jorge, a world traveller I have not talked with much yet. I talked at length with one of my two German roommates, part of the delegation, who wants to hike the Pacific Crest Trail next year which I highly recommended. His name is Jörn, not sure about the spelling. My longest conversation thusfar has been with Anga, who is possessed of a very keen mind. I had stopped in to eat some dinner in the common room and she immediately struck up a stimulating conversation that kept us both occupied for some pleasant hours.
When I bought my bolts, I forgot to buy chain-cleaner! I really need to clean the bike. I went to a Decathlon nearby, a store one part Big 5 and one part REI, but they were a small city outlet and I did not find what I need. Tomorrow, early, I will return to the bike shop across town with my pannier and obtain some chain cleaner, hopefully some rags as well…
I have also developed a rash on the tops of both my hands. This was happening a bit on my training trip in January. I was ignpring it a bit, but it has only gotten worse. After extensive and largely fruitless research, in which I wondered whether I have a strange allergy to sun, cold, the air, or vibrations (it’s a thing), I have discovered it is simply a “winter rash,” caused by wind, essentially. The oils and air dry out my hands and for some reason, they react in an immune response. So, I am breaking out my handy dandy vaseline, slathering my hands with the stuff a couple times a day and it is better. I thought about buying some lighter gloves, but haven’t bitten yet. It’s pretty bad though, my left hand in particular, which is itching pretty bad right now, inflamed by the alcohol, I think.
Yeah, super attractive. You’re welcome. Maybe I should buy those gloves, huh?
Other than the hands, I feel good. It is supposed to rain the next week at least, but so far it has been pleasant. I am unsure of my path through Spain, which I had better figure out… Northern Spain is very mountainous, but also forested, so camping should be readily available. I do not trust the weather to hold. I see little point in following a pilgrim path in reverse as well; at the very least, it holds no particular appeal to me.
As for Fisterre, the end of the world: I discovered the actual Westernmost point is Southwest of Sintra, down South. Do I really need to go out to the coast and double back? The answer is “NO.” I am enjoying my trip, but I am going to do this my way. I am in the dark, I learn much as I go, and my plans will adapt.
For now, I am considering heading towards Madrid and on to Barcelona… I had better figure it out! It will probably help my schedule as well… I am getting some great advice from these Germans, in fact! Along with a potential hangover- magnificent. I must store up these interactions, for I have many protracted periods of aloneness, gand loneliness, ahead.
Morning: I meant to post this last night, but, two of the Germans, Jörn and Johnny and I rallied pretty hard. We ordered a late night pizza, ate it, then made sandwiches. We probably got to bed around 1:00. It is raining heavily right now, and the concierge man warns me against going to Fisterre, the road is dangerous. Don’t have to tell me twice! I need to go to bed earlier. I only have an hour before I must be on my way, which is good, because I only have two hours to make the bike shop. I am almost certain the part will not fit, but I need to try.
Yes, this is the rain I have been expecting. I still do not know which route I will choose through Spain. The hilly route is beautiful, I am told. It looks like good camping, and I will likely meet more people, though the influx of pilgrims will swarm soon on the more popular French Way. (There are alburgues for pilgrims here in Santiago that have 400 beds, six hundred beds, in just a few rooms… crazy!) So, on to León, Spain, along my original route for now. It is really wet. “If it ain’t rainin’ I ain’t trainin’!”