June 8 – I was sleeping as well as can be expected in an albergue with surround-sound snorers, when somebody’s phone alarm went off at 5am. Then another one went off, and everybody got up and started making noise in the pitch dark. Sheesh! We’re only going nine miles today, and thought we’d sleep til at least 6:30 or so, but there’s no sleeping late in an albergue. The real hikers must be walking the additional four hours to the next town. By about 5:20, Jim leaned down into my bunk and invited me to meet him downstairs in the kitchen, and he would make us some coffee. When in Campobecceros, you do what the peregrinos do! The upshot is that I got some nice pix of the sunrise at 6am:
As what goes up, must come down, today’s hike was all downhill – back below the tree line.
Here’s some flora we haven’t seen before, thriving amid the rocks:
After walking about two hours, we came upon a little self-service support point run by Friends of the Camino, in a little town with no shops or services. We had a tepid cup of coffee from a thermos and a banana, and left a donation. What a nice gesture – the first we’ve encountered on this Camino. It reminded Jim of the Trail Angels who set out food for hikers on the Appalachian Trail back home.
Another beautiful day, nice and cool.
Before we knew it, we were on the last rocky downhill into Laza.
As we had no phone reception yesterday, we were unable to book a room for today, but we had high hopes for the Pension Blanco Conde. We breathed a sigh of relief to learn that we could have our own room, with towels, shampoo, and wifi! We have a beautiful view of the mountains and can hear the cowbells from the farm next door.
In Laza, you can walk your donkey down the main street:
What a lovely sunset from our bedroom window:
106 miles to go.
June 9 – We enjoyed our self-serve breakfast of coffee, juice, toast and yogurt, courtesy of our Pension, after a very good night’s sleep. Twelve miles planned for today. First few miles were along a highway with no shoulder and lots of cars. Some pulled into the middle to give us room, and some seemed to be playing chicken – aiming right at us til the last moment. Not my favorite way to start the day.
Now that we’re in Galicia, the language has changed (they speak Galego which is closer to Portuguese than Spanish) so that we are no longer on a Camino, but a Camiño. I was amused to see that someone had corrected all the signs to add the squiggle over the ‘n’.
There was another kick-butt uphill climb today, that had me drenched with sweat and breathing hard by the time we got to the top. Jim, always encouraging, walked ahead and called back, “We’re almost there! Just around this bend!” There were too many bends for me!
By midday we reached a little town with a bar that is famous on this Camiño. When we walked in, a Bruce Springsteen CD was playing, and the sound of home made me cry. The proprietor has absolutely covered every square inch of his establishment with Peregrino shells, signed by his customers. After our coffee, he gave us a shell and asked us to write our names on it. Heaven knows where he’ll find room to hang it. I wrote “Karen and Jim Virginia USA”. When I handed it back to him, he broke out in a big smile and said, “I have been to Caroleeña del Norte!” Small world.
With the kick-butt hill behind us, the rest of the hike was a dream, with scenery to match.
We got to Vilar do Barrio (the ‘de’ is now ‘do’ in Galego), where a Casa Rural is noted on our app. We tried to call last night, but got no answer – not a good sign. Sure enough, it was out of business, so we trudged on to the albergue. Our book said this albergue was new and modern, so I tried to hold back my negative albergue thoughts. It has 28 beds, in three dorms, and actually has a well designed women’s bathroom, with two toilets, three showers, and a sink (Jim said the men’s room was similarly appointed). No soap at the sinks though, which is kind of nasty. Also no blankets – the first time blankets have not been offered. We have our silky sheets – sure hope it doesn’t get cold tonight!
We walked across the street to the only restaurant, and Jim tried ordering in Spanish, which the proprietress couldn’t understand. The problem was further complicated by the fact that we couldn’t order separate dishes – the entree was served on one platter for both of us. We figured it out after a while. Just when you think you’ve got the hang of it… 94 miles to go.