Day 30 (33km)
Sarria – Gonzar
We awake to wet streets and a light rain. It appears that the rain gear and pack covers we have been carrying since St. Jean will be put to good use (like that’s a good thing). Upon reflection, I can’t help but notice a pattern to our adventures. Our later days always appear to be marked by rain. Our last two days on the PCT…rain. The last two days of our fishing trip in Ontario…rain. My Alaskan fishing trip… rain. The last week of the Camino…RAIN! Definitely a pattern.
For the last two days we have been traveling exclusively with Dave from New Brunswick. We’ve hit it off rather well with him and we’ve become, dare I say, close friends. He is a remarkable character. He thinks of us as being “quite adventurous” and a little “crazy”, I’d say that’s a case of the pot calling the kettle just more than a little black. He set off on the Camino at the behest of his wife. Got dropped off somewhere between Roncesvalles and Pamplona and was directed by the cabbie who dropped him, ” walk that way”, and you’ll run into the Camino. Of course he was told this in Spanish, and Dave doesn’t speak a lick of it. He also did not know there were maps of the Camino, nor did he know he should have a “credential”. He has experienced a significant amount of sorrow and trauma in his life, but you wouldn’t know it unless he told you. He is an eternal optimist. He is equipped with his daughters pack and sleeping bag that she used on the PCT this last season. He hikes in jeans, a button down shirt and wears a “signature” yellow breeze breaker that he got from a hardware store for $2. As stated before, he does NOT have a stitch of rain gear, save, a floppy hat and the poncho his sister provided, that he refuses to wear. This man’s faith is strong. I hope it is strong enough to stave off the rain. As luck would have it, and to add an additional degree of difficulty, my back decides to seize as I apply my rain cover to my pack. Well this should be fun, with a capital “F”. A little “hee” breathing (playing sports and childbirth have served me well in painful situations such as this), help with the pack, cinch it down tight, and we are off.
Once on trail we are taken over by a lumbering herd of obvious “newbies” with their shiny new shoes, poles and flowing ponchos. They race by us like the obstacles we are and charge up the rain slick and muddied cobbled hill.
While it’s not really raining, the wind is wicking the cloud mist and water off the tree’s leaves upon us. It is not cold at all, which is a relief. The air is soft on our exposed skin and the terrain is fairly easy on the feet and knees, switching between pavement and fine crushed rock. Our first opportunity for coffee is a “bust” as the “herd”, and a bus have beaten us to it, and the joint is filled to capacity. Our hope now is that if we continue on another 2-3km we will leave the herd behind. Success! As it goes the rest of the day, we stay just ahead of the herd, and leave each respite stop just as they arrive. The rain is incessant and comes at us from our left with a vengeance.
There is no escape…unless you are a cow. We are wet, even through our rain gear. We laugh. No point fighting it. Just embrace it. Again, it could be worse…we could be cold. I take a good fall and slide for a couple of feet on my butt. With about 5 more feet to go down a slick rock surface, I don’t even try and stand up. I just continue sliding (purposely) on my butt… why stop now. 16km later, the rain abates enough to begin drying out. The scenery is epic. This Spanish countryside reminds me of large horse ranches in Kentucky.
By the time we reach Portomarín, we are dry (except for our feet) thanks to a stiff wind blowing down Rio Miño.
I lean into the wind like a ski jumper hoping not to be blown off this ridiculously high bridge.
For most peregrinos, Portomarín will be their stop. We, on the other hand, have decided to continue onto Gonzar, on recommendation of one of Dave’s “buddies”. So far his recommendations have been spot on, so we push on. What one guide says is 5km, another says is 7km to Gonzar.
From Portomarín, we walk all by ourselves. It is a pleasant (dry) walk, and we make it to a sparsely populated Gonzar and Casa Garcia. We have a pleasant evening and dinner with, Ronnie (who is doing research on the effect of technology and long distance hiking… specifically the Camino), an animated Irish gal who could cuss any Long Shoreman off a dock, and her Scottish boyfriend whose thick melodic accent required deft attention and polite nodding to acknowledge or understand what he (or in fact, both) were saying.
A check to see if Dave’s clothing had dried yet (almost), and we set off to bed, praying that tomorrow’s predicted rainfall would be sparse, if any. We should be so lucky…Not!
Be Strong! Austin Strong!