Day 5: Distance travelled 18.7 kms. Total ascent 28m
Weather: Clear morning, clear hot afternoon. Est: 28+ degrees
I guess it’s only fair that I write today…it was supposed to be a short day to give our almost-blistering feet a chance to recover. It was my job last night to establish the intended route and it’s all my fault that our five or twelve kilometres turned into very close to twenty for the majority and then another few for Jboy16 and me as we headed back into town to purchase food. Feeling somewhat exhausted, we voted to do the dinner-and-breakfast shopping before taking showers, before taking shoes off, before stopping to relax. So as we arrived at the supermarket at 3pm to discover it would not reopen until 6, it seemed an appropriate time to quote Clifton Fadiman:
“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you feel comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
It was the second time today I had quoted it! We had approached the Templar Castle in Ponferrada soon after 7:30am, excited that entry would be free and we would see some amazing manuscripts copied by monks centuries ago. We knew we would have to wait a while, but we were only going to walk 12km at most, five if the castle was really great, and so time was on our side. Unfortunately, opening time was not until 11 and so we made the decision to take a leisurely walk around the outside and press on.
Wriggling our way out of town, we wondered why we didn’t see the promised albergue at 5km. By the time the 12km mark was well passed and we were just entering another town, starting with C as the one we were looking for was, but not looking exactly the same (Camponaraya instead of Cacabelos), I started wondering if something was up. Not fully realising our predicament, we took a long lunch break, visited a Pharmacia to replenish lavender oil and plaster supplies and stock up on more antihistamine for the bedbug afflicted and slowly wandered on, half-expecting to stumble across the albergue very soon. To the dismay of those who saw it, a roadside sign announced we were 6.7km from the town we were heading for.
There’s only one thing to do: walk and ignore the almost-blisters that were making themselves felt. E-Rgirl6 just couldn’t make it. After a week of walking 10km or so each day in Paris, and now being day five of Camino walking, with each day being longer, she slowed to an eventual halt. Thankfully her father is an ex-All Black and had the physical prowess to carry not only a backpack, but an additional 20 kilos as well. You didn’t know FatherBear used to play for the All Blacks? Well, a Dutch man he bumped in to the other day insisted and would not be convinced otherwise that he was definitely an ex-All Black; he’d seen him on tv. Pictures offer proof:
Plenty of people here walk much further – two ladies have done over 40km to get here tonight – and so 19km sounds insignificant. But for a group who wanted an easy day and who has a six-year-old and an octogenarian, it was a good effort. Tgirl8 is the real star at this stage. She is tired, sore and loses interest in the scenery, and yet she just plods on. Not once has she so much as murmured. Not one grizzle, not the smallest fuss. When we were discussing what we could give thanks to God for, she added to her long list, “that I haven’t complained at all”. And she’s right.
So how did such a mistake occur? We are using both a guidebook and a spreadsheet compiled by someone which shows where albergues are, how much they cost, how many beds there are, how far from the last one, what facilities are around in terms of food, banks, pharmacies, fountains etc. This Very Useful Spreadsheet declared it was 5km from Ponferrada to Cacabelos. We are also using a guidebook, but I failed to check any details from that as it didn’t seem necessary for such a short leg! I am pleased to announce that, while I accepted full responsibility, no-one blamed me, and they even prepared dinner while I finished off yesterday’s blogpost! Mark Twain once observed, “I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
After today, I’d say we’re all in love!
PS Some shots from today:
PPS Little story from the day: We sat down at a fountain this morning for a break (incidentally our friends Emilio and Mercedes were there too) and a couple of cyclists flew past. They turned and retraced their steps to ask if we were the big kiwi family….they had been told about us and were looking out to stop and say HI from someone we had met earlier! Cool camraderie.
PPPS Educational notes from the day: we have been intrigued with the irrigation systems in fields, and enjoyed watching folks harvesting the produce from their abundant garden plots…..three worked in one field piling potatoes into huge containers and then dumped them into sacks, others picked beans and lettuces and tomatoes, still more roasted newly-picked peppers over a charcoal grill, an old man hoed cabbages a metre tall….for our part, we sampled more wild blackberries and grapes, and purchased the most amazing nectarines and peaches.
PPPPS Mboy10 declared, “My favourite food is water, and then these peaches.” I’m guessing it was hot at the time.
Tags: 2012, postcard: Spain