Saturday October 27, 34km
Today’s walk is for A, Peregrina of courage, spark, humour and grit. She knows what to do when there is a fork in the road! One day we’ll walk together again with the girls as well.
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We were so relieved this morning to wake to clear skies after rain in the night and endless bloody forecasts of more. I don’t trust the weather report on TV but it plants a seed of trepidation in the hardiest pilgrim. Spain is drenched at the moment, but somehow we seem to be staying in the clear. Renato made a check of the skies when we were getting ready and pronounced ‘tre estrellas’ so we were pleased.
It’s cold! The early walk takes us through oak forests through corridors of clear light and over carpets of leaves. Tree trunks are covered in the pale green bushy lichen I call Old Man’s Beard and there are strings of puddles the width of the track. I trail behind the group for a wee break and find myself a few minutes later in front of a marked detour. What to do? Where have my friends gone? There’s some safety tape dangling from a bush but not exactly restricting the passage to the normal Camino. So I did what I thought you’d do, peregrina, and said bugger it, and went through. It’s Saturday so no one’s working on the heavy machines. Soon I come to the reason for the detour: the, ummm, Autovía being built. And have to leap across a wide gutter and stumble-scramble down an embankment and up the other side. I hope the track I can see leading off is the one I should be on. And a few minutes later, vindicated! Back on the way marked by yellow arrows. Phew!
Later on I’m back with Letizia and we come to a village with trees just dripping apples. I took a wind fall one, but L in good Italian spirit got us a couple of rosy ones from a tree. We’re also eating blackberries as we walk down walled lanes and, oh A, we’ve arrived in chestnut country! Do you remember? You once said that walking past fallen chestnuts was like walking past chocolate and not taking it, and so it is! They are shiny and rich brown, plump and everywhere on the ground. There are heaps of people out wild-harvesting today, both chestnuts and mushrooms, as the first good Autumn rains have just fallen. One couple wouldn’t let me walk by without filling my pockets with chestnuts. Camino abundante!
For lunch we had the best bocadillo ever: tortilla and queso in fresh fat bread, and a ración of mushrooms, which came with garlic and thyme and floating in olive oil. Oh the pure pleasure of such a meal, with a walker’s appetite. I had my leg up and with ice on it while we ate. I’m on a high dose of Voltarin which is not ideal, but unavoidable for now. Do you remember when you got tonsillitis and going together to the clinic in Astorga? The doctor seeing us ahead of the whole waiting room and giving you antibiotics for free?
The afternoon walk was a bit long and a bit grizzly as it tends to be, you know the last few hours before arriving when the delight of the morning has gone and the legs and feet are feeling the kilometres? But we saw the mountains we’ll be climbing tomorrow or the day after, shining in blues and greys past the green and Autumn-painted forests. It gives a thrill of excitement!
Here in Puebla de Sanabria we are happy in a well-appointed touristic albergue whose lovely clean bathroom, good kitchen and warm rooms makeup for the chilly reception from the so-called hospitalero who got a bit mad at us when we wanted to put our hand-washed clothes in the dryer. Actually they did take about four hours to dry. In the kitchen were new faces: Adriano and Antonio well into a bottle of red and cooking up scrambled eggs with mushrooms they’d apparently been given by the hairdresser when they went for a beard trim. So imagine this, true pilgrim hospitality, they were not cooking for their own dinner but would put a fork in the hand of anyone who came into the kitchen. Later Letizia and Álvaro cooked spaghetti and a feast was made with bits and bobs that everyone had.
You would have loved it A. From my way on the Camino Sanabrés I send you blessings, joy, lightness of heart and pilgrim grit.
Love you, and love to R and the girls,