I’ve started to realise that it takes a couple of days on the Camino before you really “arrive” on the Camino. I arrived today.
I separated from the group a little, and walked by myself in the early Galician morning. It had rained in the night, so the air was very fresh, and the trees dripped with water. Blackbirds skipped between the trees, singing prettily. The sunlight was warm and yellow.
The trail meandered past brooks and over mossy bridges, uphill into more eucalyptus forest. Terracotta-rooved buildings were heavy-laden with lichen and ivy.
It was beautiful.
I caught up with Sten just before a café where we stopped for a coffee, and the proprietor brought us some mini doughnuts as well. Warming, delicious, much-needed Camino fuel.
As we were thinking about leaving, Elke and Annette reached our café, and we chatted with them briefly before heading out.
The next few kilometres were more of the same, except with the addition of some friendly cats and some not-so-friendly dogs (I was genuinely afraid of getting bitten at one point).
Presently, we spotted Betanzos in the distance, and began the long descent into the town, stopping at a church, where we waited for Elke and Annette.
What a moment for a reunion! The sun came out and our group walked into the central plaza together. It’s a lovely, expansive square, and we shared a feast of lentil soup, tortilla and croquetas, washed down with everyone’s Camino favourite, clara (basically shandy).
We took our time over lunch, enjoying the square, and the company. It was a wonderful Camino moment!
Afterwards I set off ahead, hoping to reach the albergue at Presedo a bit faster, to get some bunks for us all. The next three hour stretch continued on a similar vein to this morning’s walk, with the addition of steep uphill climbs rewarded by expansive views.
There was also a fantastic little bar along the way, which made a quick pit-stop feel like I’d stepped into a Cezanne painting!
However, even good days can end with challenges. In this case when we reached the tiny twenty-person albergue at Presedo, it was full. I called a couple of places and ended up with a reservation at a hotel several miles away, which required a taxi ride.
Once the rest of my group caught up, there was a fair bit of debate as to whether this was the right decision… Camino families are just like real families it seems.
But after calling around a few more places it transpires almost everywhere around here is full. Semana Santa is a busy time for hotels, hostels and albergues in Spain!
So now we’re at the hotel I booked, which is not great, though at least it’s a slight improvement on yesterday’s albergue (it has electrical points to charge phones, and hot water… after the taps have run for a while…) Hopefully we’ve taken the right path in our Camino journey for now, and can return to the actual Camino tomorrow!
It’s all part of the adventure.