We were now into the last days of our journey. Sarria is the jumping off point for many on the Camino de Santiago as it is the shortest distance that qualifies you for the Compostella – the official certificate saying you hiked the Camino. Brierley has Santiago as 118.2 km from Sarria.
When we arose, it was raining so we dawned our rain gear. The scenery had changed. Galicia looks more like the terrain back home in Canada – forest, streams, open pastures, farms, all very green in Spring. A smell of manure and dung was everywhere. It is a rain forest – very different from the earlier scenery on our tour.
We of course were carrying our packs on our backs. There is a commercial service available that would pick up your pack and deliver it to your next planned destination, relieving you of all that weight. One would then only have to carry a light day pack with lunch, water, TP etc. Not to demean those who use the service, Dave would use it in France 3 years later, we called these pilgrims “day trippers”.
A note on TP. Dave carried a small roll of TP in his pack as you never know when nature calls. For some reason it was often pink in colour in Spain. When you had to go you would wander off the trail and do your business behind a tree. However you will recall there were long sections of the Camino with no trees. Hence it was not uncommon to come upon someone doing their business out in the open – men and women alike. The polite thing to do is look the other way. And that is what everyone did, still it was somewhat trying. Most refugios had separate bathrooms for men and women. However we recall one that had a single unisex bathroom that took us by surprise.
It was getting crowded now. The closer you get to Santiago, the more pressure to ensure you would get a bed each night without reservations. The refugios get bigger and bigger. We hiked the 23 km to Portomarin pop. 2000 and hiked up all those stairs. Rather than check into the 160 bed Xunta Alburgue, we found a private room in the Pension Portamino. It was clean, quiet and dry. Dave was feeling much better and Marie was managing her blisters as best she could.
The next morning we set our sights on Palas de Rei pop. 4500, another 26 km. The rain had stopped, it was cool and we made good time despite the 400m elevation climb. We took a cab the last 5 km. We checked into a small alburgue and shared our room with Henny and Randi who we had met on the train to Leon and seen on the trail several times. We went out to dinner and had a nice evening together. Dave is still connected with Henny on Facebook – he is skipper of a fishing trawler in Denmark and they live on an island. Love Denmark!