Distance walked: 7.5 miles
No music today: short day!
Aaaand I’m back!
My night in Sarria might fall under the category “from hell.” There were a lot of snorers, but unlike the typical night, where the snoring is almost comically symphonic, this was cacophonous, at high volume, and unfortunately concentrated in my immediate area of the dorm room. There was one man whose snores sounded like he was draining the bottom of a Coke with a straw. The snores of the man in the bunk beneath mine came out in a series of irregular snorts. Yet other neighbor let out a snore straight out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Earplugs did nothing. Headphones did nothing. I must have fallen asleep at some point, because I was actually awakened the next morning by other (non-snoring) pilgrims who were having loud conversations in Spanish. Then the girl in the bunk next to mine seemed to be packing and repacking every item she owned in a crinkly plastic bag before stuffing it noisily in her bag. Doors opened and slammed shut. Someone turned on the overhead light (which again, was directly above me; how do I end up in these situations?) at 5:50am without a care that people were still sleeping. Exhausted after hours of disrupted slumber, I lay there curled up in bed like Arya Stark, silently reciting a litany of the people that I would strangle when the time came: “The Coke-drinker. The Snorter. The Chainsaw. The talkative Spaniards. Plastic bag girl. Light switch man.”
And then… silence. I awoke to my alarm at 6:55… and everyone was gone. I am taking advantage of this, I thought, and blissfully slept for another half hour. I had arranged to have my pack sent to the next town, only 12k ahead, and so stopped at a cafe for breakfast and to Skype call an albergue to reserve a bed. Normally, I don’t like the idea of reserving rooms because it kind of goes against the pilgrim spirit. However, I also didn’t want to send my pack ahead and get into town only to find that all of the beds were taken. There were a LOT of new pilgrims on the Camino, many just starting from Sarria, and the likelihood of hostels being full upon arrival had increased. With my iffy hip, it wouldn’t exactly be a smart idea to risk having to carry my pack and look for a bed in the next town, which was sometimes 4-5 kilometers away. So reservation it was.
So I started off, with just my little daypack and my trekking poles, to begin the last 115k of the Camino. My hip was doing okay; I was overly cautious and took tiny steps. It felt so good to walk again. At one point, the realization that I would be able to actually finish this hit me, and I became very emotional. I felt an enormous surge of gratitude that I was no longer in pain.
On I went, up and down the hills of Galicia like a little old lady, getting passed left and right by large groups of pilgrims. What a change of scenery from the last day I had walked into Hontanas! Green green green. There were different trees, different flowers, different smells. I passed by countless farms with sheep and livestock, noting at each farm a small roofed rectangular cabin on stilts, which I later found were is used to store corn. (I like to imagine that someone who no longer owns a farm might use it as a little clubhouse to sit and read or take a nap or otherwise escape from the world for a little while, but that’s just me).
On the way, I stopped at a fountain which stood behind a large pool of questionable-looking water. Not all fountains contain drinkable water, but usually they are marked one way or the other. This one wasn’t. “Es potable?” I asked a woman with glasses who was lounging on the nearby cement wall. She gave me a friendly shrug. I filled up my bottle anyway and continued on.
A bit later, I was taking a break near a stream when the same woman came up to me. “You walk as slowly as I do!” she remarked excitedly. Her name was Marta and she was from the Dominican Republic; we continued the rest of the morning together.
Just after noon, we reached Casa Morgade, where I would be staying the night. As we waited inside at the bar- I to check in and she to order food- the tall dark-haired man behind the counter asked if we would mind waiting a few minutes, since the lunch rush had just started. It was not a problem, so I started to do my hip stretches while the man took two plates outside to waiting customers.
“Did you see him?” Marta hissed. “He’s perfect for you! He’s good-looking! He’s so tall!”
“Yes, he is good-looking, ” I agreed.
As he returned, she continued, “I am going to find out about him for you.”
“Oh my God, shhhh!” I begged. The man passed by the bar, entered the kitchen, and then returned to the cash register.
“He’s not married! He’s single! I think it’s his family that runs this place.” Marta whispered entirely too loudly for the close quarters.
“Please, stop talking! You are way too loud!” I quietly warned her. Just then, I saw a suppressed smile on the man’s face as he turned to get a bottle from under the bar. Oh God. He had heard everything. I was mortified. I would now be to him The American Woman Who Thinks I’m Cute for the rest of the day. Wonderful.
Casa Morgade was a fantastic place to stay, one of the best I had seen on the Camino (and no, not just because the guy at reception was hot). When I was shown up to my room, I entered to find a cozy place with six beds. Not bunks. Beds. Hooray! With comforters and an electrical outlet for each bed. Hooray! Again, being a pilgrim helps you to appreciate the little things.
After passing out cold for two and a half hours in the afternoon, I shared a meal with my five new roommates and had my first taste of tarta de Santiago, or Santiago cake, a local dessert made with almonds. Yum.
It was good to be back.