Day 20, Oct 18: Calvor to Portomarin, 16.3mi

This morning I began my walk with a 27-year-old gal from China named Yow Yow who lives and works in Portugal.  I met her yesterday; we both were walking into the late afternoon to get to Calvor.  We didn’t really walk together yesterday, but this morning we did.  She speaks pretty good English, which is her 3rd language (this is so impressive to me!)  It was so interesting and educational to me to hear her talk about what life is like in China.  It is so, so, so crowded – she had some interesting stories like getting onto the subway there is a person whose job it is to literally push people into the cars so the doors can close, and sometimes it’s so packed in there that you won’t even have both feet on the floor.  Can you imagine?  No wonder she moved to Portugal!  Well, there were many reasons, but she did tell me about the one-child regulation, how boys are much more valued, and how she loves and values her family but is very happy to be pursuing her own life and dreams in another country.  Though she sounds, and is, very independent, she was soft-spoken and had a lovely manner, not brash at all.  I kept asking her questions to learn more – she was very open.

Then we came across a couple from Spain whom Yow Yow had met the day before, Jose and Maria-Jesus (I love her name!)  They were excited to see her, and we all started chatting (in Spanish).  Maria-Jesus was impressed with my Spanish, and also took it upon herself to help me learn some words and correct me when I stumbled on my grammar.  I really appreciate this, actually.  It makes me better.  She is a big talker, and I loved chatting with her.

There was only 5k to get into the city of Sarria, where I had planned to find a cafe to blog and email, and then attend a noon mass at the Cathdral.  Our little group parted ways and said “Nos vemos” (We’ll see each other)!  because this close to Santiago we likely will.

I figured out what I have left to walk, and am really happy that I have some flexibility and “extra” time because of some of the very long walk days I did.  I will be arriving in Santiago earlier than I had thought I would be able to.  So, the next few days my walking will be much shorter – good for my feet, and my mind as I prepare to come to the end of my Camino.  I will get to spend two nights in Santiago, then I will head out onto the Camino again, and get to walk the 3 days it takes to get to Finisterre which is on the coast.  I had wanted to at least take a bus there to see it; now I have the time to walk!

…I sat in my cozy cafe and drank coffee and ate some kind of pastry-goodness while I blogged – this experience is the most decadent treat for me.  It’s the icing on my Camino cake!  At noon, I walked over to the Cathedral and attended the mass.  I am not Catholic, but I have been to mass before for various reasons.  My grandmother was Catholic, and I remember going with her.  It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic or Christian or Buddhist or nothing at all if you want to go into the churches and masses (“misas”) here on the Camino.  They are all in Spanish.  If nothing else, it feels reverent and peaceful to sit in an old, old building that was created to honor the Creator.

I headed on after the service, around 1pm, and it was lightly raining.  I “suited up” with most of my rain gear.  After 15 minutes I was hot and sweaty, so I had to stop and re-do everything.  I finally got into my groove, and put on earphones to listen to some sermons (in English this time!), and music.  The rain continued for a couple hours, and I was wet but not soaked and not cold.  The sun came out and it was just beautiful.

Something interesting I learned about the city of Sarria:  it has become a major starting point for many pilgrims with limited time but wanting to walk to Santiago.  To receive an official “Compostela” (certificate of walking to Santiago), you must have covered at least 100km on foot, or 200km on bike.  Pilgrims arrive in Sarria, which is just over 100k away, by bus or taxi and begin walking from there.

This means that “alll of a sudden”, the route is more crowded, and so are the albergues.  My guidebook makes a thougthful note that I’m glad I read:  “Beware of signs of irritation at the intrustion on “my” camino – remember that many of the new arrivals may be nervous starting out and you don’t need to show aloofness or a sense of superiority.  A loving pilgrim welcome is all anyone needs along the path, with an open mind and heart, and without judgment“.  I definitely will keep this in mind, as I already noted a little bit of irritation creep into my steps today as I felt the impact of more people around, knowing they just started and I’ve been walking for weeks.  No judgement and no superiority!!

Around 6pm I walked into my destination of Portomarin, a small-medium city with an interesting history.  The original site of the town was down farther, now submerged by a reservoir that was created to provide water to growing communities.  The cathedral (Igrexa de San Juan) and another historic building, Casa do Concello, were painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt, stone by stone (you can see some of the stones are numbered!) at a higher location where Porotmarin now is located.

There were many albergues, thankfully, and I checked out a few (2 were “completo”, though!) before I chose one that felt a little special.  It was thougtfully done, with single-room bathrooms/showers – I have not seen that before!-  and a little lounge room with a sofa, table and chairs, books, and magazines, and a blazing wood stove.  After I showered, I sat in there for at least an hour and journalled and emailed, soaking in the comfort.

Ate dinner at a nice restaurant I had seen while walking into town, it had a view of the river and a delicious dinner menu.  I met a 24-year old, wise-for-her-years gal named Dana from Orange County and we ended up sitting and eating together, chatting about many things.  I really enjoyed her company and talking with her.

Today, I again learned a lot from other people just by hearing about where they are from and how they got to the Camino.  It does seem to beckon; if you feel it, it may take years to get here but if you’re meant to come then it seems you will.  Or, you will be called elsewhere.  There is no time just sitting around in our lives waiting to be used for something like this.  I used to think, and say, “I don’t have enough time” – for many things, not just for a month-long trip.  You must make the time.



Iglesia de Santa Marina where I attended Sunday noon mass and received a “pilgrim’s blessing” from the priest afterwards. It was lightly raining when I left, and some people were setting up for a wedding – lovely!


Rainy for a couple hours today, but not cold.  The setting is beautiful, wet or dry!

Rainy for a couple hours today, but not cold. The setting is beautiful, wet or dry!


Granaries ("horreos") are prevelent in Galacia; they were used to store grains (mostly wheat) up off the ground level where rain and pests could get into it.

Granaries (“horreos”) are prevelent in Galacia; they were used to store grains (mostly wheat) up off the ground level where rain and pests could not get into it.


The cozy lounge off the dormitories of the albergue "Porto Santiago" in which I stayed in Portomarin.  Albergues really vary, some are super-basic, and others have more thoughtful touches.  Prices vary, too, and not necessarily because of extra thougthful touches.  There is no "rating scale" that I have found.

The cozy lounge off the dormitories of the albergue “Porto Santiago” in which I stayed in Portomarin. Albergues really vary; some are super-basic, and others have more thoughtful touches. Prices vary, too, and not necessarily because of extra thougthful touches. There is no “rating scale” that I have found.



2 Responses to “Day 20, Oct 18: Calvor to Portomarin, 16.3mi”

  1. ShirlDeet says:

    Dear Whitney,
    You are nearing the end of your amazing journey (pilgrimage). I am so impressed at what you’ve accomplished…..and I will really miss reading your captivating daily blogs.

    All my best,
    Shirley Deeter

    • admin says:

      Hi Shirley! Yes, the end is near-er than the beginning, but I still have about a week to go! I will continue to blog, I love doing it! Thank you for reading them, and for your kind words of support. -Whitney

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