Day 21, Oct 19: Portomarin to Palas de Rei, 15mi

Humble Pie Day.  I shared with you  my thoughts of “Come what may, I will be.”  And how much peace that brought me, especially regarding trying to control my weather circumstances.

Today it rained.  ALL day.  I woke up in my cozy albergue, having slept pretty well on a top bunk with about 15 other people in the room (that’s not that big).  I heard it was raining outside, so dressed for it and put on my backpack cover.  My plan today was to go to a cafe and catch up on emails and post a blog this morning, so I wasn’t that concerned about the rain- yet.  Sometimes it will subside, so sitting in the cafe on my iPad was comfy and nice as I looked out at the falling rain.  Locals and pilgrims alike came and went, and I typed away and drank coffee.

Around 11am, I thought I should probably pack up.  I did have 15 miles to walk today; less than I have been doing, but still substantial and I needed to get going.   The rain didn’t look like it was going to break, so I felt thankful to have have a few hours out of it already.

Rain begain before I woke up, continued until about 7pm that day with no breaks!

Rain begain before I woke up, continued until about 7pm that day with no breaks!

I had on my rain-gear which included backpack cover and poncho.  After only about 30 minutes of walking, I concluded that I needed to get comfortable with the fact that I WAS going to be wet.  Trying to hold the poncho down around me in a certain way was not going to be worth the strange way I had to hold my arms.  I had about 4-5 hours to walk, let’s be real about this.


It is amazing how time does pass.  Two hours into my walk, I tried to avoid a very large puddle covering the trail, so I stepped into a ditch to get up onto the paved road.  I stepped down hard on my right foot, the one whose arch has started to bother me.  The ditch was saturated with water, so the ground gave way and I torqued my foot – sending pain up my right foot and ankle.  ”Shoot!”, I said (but I didn’t say Shoot).  I stepped up onto the road and limped for a minute.  I had nowhere to go, nothing to do but keep walking.  I mean, my foot wasn’t broken, and the rain wasn’t letting up.  Keep going.


I stopped at the next restaurant I saw.  I needed to re-group and assess what would be best for me to do today.  I had only been walking a couple hours, and my destination was about 3 hours away.


I took off my poncho and backpack, and sat down at the bar.  Another woman, from Florida, was there and she told me she had called a cab.  She was done for today, though her albergue was only 1 km away.  I sat to rest my foot, and consulted my guidebook.  I was also hungry, so I tried to order something but the waitress was exremely busy with all the pilgrims that had stopped in for respite.  When I finally caught her attention and asked if I could order a small tapas, she literally gave me one she was holding – a piece of bread with a thick slice of prosciutto on it – and said in Spanish, “Here, this is for you.  No charge”.  I gratefully accepted it; it was perfect.  I ate some nuts I had as well, made a plan for where I’d like to go (about 3 more hours), and where I might stop instead (1 more hour).


After my rest, my foot felt ok, for which I was SO grateful.  I wasn’t cold, and if I kept moving I figured I’d be alright, but I had to keep going.  I  had taken out my poles, which ended up being not a good idea. The wind had picked up, and I needed to hold my parka down as it was flying around ridiculously.  I laughed out loud at what this must look like.  I shortened my poles and stuck them in between my side straps, like you would put a sword in its helm.  Then I reached for the edge of the poncho, and when I grabbed it I realized it had ripped considerably.  I laughed again.  This is ridiculous!  But I really had no other choice but to keep walking.


A taxi passed me.  I thought long and hard about hailing it.  I had overhead the woman from Florida in the restaurant – she was calling a cab to take her just 1 km to her albergue, and it would cost 15 euro.  I don’t blame the cabbies, they get to make some good money on days like this.  But when I saw it pass me, once, twice, three times…back-and-forth… I felt like this cab driver was taunting me.  I actually said “NO” outloud, to keep myself from raising my hand and asking him to stop and pick me up!


Every time the wind whipped, my ripped poncho would fly around and I would grab it and try and hold it close.  My main concern was not my own clothing or self, but was keeping my backpack covered and dry.  If I arrived to the albergue soaking wet, I can easily dry off.  If my clothes and sleeping bag are wet, that’s a huge bummer!


I saw a couple pilgrims up ahead.  Yay!, I thought, I’m not the only one out here!  It’s is not a crazy idea to keep walking in this rain!  Then they ducked into a cafe.  Nevermind.


I saw another person walking up ahead.  I can keep going!  I had about 10k to go.  That would take me a couple hours.  In some ways, I thought that is totally do-able. One foot in front of the other and it’s really amazing how the time passes.  In other ways, 10k felt like an eternity.  I wasn’t eating, drinking, listening to music.  Everything was too much effort; I just needed to hold onto my poncho and walk.


I saw a tall pilgrim up ahead with a good, sturdy poncho on.  I asked him in Spanish how many more kilometers to today’s destination:  Palas de Rei.  He was very kind, and encouraging.  He looked on his phone and said about 8k.  He was waiting, under a shelter, for his sister who was slower.  What was a huge encouragement to me was that he was not acting concerned.  He was not acting like “this is craziness that you are walking in this rain!”.  He was walking to Palas de Rei, too, standing there patiently waiting for his slower sister.  He complemented me on my Spanish, which helped my morale as well.  :)  I said to him, in Spanish, “If you can do this, I can do it too!”  He smiled and encouraged me to go on.


My hands were really cold, but the rest of me was fine if I kept moving.  Fortunately my foot was doing ok, too; very thankful for that.


I walked into Palas de Rei about 5pm, and found one of the bigger albergues.  I checked in and asked about washer/driers.  They had two, they reassured me.  For some reason I thought there would be some kind of welcoming crew congratulating me on walking 15 miles in the rain.  What is so different on this trip than any of my other long-distance experiences is that there is no finish line.  There are no spectators to cheer, “Hey, great job!  You’ve done something that we couldn’t dream of doing!”, and hand me a big warm blanket and a medal.


I was greeted by the cheerful staff of the albergue like they greeted all the other people that came in the door.  No medal, no emergency silver blanket to wrap me up in.  ”10 euros”, they said; that’s what it cost to stay here.  Yes, the laundry machines work.  Yes, the showers are hot.  Here is your room assignment.


Well.  I had a fellow pilgrim take my photo – the air was so humid in the reception room because of all the wet arrivals, that the photo is bad quality!


Me in the albergue lobby, soaked but happy to have made it after 5 hours of walking in the rain.  The room is so humid with wet pilgrims that the photo quality is poor!

Me in the albergue lobby, soaked but happy to have made it after 5 hours of walking in the rain. The room is so humid with wet pilgrims that the photo quality is poor.  That red thing hanging by my side is my ripped poncho!


I settled in, took a hot shower, and hung up my wet clothes.  There was, thoughtfully, a stack of newspapers in the Shoe Room to stuff your wet shoes with – really helps dry them out faster.


I had a GREAT dinner in a local restaurant, and some of my Camino friends came in as I was finishing up.  We all sat together and ordered more food and drinks.  Maria-Jesus (the talker!) and her husband Jose both from Spain, Yow-Yow the Chinese girl who lives in Portugal, and a gal I haven’t mentioned yet named Yadria who is turning 30 years old on Thursday as she walks into Santiago.  She is from Mexico and she and I walked together for about 10k a few days ago and chatted about many things.  She lived in Spain for 2 years while studying, and she was really helpful to me in teaching me some differences between Latin American Spanish and Spain-Spanish.



Camino-friends!  From L-R:  Jose & Maria-Jesus from Spain; Whitney; Yadira from Mexico; Yow-Yow from China/Portugal.

Camino-friends! From L-R: Jose & Maria-Jesus from Spain; Whitney; Yadira from Mexico; Yow-Yow from China/Portugal.


I am very thankful for this day.  It was really hard.  It taught me a lot about my edges – I am endurance-strong when the weather is nice.  I resolved to accept things as they come to me (“Come what may, I will be”, from the other day’s blog), but when the rain falls on me for hours and hours, it’s a real challenge to keep my head in the game and my feet going.  I’m so grateful for those pilgrims I saw on the road, especially the ones with the encouraging words and the attitudes that said “I’m doing this, so can you”.

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