Sunday, May 01, 2016

My Camino Primitivo: Blow by blow

Just before we set off, a friend in Pontevedra suggested we open a watsap group and dialogue during it. Here's an abridged version of it, cutting out all the silly comments my Pontevedra exchanged between themselves during the 4 days of my walk. It's all true. Names have been obscured, to protect the guilty. I stress that my Camino colleagues were always involved in this dialogue . . . Enjoy! 

22 April

18.20: The day started well, as we got off on time from Pontevedra but we made up for this when I neglected to turn onto the A6 and took us to the outskirts of La Coruña. After a coffee stop there, we set off again and detoured to Luarca for a 'sandwich lunch' of capracho, chipirones and cheeses. Fortunately, I wasn't fined for parking in a Residents Only street and we set off for Oviedo in good, post-prandial mood. We dropped our BlaBla passenger off in the centre and made for our hotel, where we found Fernando, the most talkative receptionist in Spain. Forty minutes later, we finally got to our rooms.

18.45: Trying to make space for another driver, I reversed into a stationary van. F*****g great start to the camino!

19.18: Friend: Thank God you are walking and not driving from now on.

19.20: Ha, f*****g ha.

19.45: Went down town to join my camino colleagues in the centre for dinner and a cider or three.

23 April

09.06: We set off in the rain at 8.30. Within one minute S. was arguing about the way to join the camino route not far from the hotel. She was wrong but we went her way . . . 

10.22: I prefer to walk alone. Which is just as well, as they all abandon me two minutes after we set off after each stop. Still raining. The cows seem happy. Must buy Asturian milk in future.

10.51: At the bottom of a very steep hill, I realised I'd dropped my hat. Naturally, it was near the top. Still raining.

11.15: Arrived at a bar after several steep hills, up and down. Slippy at times. I curse king Alfonso for not finding a flat way to Santiago. And have a shandy. It's stopped raining.

12.21: Now they've abandoned me completely. Our joint camino lasted just over 3 hours! They're going further than me and want to arrive before 3pm to get a bed in a pilgrims' hostel.

13.06: Just came upon my ex-friends, after walking a while with a nice German guy. Good to learn they exist. S. even gave me half a sandwich.

13.09: Friend: Where exactly are you now?

13.11: Between La Boguina and Escamplero, en route to Grado. Don't know if we will meet up again today or even tonight. But I have my new Kindle! Vamos allá!

15.16: Having lunch. Have tried 3 times to send a foto of my Asturian pote, without apparent success. Enjoyed 2 glasses of wine even more than the pote. Am ready for a siesta but where? Still 1-2 hours from my hotel.

15.23: Friend: Total km today?

15.25: About 22km. But up hill and down dale. Some very steep stretches.

15.40: It's raining again.

15.44: Friend: Are you suffering more than expected so far or enjoying it more than expected? Only 11 days more to go.

15.45: Suffering. No fun putting the waterproof over-trousers on. Like trying to get your legs into a condom.

15.47: Friend: But I am still convinced you're gonna make it, Dude!

15.48: We priests of Dudeism have to soldier on, even tho' my mates have deserted me . . .

16.05: Colleagues and ex-friend, S: We want to get to San Juan de Villapañada before midnight. Therefore we decided to leave him behind.

16.55: Only 45 minutes from my luxury bath!

18.16: Arrived at my hotel in Sostiello. Pretty exhausted. Google sent me on a wild goose chase for at least a kilometre. And the last 1.5 km was a continuous steep hill. I have a clara(shandy) in front of me now . .

24 April

10.48: Today started with a steep climb of 2.3km or 1.5 miles! Needless to say, they abandoned me after 100m. But at least they waited at the top. . . . Just done a steep decline of mud and slippy rocks. Fell on my back twice. But no injuries and it was a comfort to have one of my ex-friends asking if I was OK from 50 metres further down. Not looking forward to the next 2.8km to Santa Eufemia. Doubtless on my own.

12.07: It's raining again. Muddy paths full of jagged rocks again. Alone again, naturally. Bastards. Don't like the way the paths are going down as I head towards the summit. It can mean only one thing!

12.32: Was just passed by a guy almost running. Bigger bastard!

12.23: Knees hurting. Must be close now . . .

12.43: Just missed a marker and climbed a vicious slope before realising my mistake and going back down!

12.52: Arrived at the top in Santa Eufemia. The Bastards are waiting for me. But only because I begged them to. Not their original intention!

13.09: My speed for the last stretch was exactly half of the previous one. Which says it all. The Bastards have left me again. I might see them in Salas but they are again going to an albergue, 7km further on. Never go on a walk with them. Even just to the shops.

13.57: Now in Llamas. 1.7km in 35 minutes. Next stretch to Quintana is 2.4km. Slight incline. No sign of The Bastards. Taking 5 minutes break here.

14.51: Did that stretch at 4.8km per hour. Now lunching on a Mars bar and a Coke from a petrol station as the restaurant is closed. Then a siesta sitting against a tree. This is the life. No Bastards to be seen. Actually nobody to be seen. It's 5.4km to Salas. Maybe a mere 2 hours of pain. Or maybe just an hour or so. Can anyone remind me why I'm doing this? Certainly not for the company. I haven't got any!

16.07: I arrived in Salas at 16.00, 15 or 30m earlier than expected. Don't understand. But Santa Eufemia to here is 9.5 km. 3hrs taking account of breaks. Say 3.2km/hr. Or 2mph. Not great but there were more muddy, rocky, uphill paths in the last stretch. Will check these numbers tonight. Meanwhile,  I'm downing a clara 50m from my hotel. 30m from the cathedral.

16.39: The 2* hotel – an ex castle tower - is magnificent.

25 April

07.12: My overall average during 8 hours yesterday was 2.5kph. Taking out 4 long breaks, 3.7kph or c. 2.3mph. But the range was 1.7 to 4.8kph on the short flat stage. Today is a mud bath where leggings are said to be essential. Don't have them. Should have read my notes before today . . .

12.00: Arrived in Tineo. 3hrs5m. Another morning of hills, mud and water for 9.3km. I have 10 kilos on my back and 1 kilo of mud on my boots. Will stay here for lunch and rest. The next stage is a steep climb of more than 4km. Not a welcome prospect. Today was said to be flat. Clearly a relative term in Asturias.

12.58: Finally found a place to have a menú lunch in a gypsy-run bar in Tineo. Sitting in brilliant sun, looking at a magnificent view. Alone, of course . . .

13.20: Friend: Another day without photos of human beings. Enjoy your lunch.

13.20: I don't see any humans. Only The Bastards from time to time. Briefly.

14.58: These endless bloody hills! Only another 6 hours to go. A lot more than y'day.

16.07: It says here I've climbed 200m over 5.8km in 1h 40m. My legs tell me different, as there was no let up in the gradient. I saw only one person, who was either mad or the Pope. He had a Vatican flag above his hut. And he said it would be flat soon, suggesting that he had a poor understanding of both these words. But now for a descent before climbing again. Getting colder as we approach the mountain passes. Nice to see the snow on them . . . Looking forward to making snowmen of The Bastards and pissing on them.

16.09: Maybe only 3 hours now. 8.6km. Depends on the inclines. Wonder if The Bastards are there already.

18.16: One of The Bastards: He just entered the restaurant in Campiello. Giving me the finger.

20.05: Friend. You are the first pilgrim I have seen in a shirt instead of the usual sports clothes

20.06: I have an expensive wicking T-shirt underneath. I need long sleeves to protect me from the sun. Only superficial people worry about how they look. About 99.9% of Spaniards

20.24. The owner of the albergue and hotel has told us that the 38km that The Bastards plan to do tomorrow is impossible, especially as the first 9km is pure mud. They insist it's ONLY 30km and plan to set off at 7am, so as to get to the next albergue as early as possible. As ever.

26 April

07.58: Terrible night. Several aches and heartburn (from the young wine?) but my toes are worst of all. Like gout. Will recuperate here today and stay another night. Will aim to see The Bastards in Grandas de Salime tomorrow evening for dinner.

08.10: Friend: So what are you going to do all day?

08.12: Read and write. I have a Kindle. And I will enjoy looking at the fog for the next 3 hours or more, thinking of The Bastards tramping through the mud and seeing nothing.

21.59: Friend: I wish you a lovely day tomorrow full of nice experiences

22.00: One thing's pretty sure - I'll be walking alone again.

22.01: Friend: Maybe after one day resting you will catch them up because you're fresh now.

22.11: I aim to catch up with them in Grandas. I'll go by taxi early tomorrow to Berducedo and walk 24km from there, to Grandas.

27 April

09.15: Am on the road again.

09.38: The Bastards: We'll wait for you in Grandas de Salime.

09.52: Wonderful scenery. It must be nice to share the experience with friends or even merely companions. Just saying . . .

09.58: The Bastards: We might go on to the next albergue.

12.49: The Bastards: Where are you? We're in Grandas de Salime and went to the museum.

12.50: The Bastards again: We will walk further because there's nothing to do here.

14.36: I am in Grandas de Salime. I've concluded that I could be just as energetic, bored, tired and alone by running up and down my stairs in Pontevedra. So, I'm taking a bus back to Oviedo tomorrow morning. Enjoy Lugo and the rest of your walk, my colleagues. Buen camino. Anyone want to buy an unused sleeping bag and towel? And a spork?

28 April

10.56: Am back in Oviedo and taking a coffee before driving home. Just walked up 2 flights of steep stairs with my rucksack on. Easy peasy.

30 May

El Trafico: Welcome back to Pontevedra . . . Another €200 for wearing earphones not connected to anything. And the loss of another 3 points on my licence. Wonder if I have any left. Even bigger bastards.

1 comment:

Eamon said...

A good read of your adventure and how you did it all alone. A better experience than those who failed to accompany you on the arduous route and you will cherish the memory and hardship more than they. The picture of the multa sums up my private feelings about Spanish officials in all forms I have encountered whilst living here except for the health service.

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