Having met up with the masses from the French Camino, today was definitely uncertain as to how busy the way might be. Although many left before 6am, Mikey stuck around until 7:30 in hopes of letting the path clear out a bit. We were surprised to meet the Portuguese couple at a cafe right outside the albergue and joined them for a pre-Camino coffee before heading out into the foggy morning.
If you followed Mikey and Frank on last year’s French Camino, then you already know about this breakfast spot out in the middle of a field.
We almost missed the turnoff for the 0 stoplight town of O Pedrouzo, but Mikey remembered actually missing it last year and having to walk 16km further that day. This time, he was able to direct our small group before it was too late. I think it was C.S. Lewis who wrote, “Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.”
To be honest, O Pedrouzo is really underwhelming. It has the single fortune of being located some 20km away from Santiago and is therefore a penultimate stop for many pilgrims – the final one being Santiago. As one of Mikey’s Irish Camino friends would say, they’re trying hard to earn the last of the pilgrims’ pounds.
However, just as soon as he thought about settling in for the evening, Mikey ran into a couple of people he’d not seen in a while. Before we knew it, there was a table of pilgrims enjoying local craft beer and wine.
Perhaps these are the images cameras invariably fail to capture – those where the conversation flows freely and recent acquaintances joke and pick at each other like old friends. Camino gossip is exchanged, final tips are shared and debunked, and Mikey learns that he is known as “the quiet guy.” Don’t worry, there are also “the loud Americans” whom many try to avoid, the “Dutch juvenile delinquents,” that young Polish priest, and a “Mr. Miyagi” who is often seen folding origami and picnicking solo. Before long, we had laughed away the evening and it was almost 10pm (curfew). We walked back to the albergue for one more night’s communal rest before Santiago.
One of us will watch her camino friend/priest celebrate mass at the cathedral tomorrow before she heads back to Germany. Two are calling on old friends in Galicia and then taking a bus home to Porto. Another is meeting her mother for a planned European vacation and will then fly back to her native Brazil. On and on the plans go. We all walk to Santiago, but each camino is as different as the pilgrim who makes it. Thank you for joining me on this Camino de Norte.
Still, as we say goodnight to you, this is not goodbye – not by a long-shot! I mean, we have to get you to Santiago de Compostela tomorrow! Oh, and then Mikey’s going to rest, but we’ll make sure you see some of Galicia and maybe the Atlantic coast before we head to Portugal for wine tasting in Oporto, a high speed train to Lisbon, and then an overnight journey to Madrid where we will try out some new craft breweries.
So, stay focused people! We still have lots of time together. Oh, and if you aren’t yet following Mikey on Instagram, you should be! Yes, these blog posts are a bit more comprehensive, but the Instagram account gets you more realtime and unfiltered updates as it all goes down.
OK – enough shameless promotion. Goodnight and we’ll talk next from the “Emerald City” of Santiago de Compostela!