Day Twenty-one: Ribadeo to Lourenza — A new word should be invented for weather that is somewhere between heavy fog and drizzle. “Frizzle,” maybe? “Drog”? Whatever it might be called, that’s what it was doing all day today, making it a wet, cold and dreary 26 km (16 mile) stage.
I said goodbye to Martin this morning knowing full well that this could be the last time I see him. With his knee acting up again he needs rest, and one of his options is simply to go home. If he does go, today’s goodbye could be the last. I chatted with him, hugged him and wished him the best, then headed out for a very late start at 9:00.
His last words to me as I walked out the door were, “You’re a better man than I to go out in this weather.” Indeed, a cold wind was blowing at about 10 knots from the ocean, and a low mist made everything instantly wet. Less than 20 meters from the albergue I put on my jacket and pack cover, hoping that the farther I walked away from the ocean the warmer it would get.
I walked through Ribadeo, losing the way markers twice, but getting helpful directions from bartenders before I got too lost. My focus was on finding my way, but as I look back on the day I realize I should have picked up some food before I left Ribadeo. At least a few calories would keep my stomach from rumbling, but as it turned out there were no bars or restaurants open for almost the entire extremely rural stage.
Soon after Ribadeo, which is at sea level, the camino climbs on a combination of paved and gravel roads to an elevation of 320 meters (1040 feet). The track wanders through eucalyptus forests, tiny hamlets and green pastures of sheep, goats, cows, horses, and donkeys. Today, any scenic vistas were obscured by thick and wet clouds. Gains in elevation included gains in the thickness of the fog that kept my clothes and me quite wet.
Knowing I’d started late I walked quickly, using energy from last night’s late supper. By 10:00 I was already hungry. Surely there’ll be a bar/cafe at Vilar, I thought to myself. Nope. Well if not there than certainly San Vicente. Uh-uh. Probably San Martin Pequeno then? Zip. San Martin Grande? Zilch. Gondan? Nada, unless you count the soda pop vending machine at the shuttered albergue. Finally, at 3:00, I walked into a restaurant at San Xusto and wolfed down a Caldo Gallego and some huevos fritos (soup and fried eggs). Then it was up the hill for another big climb, and finally down into the comforts of Lourenza, a town with bars and restaurants enough to satisfy any pilgrim.
As I arrived at the albergue I recognized I was within a couple of hours of being too cold, too wet, and too hungry for my own safety. My pants, jacket, hat, socks, and boots are all wet, and before even thinking about more food I needed a nap and warm shower in order to feel human again.
As I walked out of the albergue to find some food I met Julian of Hawaii who’s caught up now. He was cheerful and looking for company, so we agreed to meet tomorrow at the Plaza Mayor and walk together to Gontan-Abadin.
Tomorrow I will certainly carry food with me — at least some cookies — to provide calories for an even bigger climb of 440 meters (1400 feet). The weather report says more frizzle/drog tomorrow, so it’s time to figure out how to make this chilly, wet walk through remote Galician countryside be safe and fun.