Day Twenty-three: Gontan to Vilalba – Yesterday afternoon as Julian and I poked our heads into the Gontan albergue the hospitalero (host) told us there were already two Americans who had signed in. We found them in back, washing their clothes, and introduced ourselves to Pete and his friend, Pete, of Michigan, USA.
After Julian left and I was blogging yesterday’s post I listened closely to their voices and watched their mannerisms as they cooked their dinner, in order to guess the kind of work they do. I kept coming up with the same hypothesis: they must be either teachers or pastors.
When I returned from the supermercado (supermarket) with my dinner ingredients they were still at the dining table, and as we talked I learned Pete is a political science prof, and Pete is a ….. United Methodist pastor. I could barely contain my surprise that a) my guesses were spot on, and b) in faraway Spain I was having dinner with another United Methodist pastor. About 5 minutes later they got around to asking me what I do, at which point I revealed my membership in the guild of United Methodist clergy. Now they were astounded too, and we enjoyed an evening of church and seminary tales together.
Sometime in the evening I lost track of Julian, so at 7:45 this morning I headed out alone under drizzly skies, first to neighboring Abadin, and then on a detour path along the highway, to Castromaior. In this blessedly flat stretch of camino the biggest challenge of the day was figuring out whether to have my rain jacket on or off. The early drizzle was soon replaced by a cold, dry wind, which was soon replaced by sun, followed by more cold, dry wind. I eventually settled on jacket-in-pack, choosing to shiver in the shady or open areas rather than sweat in the sunny spots.
I stopped for coffee off the camino at Martinan, where I caught up on emails from Gail. While I’ve been gone, gallivanting through Spain, she’s been handling our old home sale and new home purchase back in Seattle. Gail is more than capable of managing this, but she’s always busy at work, so I’m amazed she’s been able to keep it all together. Today the last part of the deal closed, so from here on out it should be much easier for her.
Caffeine enhanced, I continued on past the lovely 17th century bridge of Martinan and then decided to try an experiment: take consecutive photos of the camino track at specific intervals and share them in sequence. The goal would be to give blog readers an idea of what a random section of real camino actually looks like. You can see the results below. The two people you can vaguely make out ahead are Pete and Pete of Michigan and Michigan.
By 1:20 I reported to the front desk of the albergue here at Vilalba and signed in for my 5€ bed. I’m with the same crowd of pilgrims from yesterday, which includes youngish Spaniards, Italians, a Dane, a Pole, and Pete x2 of Michigan. There’s a fine kitchen here in the albergue, but unfortunately there is no hint of a pot, pan, knife, fork, spoon, or plate. But there’s a restaurant just across the parking lot and there are rumors of a supermarket in the town proper which is about 1.5 km away.
I’m planning my stages ahead now, and have decided to walk the remaining 124 km (74 miles) to Santiago in 4 days rather than the usual six. I’ve made a reservation for tomorrow night at Deba, a “natural” albergue with a vegetarian restaurant and will meet Martin anew at Sabrado dos Monxes. I’ll then go to Arzua, which is on the Camino Frances, and do a whopper of a 40 km day (like last year) from Arzua to Santiago. This gets me to Santiago a day early which allows an extra day to enjoy one of my favorite hotels and more time to rest before heading home on June 28.
I calculate my distance so far as 554 km (346 miles) over 23 days’ walking, which comes down to a 24 km/day (15 mile/day) average. I’ll average 31 km/day over the next 4 days, which shouldn’t be an issue.
I’m getting excited about seeing Martin again, and Jacqueline, another Camino Frances 2011 alum, as well as my dear Santiago de Compostela and best of all, Gail and home.