Sunday, April 13, 2003

October 24, 2001
Ferreiros- Palas de Rei (sunny)
19.4m/31.0km - 424.5/681.2km

We get as far as Portomarin, which is 5.6m/9.0km down the road, and stop for the morning. Portomarin is across the Rio Mino. There are two Portomarins, the new town and the one under the river. A reservoir was built in the 1950's causing the river to rise and the original Portomarin was drown. A new town was built higher up. When we walk across the bridge to Portomarin we look down and see some of the ruins of the old village and the remains of the medieval bridge that once spanned the river. We are so high up that birds are flying around below us. As I stand there looking down I spit into the river to see how long it takes for the spit to hit the water. I lose sight of the spit before it is anywhere close to the river.

When we get to the Portomarin side of the bridge we find we can either walk up a street that meanders around on its way to the main street through town or go straight up the stone steps to the Chapel of the Virgen de las Nieves. We pick straight up. Half way up the steps I wish I had picked the street. We walk to the center of town and the plaza in front of the Church of San Nicolas. San Nicolas is one of the buildings that was taken apart and moved to the new town. We see a bar to the left of the church that is just opening so we go there and order Cokes.

While in the bar we decide to buy groceries and have our lunch in a small park we walked by at the other end of town. J wants to stop at a bar we passed that has Internet access and I want to give my sister a call, so we split up after agreeing to meet at the park. I find a phone booth and call my sister. She is surprised and happy to hear from me. As we talk she asks me about the walk. I don't know what to tell her. I can't seem to talk about it. I tell her it has been fine but I can't tell her anything about it. It's as if there is a black hole inside me where the walk has gone and I can't pull it back out. When I hang up I feel a deep weariness and a deeper longing for home.

I buy some food and walk back to the park and find B already there. She has finished her lunch and is stretched out on the ground. I start my lunch and when I am almost finished J shows up. After I finish my lunch I sit back and relax. J eats his lunch and after he finishes he sits back and relaxes. As I sit there I listen to the birds and watch the leaves in the trees gently moving in the breeze. I know I don't want to leave yet and since the others aren't moving either I guess they don't want to leave either. Finally, we get up, throw away our trash, put our packs back on, and start walking. It is 100P and we have 13.1m/12.0km to cover before sundown.

We reach Palas de Rei at 700P and check into the refugio. This one is three stories tall with the sleeping dormitories are on the upper two floors. After we pick our bunks J and I go to take showers. Most of showers we have been using have been communal, a few haven't, like the ones in O'Cebreiro and Ponferrada. They all have had doors or curtains for privacy. As I walk down the bathroom corridor, J right behind me, I notice that all the shower stalls we walk pass have a little changing area in front of them but there are no curtains between the stalls and the changing areas. There are also no curtains between the changing areas and the corridor. When I reach the last shower stall I stop. J stops at the one next to me. We stand there looking at the two stalls and then I turn to J and say, "You stay on your side of the wall and I'll stay on mine," and step into the shower. Some things you've just can't worry about.

After my shower I go down and do my laundry. There is a washing machine but it has a line of people waiting to use it so I hand wash and then hang my clothes out on the line to dry. After that we go to dinner. We got here so late that for the first time we do not have to wait for the restaurants to open before we can eat. To celebrate the fact that we are only two to three days away from Santiago I order langastinos for dinner.

Can this almost be over? I feel like I have been walking forever. What is it going to feel like to stop?

No comments: