Day 22: Palas de Rei to Arzua (28K?)

The Long Day That Got Longer and Longer

We left the rectory relatively early (again, early for us) knowing we had 28K (17 miles) to go, according to the walking notes. Our walking notes had always measured the distance from our lodging to the next destination. Or so we thought. Maybe it was from town/village/city limit sign to the next edge of town. Or maybe it was center of town to center of town. For three full weeks it was always close enough for Camino work.

We knew we were 6K away from Palas de Rei when stepped out the door. We assumed our 28K estimate was based on our lodging to our next lodging, or thereabouts in Arzua. In other words, the 28K included the 6K to get to Palas de Rei.

Our morning selfie on the way to Palas de Rei. The owner of the albergue/bar in the background went all out with the scallop shell icon.
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Day 21: Portomarin to Palais de Rei (Sept. 30)

A 24K Day with a Pleasant Surprise

Here’s how our mental math worked. Anything under 20K (12.5 miles) was a short day. A short day meant we might arrive by 3 pm, which meant more time for the hand washed laundry to dry. And writing time for me. And sangria for both of us.

Anything over 20K could be a long day. On long days (15-20 miles), we hoped to arrive by 5 p.m. We knew we would be more physically tired, so we learned not to anticipate doing much more than shower, change clothes and eat dinner. Anything else would be a gift of time. The real key to mental health on a long day was to avoid “horse-to-barn” mode. That is where you put your head down, don’t look around, don’t talk (unless it is to ask rhetorically, “how much farther?”) and your whole being is focused on one thing. Just. Get. There.

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Day 20: Sarria to Portomarin (Sept. 29)

SIG Alert on the Camino Between Sarria and Santiago

Donna and I stayed in a hotel in Sarria, and when we went down to breakfast, it was difficult to find a seat. We saw two banquet-style tables and thought it might be for family style seating, which we have enjoyed as a way of meeting new people.

Nope. They were tables reserved for three different large tour groups of Pilgrims and their guides.

Fine. Donna and I huddled in a corner at a table for two and made a game of guessing which of the people in the buffet lines were veterans who had 110K left to go on their Camino, and who were the people starting their Camino in Sarria with this as Day 1.

“Plebes,” I said, nodding my head in the direction of a dozen bright shiny Pilgrims around the coffee pots.

Donna almost shot her coffee out her nose upon hearing my nickname.

Based on the recommendation of a veteran sitting nearby (she was walking her second solo camino), we decided to hit the trail as soon as possible. She said most of the groups leave around 9 a.m., so we decoded to get a good head start.

We traded photo-taking services with another couple of Pilgrims. Yes, Donna and I are both wearing “Olivia” because it was chilly. Not pictured are the throngs of people coming up the hill to our left, your right.
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Day 19: Triacastela to Sarria (Sept. 28)

The End of the Camino as We Knew It Is the Beginning of the Camino for Thousands

Glory, hallelujah–we woke to warm, dry boots and no rain in the forecast with supporting physical and visual evidence out the window. As I mentioned, part of our routine every morning is to double check the online weather report. We also had what we came to call The Arm or Body Part Test.

To conduct The Arm or Body Part Test, one opens the window (Spain doesn’t believe in screens) or, if we are blessed with a balcony, one opens the door to the outside. Next, stick an arm or other body part out the opening and report to your roommate what you feel and observe. Optional information to share is what the tester herself has decided to wear based on the experience.

For instance, “I’m going to wear my Holy Long Sleeve and pack my Safari Shirt.”

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