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.

Sarria messed with my mind. No, that’s not right. I allowed Sarria to mess with my mind. I was accustomed to people passing me. What I wasn’t accustomed to was hordes of people passing me, strutting and rushing by.

In addition to the five people directly in front of me, scads more ahead of them had already trotted past me.

You find what you’re looking for. How many times have I said that in presentations? Typically it’s the point of my Powder Skiing the Trees story, as in, look between the trees and you’ll find the path. If you look at a tree, you’ll hit one.

I was focused on crowds, traffic, how much faster than me everyone else was going.

Whiney Terri: Is it going to be like this the whole rest of the way to Santiago?

Pilgrim Terri: Probably. Are you going to let that ruin your Camino? Aren’t you the one with the Choose Happy necklace?

Whiney Terri: Ugh. I hate it when I have to take my own advice and walk my own talk.

Donna helped. Of course. She helped me shift my focus to the beauty around me. For instance, how so much of today’s trail was “sunk” below ground level.

The new Terri walking into the light, through the trail tunnel.

Portomarin had options and obstacles. We heard rumors on the trail (Veterans) that there would be a decision point right before crossing the bridge over the river and arriving at Portomarin. Turns out that there was a poster board with the map and options outlined. All I remember about the original Camino trail was the word “treacherous.” Picture a rocky, dry waterfall without water, and that was Option A.

Option B was to take a paved road straight down and around to the right of the “waterfall,” also the bike trail. Option C was to the left and longer. Donna and I opted for Option B.

Steep, steep, steep. Clack, clack, clack went our poles on the asphalt. Teeney, tiny steps and we were down.

“Wanna know what my chant was?” Donna asked. (She had previously given me a chant for climbing uphill that was, “I-can-do-this,-if-You-help-me.” One step per syllable.)

“Absolutely!” I said, looking forward to yet another tool in my trekking toolbox.

“Camino schmamino. Camino schmamino,” she said with a groan.

Had I been sipping water, it would have shot out my nose.

That’s me, wishing I had either a water ski or a stand up paddle board. Nah, make that a motorized water vehicle.

No. Way. Jose. We crossed the bridge and checked our walking notes. Our accommodations were off the Camino, in a farmhouse or cottage. That meant a phone call to arrange pick up from the host/hostess.

“Estamos aqui, debajo de la escalera,” I said to our host. “We are here, at the BOTTOM of the stairs.”
Waiting patiently at the bottom of the Portomarin Stairs.

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