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.
We start to wha-wha wonder what we are in for.
As you walk, it is common to be joined for a brief time by other walkers. The template for conversation is along these lines:
Greeting: Buen Camino
Country of origin: Where are you from?
Geography ruler: Where did you start your Camino? (As in, Burgos, Sarria, St. Jean Pie de Port or other. It provided good practice to stop comparing your Camino to someone else’s. Although I must admit that when the Sarria-starters learned that Donna and I had already been walking three weeks, their admiration did not fall on deaf egos.)
Destination: How far are you walking today? (Almost always answered with the name of the town in which they would be staying that night.)
As Donna and I chatted with others, we did not hear the name of our destination mentioned. Not once. When we shared that we were staying in Arzua, people were aghast. “Are you sure? That’s like, really from here.”
It became abundantly clear that our 28K day had the potential of ending up as a 32K day when we added our 6K shortfall from the day before. Well, we had done a 30K before (O’Cebriero climb). At least this day wouldn’t have that uphill drudge.
We saw Aaron and his mom, Mickie somewhere along the trail. We had already figured out that most people were staying in Melide, and we figured the mother/son duo would be, too. They had started from the real, true Palas de Rei, not the rectory 6K before that. If they were going to Arzua, that would mean a long, 28K day for them.
“Hey, Aaron! We’re going to Arzua. Are you-ah?” I teased.
He politely smiled, paused, and said, “As a matter of fact, we are too-ah.”
That was probably the last time we chuckled that day. We dragged ourselves into Arzua’s town center at 7:20 pm. We were staying at one of the charming gatehouses, which meant we needed to call (and wait) for the host to fetch us in his vehicle. I checked my FitBit and gave up any hope of figuring out the math from the walking notes. 36K in 11 hours. (Mom, that’s 22 miles.)
We flopped into our beds, exhausted. The next day’s projection was 23K. It would be our last “full” day of walking. The day after that we would walk into Santiago, and that was listed as a mere 14K day.
By now, however, we knew better than to consider our last day a “short” day.
You. Just. Never. Know.