Day 14 (19 May) The Last Day — 13 Miles

Teresa was doing everything this morning. She prepared breakfast, checked people out, and drove them back to A Rua. When I returned to A Rua at 8:30, only one person was in front of me. We had 13 miles to go.

One Walker Ahead

That soon changed after we passed a mural honoring the Camino. Even a dog watched us as we passed. Eventually, we reached the final hill from which pilgrims could see the cathedral in the distance. Everyone stopped for a look and a photo opp.

Camino Mural
People Watching
Santiago Cathedral In The Distance
Pilgrims On The Hill

The downhill was brutal. At the bottom, I crossed the highway into the city. I was walking with purpose because I wanted to reach the compestella office before the masses behind me did. I still had to wait 30 minutes in line. I included an image of pilgrims receiving their compestella. But I did beat the waves that started as I left the office. There were so many more people than when Laird and I went to the office in March 2022. Pilgrims can now register for the compestella using an app and the resulting QR code becomes their queue number. I did the old fashioned way at the computer inside the entry way. Another evolution of the Camino.

Getting The Compestella
Pilgrims Awaiting

As I walked away from the office, I heard my name. Cristina and Jamie were finishing up their lunches. I met them on my first day and several times since. We’ll meet for dinner tonight. I also toasted Delia, my hill training partner at Casa Paredes. That’s her surname as well.

Roland, Cristina, and Jamie
Salud At Casa Paredes

As nighttime fell, I made my way to Meson 42 at 42 Av. Franco for France and not the General. Four of us Primitivo pilgrims had our last supper of goat cheese salad, scallops, pulpo, Padron peppers, and grilled meats. We shared stories about the personalities on the Primitivo and had many good laughs. That part of the Camino was the most meaningful to us all. Here’s to Stefan from Germany, Cris and Jamie (who is a SWAT policeman, who knew) from the Canary Islands, and Mr Green Cap from the US. Buon Camino.

Padron Peppers
The Last Supper In Santiago

Day 13 (18 May) Like Caminos Of The Past? — 12 Miles

Surprise! The ninos e ninas quieted down within a hour. No yelps, running down the halls. At breakfast, they waited patiently to be served. Most had blank stares. The previous day walk must have been taxing. I wanted to nominate their chaperones for sainthood. What a well behaved group of pre-teenagers.

The Camino seemed more crowded today. I had to take my time because my pick-up point for my hotel was only 12 miles away. I had six hours to get there. Besides trying to master the slow walk, I took to Camino watching. It was fun to do. No pressure. For the second day, no clouds or signs of possible rain.

Entrepreneurs seemed to be stationed here and there along the path. Besides their goods, the displays of a Camino stamp were lures. No such peddlers were seen on the CP. Also, the bars were more numerous, larger, and upscale. I had my fill of cafe con leche before I got to my hotel — too early for cerveza cana. The prices were noticeably higher. Pilgrims certainly were helping the local economy.

Ladybug Cafe
Roadside Entrepreneur
Cafe Con Leche Stop

I have sounded somewhat negative about these last days of the Camino. Indeed, they have been different from the experiences on the Primitivo. I started to think that seeing so many pilgrims and curbside services may have been what the Camino was like over the centuries. Pilgrims were coming from far and wide. As they neared Santiago, their paths merged. They needed shelters from albergues to comfortable inns, places to eat, peddlers for souvenirs and goods, and even masseuses just like today.

Foot Masseuse

My hotel (O Muino da Peña Tarroeira) is a few km off the route. It was once a grain mill and the mill race still ran next to it.. I was composing this blog under one of the umbrellas in the patio. My room was spacious and the mattress was firm; most importantly, it was quiet. I was located downstairs from the entrance by a lounge area. This place was one of my three favorites on this Camino.

Exterior Of O Muino da Peña Tarroeira
Hallway In Room
Bed For The King Of The Road
Lounge Area

Tonight was my last pre-paid dinners. It was one of my three favorite dinners that coincidentally matched my three favorite hotels. The classic chicken or the egg problem — is it the room or the food? In these cases, both. BTW, the breakfast was excellent.

Four dishes were served. The first was warm Galician cheese in a tart followed by sautéed prawns. The main course was Galician beef — really tender and juicy — with Padron peppers that are the chubby version of shishitos. The dinner ended with toasted bread covered in not too sweet caramel sauce topped with ice cream that had the texture of a semi-freddo. Teresa, the chef and major domo of the hotel, runs a superb establishment. I’ll come back here anytime.

Galician Cheese Tart
Two Prawns
Galician Beef
Caramel Delight

I’ll end this series of blogs with observations and reflections about this trip. I will include ratings of my hotels in case anyone travels to these locations in the future. They were all satisfactory — clean and comfortable; however, a few stood out for commendation.

Tomorrow is my walk into Santiago. Been there done that or is that so? I am reminded of Ichi-go Ichi-e that Aoyama-San, my friend from ohenro, first pointed out. Every moment of every encounter is unique and will never happen again. What will my feelings be when I return to Santiago?

Day 12 (17 May) Mass Migration — 12 Miles

Signs of change from the solitude of the CP came early in the morning. Suitcases for transport to the next hotel were neatly lined in three long rows in the reception area. All of the tables in the bar were taken at breakfast. The sounds of the coffee machine was on constantly. The servers hustled about.

By 8:30, walkers were like ants roaming the streets of centro sightseeing before following the Camino signs out of town. Within a minute, I was walking with more people than I had on the entire CP. The air was filled with holas, buenos dias, and buon Camino.

As I tried to take it slow, I had to step aside to let people pass. People were courteous but the sheer mass made me yearn for the handful of fellow CP travelers. A few of these new to me Caminoites were alone or in pairs. Most were in larger groups, some with guides. A few started beyond Sarria — the town on the French Way over 100km from Santiago that qualifies a pilgrim for a compestella certificate. They all seemed to be having a good time.

At the Stone Bridge
Mass Migration

The terrain is a series of gently rolling hills. By noon, I stopped for a small lunch at a bar that is the first refreshment establishment after the start in Melide. It attracted waves of Caminoites. More bars and albergue were less than 400 meters down the road. The town of Arzua is about 1.5 miles further. This route offers more than enough options though who knows in high season.

Rolling Hills — No Wind Generators

While finishing up my lunch, I kept seeing walker after walker come down the hill in front of me. Several decided to have a break as I did. I had a throwback memory to my running days when one would watch runners at the end of a race especially a marathon. The finishers kept coming one after another. The parade of walkers was a steady stream for hours.

At The Watering Hole

My day was short. I was in my hotel by 2 PM. I was a bit disappointed; it seemed like I wasted an afternoon. I laid back, made a call to Sharon, and didn’t wake up until almost 6. Perhaps the lingering after effects of the hard hikes on the CP.

Dinner started at 7 with two excellent courses: Sopa Gallegos and braised beef with onions and peppers. Dessert was Galician cheese and spiced apple. Cafe con Leche smoothed an easy day that brought me some more miles closer to Santiago.

Sopa Gallegos
Braised Beef

BUT I wrote too soon. As I walked up to my room, a bus pulled up. You can imagine the rest of the story.

School Trip

Day 11 (16 May) CP’s Last Day — 15 Miles

Golf’s most famous bridge is the Swilcan on the 18th hole at St Andrews Old Course. Here I was crossing the Ponte Romana on the last day of the Camino Primitivo. The bridge is located about 50 meters from the Casa da Ponte hotel. Although the CP will continue to Santiago after merging with the French Way in Melide, we have made it through the gauntlet of several hard days. We could relax on these final miles.

Crossing the Ponte Romana

The “we” was a band of five, four of us completing the CP (Bart from Belgium, Sam and Margot from Salt Lake City, and moi) and a newcomer Laura from Lugo. Laura was a biology graduate of the University of Santiago de Compestella (the other USC) with a teaching Masters degree. She found that teaching wasn’t for her. At the moment, she is scooping helados. She has applied for a Masters program in bioinformatics. She wanted to complete a Camino during this lull in her life. We hiked up to our last CP mountain with what else on top, wind generators.

Yes, One More Time

On the way, we stopped for some cafe at Casa Camino, a three room albergue that is luxuriously appointed. A German couple who love Spain bought this 800 year old building and completely redesigned the interior. I recommend this place to everyone! We took a group photo in the lounge area.

Happy Pilgrims
Magdalena, Co-owner
Camino Sign At Casa Camino

We walked on mostly on paved roads. We passed a happy door, appreciated the sign warning drivers that pilgrims were on the road, smiled at the small statue of St James at a fork in the path, and we were surprised by the iconic American symbol of Route 66.

Smiling Face
Pilgrims On Road
St James At The Fork In The Path
Route 66 In Galicia

Another two hours passed and the comida call came to our bellies. We stopped for cerveza (Bart and I) and agua con gas (Laura). We polished off our boccadillos (sandwiches) of chorizo and huevos with real crusty bread. Sonia was our gracious host.

Happy Puppies

A few miles more and we were in Melide. The time had come to say good-bye to Bart and Laura. We already said our farewells to Sam and Margot at our lunch stop. They had eaten at a cafe before ours and were staying at an albergue six km beyond Melide. The chances of seeing them all are slim because we will be reaching Santiago on different days, Thursday for them and Friday for me. So, our travel times won’t be in synch. It was sad to depart from those whom you shared the challenges and stories of the CP.

BUT I met up with Cristina and Jamie from Canary Islands. They were staying at an albergue right around corner. They will be arriving on Santiago on Friday, the same day as I. Over what else, cervezas, we planned meeting for a last supper st a restaurant Cris’s brother recommended — excellent food for the price. Until then, I will most likely be on my own surrounded by pilgrims from the French Way.

I end this entry with a photo that Bart took and sent me. I am up the road with Sam and Margot. The shadow in the foreground is Bart whose form looks like St James with a staff. Perhaps St James like Kobo Daishi was watching over us all along.

St James On The Job

Day 10 (15 May) Moguls — 19 Miles

Today’s ups and downs felt like mere moguls in comparison to the elevation changes in the Asturian and Galician mountains. I departed Lugo by 8 AM through the Porta de Santiago next to the cathedral. After I crossed the Rio Minho, I had my last look at Lugo with the two towers of the cathedral in the distance.

Golden Camino Marker
Porta De Santiago
Farewell Lugo

I was far more relaxed about this day. The distance was long but no high mountains were noted on the map. The route was almost 75% paved as opposed to some previous days of less that 25%. I made good time on average — about 21 minutes per mile. In the mountains, the average was 27-30 minutes. I missed the rough and raw nature of the mountains. However, this terrain expressed its own beauty.

Smooth Macadam
Off Road
Countryside Beauty

Another hour passed until I reached my hotel for the night: Casa da Ponte. Indeed, it is right next to a bridge if one uses a broad definition for a bridge. Cows could be seen across the street. Unlike any other hotel in Spain, I was asked my preferred time for dinner; 7 PM, I said. No problem. In the meantime, I sat writing this post while sipping a glass of Albariño.

Casa Da Ponte
Neighbors Across The Road

Dinner at the Casa da Ponte was simple and delicious. I shared my table with Bart from Belgium with whom I walked several times on this Camino. I had the vegetable soup while Bart chose the rice with mushrooms. For the mains, Bart had the chicken and I, the calamari. Given that Bart is Belgium, we asked for mayonesa for our papas fritas. Thumbs up to the kitchen staff.

Veggie Soup
Mushrooms and Rice
Calamari and Papas Fritas
Pollo and Papas Fritas

Breakfast at 8 tomorrow which will be the last day before the CP merges with the French Camino. More changes are in the offing.

Day 9 (14 May) Downhill To Lugo — 21 Miles

This day promised to be mostly downhill as we exited the mountains to the east. But first, one last serious climb over the ridge with wind generators that were in the background of yesterday’s last photo.

Today was the easiest and for some the last true day of the Primitivo because the challenging walks were behind us. Here’s Bernard, the carpenter, who is leaving the CP in Lugo. He was so pleased to have walked the CP. A dream fulfilled.

Bernard, The Carpenter

In two days, the Primitivo meets the French Way in Melide. The elevation changes are not as dramatic and the distances covered shorter. We’ll see what lies ahead. But let’s enjoy the moment.

Indeed, today was almost a walk in the park except we stilled covered 21 miles. The church in Vilabade was the most impressive since Grandes de Salime.


At the halfway point at Vilar, we stopped for coffee and Tortas Asturianos (similar to a pound cake) at the Pocina Muniz Albergue — highly recommended and a superb stopping point for those not heading directly to Lugo. I finally got a dose of puppy love. As Laird and I discovered on our Portuguese Camino last year, the dogs in Portugal and Spain do not understand English. They are really well trained and are often off leash. However, their owners must have told them to avoid strangers especially English speaking pilgrims.

Puppy Love At Pocina Muniz
Coming My Way?

Three hours later, we descended our final hill, crossed a bridge, and then made the steep ascent into Lugo. The city is the only one in the world that is completely enclosed by an intact Roman wall — a World Heritage site. There are 10 gates and 71 towers. The wall’s perimeter can be walked — about 2.5 km. One of the entry points is in front of the Lugo Cathedral.

Roman Walls
Walking The Wall
Lugo Cathedral

The day concluded with a dinner with Gabriel. Our walking duo began in front of the San Salvador Monestery in Cornellana on Day 2. We were both tired and were sitting on park benches with our shoes off. He asked me the direction of the Camino. I soon followed and we began walking together. Serendipity. Who knew ahead of time.

We ate two preparations of Galician pulpo (octopus), one grilled and the other braised in garlic. With dessert, that was enough given how many pilgrim menus we enjoyed during the past week. No bottle of wine was included. The price? We were definitely back in the big city.

Grilled Pulpo
Pulpo In Garlic Sauce

As I pass through the Gates of San Pedro, I will be less than 100km, the distance required to obtain a Compestella. Who knows what will happen in the final days of this Camino. We shall see.

Gate Of San Pedro
Less Than 100 km

Day 8 (May 13) Pilgrims Afoot — 19 Miles

You may have noticed that images of wind generators often appear in the blogs. Not surprising because they are located at the top of the mountain passes that the CP seems to draw a beeline to. They are the easiest access points those spots. Too bad King Alfonso’s scouts can’t collect royalties for having identified some of the best spots for these white towers.

From my hotel in A Fonsagrada, the fog briefly opened up and the sun shown on a long row of wind towers. I thought that here was the first target of our walk. They were 10 miles away. Sure enough in about 3.5 hours, we were climbing up towards them. We had an added show of seeing a dairy farmer move a calf and her mother to another corral.

White Towers In The Distance
Farmer And Calf

After cresting the mountain, we came upon a very small chapel. Inside was a statue of St James aka Santiago in the garb of a pilgrim. Periodically, statues of Santiago will appear by the Camino route — large and small. A wonderful reminder of why the Camino started and its enduring attraction to thousands.


We had not encountered our fellow pilgrims en masse on the route. Today, for whatever reason, it happened. The solo photo is of Pieter from the Netherlands. Married with three children, he seems to be constantly on the road. He’s walked nine Caminos. He has walked from his home in Utrecht, Netherlands to Rome on the Via Francigena (VF) and beyond to Sicily. He felt that he has completed the VF because the distance from Utrecht to Rome is equivalent from Canterbury to Rome (more than 2,000 km). He did mention that his wife accompanied him for some segments of these walks.

Pieter The Walker

While taking Pieter’s photo, other Caminoites came along. We have walkers from left to right: Latvia, Chile, US (PA), Germany, US (Utah) and Spain.

Walkers Galore

At Cafe Meson, a walker’s rest stop was a table of often seen walkers from left to right: Pieter — Netherlands, Ramona — Germany, Mick — US, Yoshiko — Japan, and Ilena — US.

Cafe Meson

We stopped as well for a coffee break. We met Marianne and H.A. from Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. They were on their fifth Camino. H.A. offhandedly told me that he was the oldest person walking the CP. “Really?” said I. “Yes, I’m 72,” said he. “Hum, I’m 75,” said I. I mentioned that Mick from Cincinnati with his back to us wearing a hat was 76. We all had a good laugh.

Marianne And H.A.

As an aside, I was told that I was the China guy (pronounced Chee-na generally applied to East Asians) who wore the green cap. Every person is described in shorthand and whether you walked alone, in a pair, or in a group.

After another two hours, we estimated that we were in the final few kilometers of reaching O Cadavo. You can’t see the town in the image below. I wanted you to see what we saw after 18 miles of walking. Remember stay in the present and don’t project what lies ahead. It is hard to do,!Luckily, it was just over the hill and not near the wind generators in the distance. We arrived at 4:30 PM.

Somewhere Over The Hill?

You won’t believe the end to this day. After settling into my room, taking my shower, and preparing for the next day, I was awakened from a nap at 7 PM to the sounds of a band playing what seemed to be 50’s Spanish music whatever that really is. In the event space directly below my room, about a dozen couples were celebrating their 50th anniversaries. The sound was deafening and the drum had that low bass thump, thump, thump beat.

I had a voucher to eat the hotel’s menu. I asked if the voucher could be transferred to another restaurant because I like quiet or what passes for quiet in today’s restaurant. No sympathy from the management. So, I went elsewhere for dinner with my walking buddy Gabriel — guy from Chile. Not such a loss given how much dinner costs in this region.

I started with a large plate of peas as my first course. Peas? Yes, peas and they were delicious. Two steaks of grilled hake followed plus potatoes. I ended with strawberry ice cream. I can’t think of when I last had this flavor. Add in a full bottle of white vino (half taken) and there you have it for 12 Euros. Amazing.

Grilled Hake

Dinner ended at 9:30. I returned to the hotel shortly thereafter hoping that the anniversary event would have ended. No go so I sat with Cristina and Jamie recounting the last few days on the road. By 10:30, they left to return to their albergo while I went upstairs. The last notes were played at 11. I didn’t know that old people could stay up so late. I can’t, for sure. Finally, another day ended.

Day 7 (May 12) Entering Galacia — 19 Miles

Rain started the day. Rain ended the day. It poured when we entered Galacia in the middle of the day.

Out of my hotel window, the backside of Grandes de Salime’s main church loomed in front of me. It was almost on top of me because the street was narrow. When I left my window open to cool my room, I heard the flat tone of the church’s clanging bell strike the hour and half hour throughout the night at the times when I was awake. I had to take a photo of this church that the many smaller churches seemed to have modeled on the Camino route.

Church Grandes de Salime

The rain came down in a steady stream as Gabriel, my now “official” walking buddy, and I made our way through the surrounding fields carefully balancing ourselves with our hiking poles as we zigzagged and hopped over stride length mud puddles. We slogged along at a greatly reduced pace ever alert for Camino markers that sometimes seemed to pop up here and there.

Left Hand Turn Point

Those of us who live in the Lehigh Valley are accustomed to seeing slate roofs or thicker pieces of slate used for sidewalk or patio paving. Sometimes, upright grave markers are slate. However, I have never seen a slate fence and in such a small hamlet as Castro — about five houses. The Castro Neolithic style hasn’t seem to have caught on anywhere else.

Neolithic Fencing Style

Our high point of the day was Puente de Arcebo at 3400 feet where the windmills are located in the next photo.

Puente De Arcebo

We had a slight break in the weather and took our raincoats off. Within minutes came the downpour that lasted for over an hour. During that time, we left Asturias for Galacia, the Spanish state located in the NW corner of the Iberian peninsula. Galacia’s Camino markers were recently installed. Unfortunately, the photo is a bit blurred because of the heavy rain and the fiercely blowing wind. We were in Galacia, the home of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compestella, pulpo (octopus) as its famous dish, and a world class white wine, Albariño.

First Galacian Camino Marker

We were soaked. We were cold. Gabriel put on waterproof winter gloves from Sweden to protect his hands. Mine were red — no gloves. We had no choice but to walk on. The unmanly option would have been to call for a cab.

Our destination, A Fonsagarda, was 9 miles away. We looked for a bar or restaurant where we could warm up with some coffee and take our raincoats off. We passed none for 5 miles. But then a sign appeared with two forks in the right corner. Food and shelter!

It turned out that the restaurant was packed with mostly men who were truck drivers or locals, working guys or ROMEOS (retired old men eating out). The others, Camino walkers that included all of the women, were eating or waiting in line for a table. Even though dining is a longer term proposition in Spain than the US, the tables were turning over.

We could order a la carte or go with the three course menu. Surveying the scene, the obvious choice was the menu. Choices were given and we both agreed on the fabada, the Asturian bean soup that I had been trying to order since day 1 as our first course. I was glad to see cross border sharing especially of a regional dish that is a source of pride among Asturians. In a word, the fabada was fantastic. Those beans were as large if not larger than lima beans. The soup came in a serving tureen. We both enjoyed two bowls.


Our second was squid in a rich prawn tasting sauce. We could finish about half of what was served though the ever present papas fritas were consumed. They were hot, crispy, and crunchy. I didn’t ask for mayonesa. I ate them neat or with the seafood sauce.

Squid In Seafood Sauce

We ended with fresh fruits. Gabriel drank a small bottle of Coke Zero while I was given an entire bottle of Albariño; I drank only half. What a loss to leave the remainder. The cost? Fourteen, yes, 14 Euros each.

Spanish Albariño

We left dry and more than satisfied. Towards the end of our final 4 miles, it started to rain again while we climbed up the 300 foot hill to reach the town. “It is what it is,” we said to one another. Living in the moment, we were almost at our hotels where a hot shower awaited and with delightfully full bellies. No dinner tonight.

Day 6 ( May 11) An Unexpected Reminder — 15 Miles

The morning started misty and colf. Breakfast was simply toast with butter and jam and an excellent pound cake, not sugary. To boost my energy level, I asked for cafe con leche (the Spanish version of cappuccino) but with two shots of espresso. I know that my Spanish is none too good. I saw that my host had raised eyebrows. She brought me my cafe con leche AND two separate cups of espresso. Did I have a buzz on when I walked outside.

Today’s walk required going over a mountain whose crest had rows of windmills followed by a lengthy descent to the crossing of a dam that created a major hydroelectric power station and reservoir and a final ascent to the town on the next mountain.

To reach the windmills, imagine walking up the equivalent of the Empire State Building that was covered in fog. About two thirds of the way up, an unexpected reminder appeared as graffiti written on the road — “the present is a gift.” I learned from my walks to try to live in the present. You can’t change the past and dwell in memories. Who knows what the future will hold. One can anticipate what may come but one should not expend energy on what may never happen. “It is what it is,” sums it up pretty well.

The Unexpected Reminder

At the top, the fog rolled in and out. I caught a glimpse of the windmills. Most of what I experienced was hearing the swooshing sound of the blades at they cut through the air. I read an article last month that said the blades spin at a maximum speed of 120 mph. What an amazing feat of engineering and construction.

Windmill At The Top

I was now on the descent towards the dam. The fog was still thick and created a visual drama.

Reservoir Over The Edge

The path snaked along the mountainside until I reached the dam. The midday heat had broken the fog with the sun behind the mountains. The resulting silhouette was a moment of beauty. The mountain in the far background was the one I had crested.

Alongside The Mountain
The Dam
The Reservoir

Six km remained of the walk with another 375 meters of ascent. A road side sign displayed the distance to Grandas de Salime where my hotel was located, the next major mountain pass for tomorrow’s walk, Puerto del Acebo, and Lugo. From Lugo, another 120 miles lay ahead to Santiago.

Roadside Distance Sign

On the road, I met a band of Lithuanians whom I had encountered two other times. They are long time friends and have traveled for years. Their next destination is Peru in 2024. I loved their exuberance — that’s youth. They left me in the dust,

Band of Lithuanian Caminoites

I arrived early at the hotel — about 2:45. I had the opportunity to surprise Sharon with a morning call EST, do my laundry, and take a nap before dinner. I met up with my walking partner, Gabriel. We went to the recommended restaurant where we saw several fellow travelers. For our three course menu dinner, we both chose the garbanzo soup for the first; the pork ribs for Gabriel and the cachopo (an Asturian specialty of breaded chicken filet with ham and cheese like our cordon blue) for our mains; and dessert. I asked for red wine and a bottle was brought (only a third imbibed in the end); and for Gabriel, two small bottles of Coke Zero. The total cost — 12 Euros each— completo including tax and service.

Garbanzo Soup
Pork Ribs
Vino Tinto

We also loved that the Restaurante A Relgada because it was “local.” To be honest, everything outside of the cities is local. Here were men playing cards two tables down from us. Throughout the evening, men came and went to play cards or drink and socialize at the bar. The dining area appear to have only Camino walkers. Today was a Thursday. I would bet that the restaurant will be filled with locals over the weekend. I saw an open reservation book as we left.

Card Players

Day 5 (May 10) Rocksylvania in Asturias — 15 Miles

A shorter day was in the offing but with a major climb to Puerto del Palo, 3600 feet. Indeed, fewer miles but more elevation changes. The sky was clear and Carolina blue.

We started off with a gentle rise on the road out of Pola de Allende. We were clearly on the CP when we saw a large sign displaying the scallop shell. The route took us off road along a narrow valley that eventually crossed the road leading to the Puerto del Palo. Note how quickly the sky changed.

Camino Primativo

Friends of mine who are experienced Appalachian Trail (AT) walkers clued me in that thru walkers refer to the Pennsylvania section as Rocksylvania. Having walked on the AT just west of Blue Mountain, I can attest that some parts of the AT have stretches of rocks waiting to sprain or break ankles. My fellow Caminoite, Gabriel, and I endured many miles of a rocky road as we ascended and descended the Puerto del Palo. But one feels the accomplishment of reaching the cold, misting, and windy pass.

Up To The Pass
View From The Top

On our way down, the earth was scorched black as far as we could see because of an enormous fire the year before. I later found out that the fire was deliberately set. The culprit has yet to be apprehended. Down our path, I took a photo of how the forest is starting to regenerate itself.

Scorched Earth

As we reached the end of our rocky road (about three quarters of the way to our destination), we encountered a young woman sitting on a rock. She told us that she was walking to Pola de Allende but had taken the wrong turn. Rather than choosing the rocky road up, she had walked straight on the flat road we were about to take. She was the first walker who was going in the opposite direction that I had encountered. She had been lost for three hours.

We pointed out the way that we had come from the pass at the top of the mountain. We estimated that she would need about an hour to get to the top and then another three and a half hours downhill to get to Pola. She had a forlorn look; she did learn a new American English idiom — she was “bummed out.” She was Johanna from Koln and had been on the road alone for two months. She had started from Lisbon. What gumption.

She slung on her backpack. We wished her well as she trudged up the path. We walked on and after a half mile looked back. We could see her and we could see how she could have missed the trail. My experience is that going in the opposite direction of a known trail is very difficult because directional signs at critical junctures are oriented in an intended direction. The problem was that no signs could be seen at this critical point but we could see a Camino sign up the road.

We walked another mile and the young woman caught up with us. She had decided that she did not have the motivation to make the final climb. She would return to her day’s starting point, our end point. She pondered whether to take transportation (bus, taxi) to Oviedo and start the CP from there to where she stopped or to continue walking over the Puerto del Palo the next day. We could feel her pain.

We eventually entered Berducedo. Johanna peeled off to find an albergue. Gabriel went on to La Mesa, the town down the road where he had a reservation, and I searched for Casa Araceli. Using Google Maps, I easily found my abode for the night. How did we survive on paper maps? I have learned a useful tactic in my older age — ask for directions. Somehow, women already have that in their survival repertoire. Sharon says males have the smaller Y chromosome.

Room At The Inn

Casa Araceli is adjacent to a pasture where cows were grazing. As you view the photo, look at the mountain crest in the far distance. That’s approximately where Puerto del Pola is located. I am always struck by looking back on some spot that I had just walked.

Looking Back To The Pass

My inn had picnic tables outdoors. While relaxing with a cerveza, Bernard whom I met on Day 2 came up with a glass of wine and sat down. He is 58 and started in his family’s carpentry business when he was 14. Now that he is heading the company, he can set his own work schedule and has the money to travel. He is fulfilling a dream to walk the Camino.

Just then, I heard Rolando — my Spanish name. Down the steps came Christina and Jamie. They have appeared several times in my blogs starting from Day 1. They were staying at a albergue in town but heard about the food at my inn. We shared vino and dinner together.

Cristina and Jaime

I did solve a mystery from the Portuguese Camino. If you read those blogs, Laird had to keep asking for butter when bread was served. In Spain, the general eating custom is that butter is acceptable at breakfast. Thereafter, it is not at later meals similar to no cappuccino after breakfast. I was told that using butter on bread especially at dinner is counterproductive to the tasting experience. Bread is used to soak up sauces. Butter would interfere with the flavors of the dish.

The wonders of traveling.