Friday, July 03, 2009

Day 35 - Portomarin - Sunday, 24 May 2009

Sarria -> Portomarin = 26K (Under 100K now: just 90.4K to go!)

I was up about 0600 – too much snoring and snorting in the room. With only 5 roommates I thought it might be quieter.

I walked across Sarria, where King Alfonso IX lost his life on his way to Compostela. He founded the city and gave it his name and then ended up dying there. I did not linger there, but stopped for an al fresco breakfast at the top of the stair steps on the pilgrim route. I ran into “Herr Gummischuhe” there and at the next coffee stop S. (the Irish woman) and J. (a German woman) joined us for the rest of our day’s walk.

The day was damp and rainy and we moved along quickly. The pilgrims who only walk 100K are pretty obvious. They are so clean and many of them seem rather humorless and sober. Those of us with hundreds of kilometers under our belts are getting almost giddy with delight: less than 100K to go! It seems like nothing. We laugh and joke and draw ugly looks from some of the pilgrims who just began the walk.

One 100K pilgrim singled me out. “Wow, you have a tan,” he says in a dear Irish accent. “You are a real pilgrim! Can I take your photo?” So our motley crew posed for a photo. We encounter many Irish pilgrims. They invariably comment, “Galicia looks is just like Ireland, only the mountains are smaller in Ireland.”

My left leg gives me pain. It is quite uncomfortable, perhaps from the long, swift walk yesterday. I struggle to keep walking. When we stop I realize my ankle is swollen and my SmartWool socks are constricting my leg. I fold the socks down to relieve some of the pressure and continue walking.

We arrive in Portomarin and check into the albergue. S discovers she has left her pilgrim credential at the albergue in Sarria. While she and my other companions make phone calls and take care of that situation, I collapse in a chair and peel off my left sock. My ankle is quite swollen.

The albergue at Portomarin has the look of a large hospital ward – bays of bunk beds with every four rows flanked with white privacy curtains. It is a huge facility with hundreds of beds. There is a wonderful view of the lake below and there is a pleasant place to dine next door.

I head over to the restaurant with J. and several other pilgrims join us, including my Canadian buddy (whom I first met at the scary albergue in Rabe) and the young Priest from Indiana and the Danish woman who lives in Spain and a few other familiar faces. The place is filled with pilgrim faces I recognize.

I call it a night rather early, hoping my leg will be back to normal tomorrow. I hope the cold rain will blow over.

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