Day 40 on the Via de la Plata
20km to Vilar do Barrio
The next day was not as enjoyable, partly due to the weather, partly due to the atmosphere. I left later than the others but got caught up with a large group of walkers who lingered behind me and kept pace for a long, long time. All I could hear was their voices and footsteps. I don't know why this grated on me so much but it was vexing, like when you hear people chewing food loudly.
I slowed down and took the scenic way through a sweet, small village where I thought I'd managed to let them pass, but they suddenly appeared again behind me. Urgh! I’ve become too used to walking alone I think, or maybe I was just having an anti-social day.
I finally managed to get out of their range just in time for The Steep Climb. And damn it was steep! It seemed to go on forever, up and up and up, but the views were entirely worth the struggle. The sun peeked in too, but it turned out to be a false hope. The higher I walked, the darker, wetter and more dismal it became.
There must’ve been strong storms recently too since much of the trail was surrounded by fallen trees. One part was totally covered! Nothing too egregious though, and I and two pilgrims from Germany had a bit of fun scrambling over the trees.
Finally, the rain that had been threatening to show up the past few days appeared, and it came just as I reached the top of the climb where I also found a strong, bitter wind.
Happily, there was some shelter in the form of a small village and an open cafe. It was only a quick stop for a small lunch, bread and cheese, but the chance to warm up was welcome. Getting dry? That was another matter. By this point, my walking boots were well worn and were even talking to me as I walked - yes, there a lovely big gash in the side of one boot. My feet were soaked to the skin, and I tried not to think about how long there was left to go in the day. In the grand scheme of things, though, it wasn’t much time at all before I wouldn’t need to put these boots on again.
The bar was an exciting place - it was covered floor to ceiling, and the ceiling itself too, in pilgrim shells signed by hundreds of pilgrims past. I left my name there on a shell along with my two new pilgrim friends.
The rest of the day was slow-going, cold and wet, but it wasn’t raining so hard and the wind died down when the trail started to descend. The views, as always, stunning. I ambled into town slowly, and of course, this is when the weather finally began to clear and the sun began to shine down. I didn’t mind too much; better to have good weather to unwind in post-walk.
I had a dilemma now. I’d needed to change my plans due to the closed albergue before but it meant that my route was messed up now; tomorrow I’ll either have to smash out the 37km to Ourense and take the rest day that I'd planned, or I’d have to split the day into two short days and miss my rest day to make it in time to Santiago for the 15th.
I’d booked my flight home and train tickets to go see family down the road already, plus I’m also due to meet up with my cousin in Ourense… So, I’ve decided to do the long day - also just to see if I can. Eek! Wish me luck.
Until next time,
Hey! Ameena here - I’m a freelance portraiture and documentary photographer based in London. I enjoy telling stories about adventure, the outdoors, and our relationship with the natural world.
In this newsletter, I’m digitally retracing my steps on the Camino de Santiago. From March to May 2019, over 45 days, I walked over 900km along the Via de la Plata (the Silver Way) route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.
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