Day 46 on the Via de la Plata
One day to go / 22km to Leiras
My penultimate night on the Camino and I barely slept.
For the first time on the entire walk, it was so warm in the evening that I didn’t need my sleeping bag at all; however, that quickly went from quite nice to thoroughly horrendous.
I’d collected a few midge bites sitting outside in the evening the day before yesterday. They’d been fine until the heat last night massively aggravated them. I don’t think I’ve ever been bitten by midges before and without a doubt they are so much worse than mozzies or bed bug bites (which I also got, of course). I think this might actually have been the worst part of the whole trip, worse than getting possibly minor heat exhaustion.
I think the heat sent everyone a bit loopy too, one woman could not deal with the snoring and kept commenting very passive-aggressively and very loudly about it, as if that would help.
Unsurprisingly, the day was a horrendous struggle and it felt like it was my most challenging day. I think I was just tired and hot though.
I got up early again and decided to skip breakfast to walk in the sunrise, despite yesterday’s problems. I did not regret it for a second though - it was a stunning morning. I’m not sure if it felt so beautiful because tomorrow is my last day walking, or if it was just genuinely beautiful. Probably both.
I met some friendly horses early on, astonishingly gorgeous, the colour of sand. Of all the animals I’ve met thus far, it’s the horses that have been the most memorable.
I arrived soon after at a cafe and just as I was eyeing up, it opened. Perfect timing. After a very tasty breakfast, I set off again. I was relieved that a lot of the walk was through the woods as it had started to get hot very quickly, even in the shade. Through the woods I went and over a deep-blue river, where I found a little door-shaped hole in the wall. I couldn’t resist exploring, so I went through and was led to the edge of the river, where I sat for a time taking it all in.
In the afternoon, the heat really got to me and I was completely done. That’s the problem with doing a long-distance walk though; when you’re completely done, you still have to go on. It was an afternoon of focusing on one foot then the other and drinking all the water, so conscious that when I’d gotten heat exhaustion before, it hadn’t been close to this level of heat.
The albergue I’d chosen to stay at today was a small private guest house run by an Italian family who also provided a vegetarian dinner. It was based outside of any village and sounded glorious. I was walking so slowly though, and was anxious that it would be full - I’d not seen a single pilgrim soul on the route and was wondering if they’d all gone ahead already and filled up the albergue, considering the one last night had been totally full.
It was a pleasant surprise then, when I finally hobbled in after 5 pm, that the entire hostel was empty and it was likely that I'd be the only one there for the night. We waited for a while but, as predicted, no one else showed.
I enjoyed the most delicious pasta with broccoli (vegetables! Rejoice!) and the cheesiest egg omelette with actual peas. Magical green food.
I will admit, having the whole guest house and evening completely to myself was lonely. All the same, I appreciated it greatly after last night.
And if last night had been my worst night, tonight’s the best. It’s so quiet and all I can hear are the noises of the wild earth; the tall grass rustling, crickets calling and bats flying. What a way to end my last night on the Camino.
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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