Our theory about the more relaxed nature of small hostels holds true – I am the first up and about in our dorm this morning and its after 6.30 am. The breakfast included with our room turns out to be basic but the cup of tea and toast is welcome nonetheless, as is the promise of sunshine as we head down towards Sarria. We walk through the town hoping for chocolate and churros for second breakfast, but no luck :-(.
The number of new fellow pilgrims joining the Camino here is evident from the huge number of Albergues and hostels in town and the stream of pedestrians leaving it. We’re a bit dismayed by the density of people on the first ascent out of Sarria but it soon becomes clear this is something of a bottleneck and people spread themselves out. Unlike yesterday, we are nearly always in sight of other walkers, but it only feels crowded when we stop for a cold drink or for lunch. Many more people in groups now and many more with only small packs, the rest of their luggage being transported by car – we have to fight a sense of superiority! Perfect walking today – sunny and warm but not too hot.
We walk only 21 km today as we want to stop this side of Portomarin in the small Albergue at Mercadoiro. Suits me, as my blisters are sore again. I wonder whether they make walking boots with approproate arch support for people whose feet pronate differently? I suspect my worst blisters are the result of walking, as I do, on the outside edge of my feet. We take arch support for granted in running shoes and it seems obvious it might help avoid the same problems on an extended walk. Maybe this is the way to make my fortune! Rosie’s mouth is less painful at last so we chat more, largely about the plot of the zombie novel for teenagers which is, apparently, to see her into the New York Times best sellers’ list. I can’t reveal more than that!
Today’s route takes us up and down through the Galician countryside, along shady lanes with wild flower verges and meadows to make you weep. We pass the all-important 100 km marker after our lunch break and now have just 98 km to go. Tonight’s Albergue! La Bodeguina, is a new conversion of a very old building in a tiny hamlet – basic but clean, with small rooms and comfortable beds and a promising-looking restaurant next door. We are glad to have stopped walking early as the 30 beds soon fill up. Taking a brief siesta in the hammock outside, I am soothed by the sounds of birdsong and crickets, with a tractor in the far distance. Many of the people at last night’s Albergue also turn up over the course of the afternoon and I suspect we’ll see more of them as the week goes on! Sitting here, have just seen my first pilgrim with a pushchair – that looks like hard work!