No amount of reading, or talking with other long -term walkers (although to be honest it’s quite a while since we met anyone who started from St Jean the same week as us), or self-talk prepared me for the hoards walking today.
Sarria is the starting point for many who wish to walk only the minimum allowed for the Compostela: the certificate which confirms you’ve made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
I’d been telling myself it would be quiet, relatively. And perhaps it is compared to July/August – but compared to our walking life over the last few weeks, it’s closer to the trail of tourists across Tongariro in the height of summer.
So what did I notice?
- School trips: kids between the ages of ten and fourteen, in groups of twenty to thirty with a few teachers managing things, or not. They were enthusiastic, energetic, and keen to get on with the walk, unlike my next observation.
- A group of adults, with ultra light day packs, fit and able every one of them, climbing out of a taxi at the top of the first hill outside Sarria!
- Walkers in large groups, generally not carrying packs, generally noisy.
- Smokers! To be fair they’ve been everywhere along the way. I felt a little sorry for the young man who lit up at the bottom of the hill from Sarria, only to grind to a standstill less than 100metres further along. I’m feeling less charitably disposed towards the young woman who saw fit to light up and then allow her exhaled smoke to drift over my food.
On the other hand, we were helped by a walker, who likely we’ll never see again. She took the time to explain to a local farmer why we were making a video of his cows. (We periodically do that, make goofy videos to send to the cutest almost two year old we know). After she interpreted there were smiles and handshakes all round.
And we did encounter a few longer term walkers. They’re generally on their own, or in pairs, their movements are economical, and they’re friendly, too, in a more subdued way. Like us they know now that tomorrow it will be a different set of faces.
We covered off the 14 or 15 kilometres to Ferreiros this morning, and have spent the afternoon enjoying the peace and quiet of this albergue.
It’s a little off the beaten track and I’d begun to hope it would only be us and two others. Wrong. The dorm has filled up in the time it’s taken for me to tap out my post. With blokes – every single bunk bed. Daunting, until they revealed their Italian charm, telling us we’re the true Peregrinos because we carry our packs.
It’s early evening, the cows are returning home, as they do. They farmer minding these told us he wants to make his Camino.
From Ferreiros we have less than 98kms to go. We’re going to do this!
Tomorrow we walk to Ventas de Naron – another 20+ks, which our Italian friends said is really 40 because we carry our own packs.