On the Camino, there are many slugs. You’re welcome, Colleen.
“Oh Camino you make me laugh but you can make me cry,” said the older woman as she struggled down the steep and rocky slope towards town. I think many of us have felt this way at some point along our journey but this morning as we set out on what was to be our longest stage, about 25km from Portomarín to Palas de Rei, the outlook was generally positive. After the rest day we were all feeling pretty strong and ready to start our final days of walking. A few minutes into our walk the cloud cover broke giving way to bright sun. I found myself in the unusual position of walking in a group, specifically with Brian and Professor Bucar. The first 8km of the day flew by as we walked and chatted about our newly coined words ‘pilgrimness’ and ‘pilgrimy’.
The group met up at a café for a warm drink and a quick rest and then we were on our way following Manuel to El Castro de Castromaior, an ancient (4th century BC) archaeological site just off the Camino. We explored the site for a while walking through the ancient streets and climbing on walls. We hiked a bit to rejoin the Camino much to the surprise of the pilgrims already on the trail who probably wondered who all these people climbing out of the woods were.
The rest of the 10km walk to where we stopped for lunch was typical, which for me means walking alone and witnessing charging cows. This time the participants in the intense encounter were a cow and a taxi. A herd of cows was being moved from one pasture to another and, as cows do, they were meandering slowly and generally lulling about in the middle of the road. Meanwhile a taxi, accustomed to this roadblock, reached the cows and although I had no idea how he would possibly make it through, he slowly but calmly continued driving. The cows parted and moved around the car allowing him to pass. Suddenly, one cow had drifted away from the herd turned and began sprinting straight at the taxi. The taxi stopped. The cow continued. When it realized that the taxi wasn’t going to back down the cow tried to stop, its hooves skidding across the pavement in a desperate effort to slow its massive bulk. It finally slid to a halt just inches from the taxi and there was a moment of intense staring between the driver and the cow. Then, as if nothing had happened, the cow moseyed on in the direction of the herd and the taxi continued along the way. Just another bovine encounter on the camino.
The rest of the day was comparatively uneventful. After lunch as we began the final 7km of the stage, the inevitable rain began again – although not with the intensity of last week. As we reached our hotel for the night we realized that we had survived our longest day and I think all of us are beginning to see Santiago within our reach. 66km to go!
Katie Krajovic – Linguistics