Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Welcome to Our Blog - Along the Camino Primitivo

This blog describes our walk along the Camino Primitivo in April-May 2022 over the course of 12 days.  We hiked from Oviedo to Melide to Santiago, Spain.  It was a wonderful experience that was unlike any of our previous pilgrimages over the years.  

We set out onto the Camino Primitivo after having completing the Camino Madrid and Camino San Salvador routes. 

Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy!

To read about our hike on the Camino Primitivo from day 1 onward follow this Link.

Thank you to everyone who has followed in our hike along the Camino Primitivo and our adventure! We hope you will join in following our other treks including:

To follow our 2022 hike on the Camino Madrid from day 1 onward follow this Link.

To follow our 2022 hike on the Camino San Salvador from day 1 onward follow this Link. 

To follow our 2019 hike on the Camino Finisterre from Santiago to Muxia / Finisterre follow this Link.

To follow our 2019 hike on the Camino Portuguese follow this Link.

To follow our 2017 hike on the Via Podiensis / GR65 follow this Link.

To follow our 2016 hike on the Camino Frances follow this Link.

For a sneak preview of some of the highlights of our trip, follow the link below to watch a 20 min slideshow of our walk from St. Jean-Pied-de-Port to Santiago de Compostela click here.

To follow our 2018 hike on Newfoundland's East Coast Trail (ECT) follow this Link. 

To follow 2019-2023 our 28,000km Expedition across Canada on the Trans Canada Trail follow this Link.

We hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Triumph, Challenge and Humbling Lessons : Arzua to Santiago

Without paying too much attention to the weather forecast we had planned to walk the final 38 km into Santiago today.  In the tradition of our first walk along the Camino Frances, we rose early and set off in the darkness around 6:00 am.  We knew it was Galician Literature Day, the 10th holiday that has occurred since we arrived in Spain at the beginning of April prior to venturing along the Camino Madrid, Camino San Salvador and onto the Primitivo, but we had assumed that at least one of the bars or cafés along the Camino Francés would be open to feed the masses of hungry pilgrims on their way to Santiago.  With a sinking feeling we walked down the dark and empty streets of Arzua at 5am and quickly realizing that everything was shuttered and silent. 
 
 
At the edge of town we passed a small Galician church with a stone cross.  The old way marker stood on a small grassy island in a pool of light from an overhead street lamp.  At this point a fine mist began to fall, and we stopped to put on our pack covers.  A few minutes later it became necessary to pull out the umbrellas, as the humid morning was too warm for rain jackets.  Little did we know that this was the driest we would be for the rest of the day!
 
 
The trail wove out of town and into a small forest stand where we found ourselves in almost total darkness.  Thankfully the path was relatively wide and flat, so we could just make out its winding contours without using our headlamps.  In the almost complete darkness we could hear a small stream bubbling and gurgling next to the path, and we could smell the sweet scent of a flowering tree or shrub somewhere nearby.  It was amazing what we could learn about our surroundings without the gift of sight.
 
 
As we emerged from the trees onto a country lane we could see the lights of Arzua stretching out across the horizon on the far side of a field.  The sky was just beginning to lighten, revealing heavy cloud cover stretching as far as we could see in every direction.  We had expected to find a line of headlamps stretching out in front of and behind us along the trail, but strangely we found ourselves completely alone in the warm, still, damp morning.  About 2 km out of town we passed the albergue in Pregontoño, hoping that it might be open for breakfast, but no one was stirring in the quiet countryside, not even another pilgrim. 
 
 
For most of the day the Camino paralleled the N-547, a mildly busy, two-lane highway that wound its way through the lush, green, hilly, pastoral landscape of Galicia towards Santiago.  We followed our gravel pathway through stands of old trees, walking between low, mossy, stone walls and under glowing green canopies of leaves high above our heads.  We also walked between lush green pastures, and rich brown fields in which neatly planted rows of seedlings were just beginning spout. 
 
 
As we crossed a pedestrian bridge over the highway on our approach to the tiny village of A Calzada it really began to rain in earnest.  Giant drops pelted down, bouncing off the hard surface of the trail and soaking our legs. We had hoped to take shelter from the rain and secure some much anticipated breakfast at the café and bar there, and we were in luck! We joined the small crowd of pilgrims who were already sheltering from the elements in the cozy and warm Casa Calzada, a long, low, light-coloured stone building tucked into the trees right on the side of the trail.  Together with everyone else, we took as long as possible to consume our café con leches and tarta de Santiago.  
 
 
When we headed back out the rain had diminished to a slow drizzle once again, which made for easier going on the quiet, treed country lanes.  Most of the walk to Calle O Outeiro was through forest, which was alive with birds frantically collecting food for their offspring.  It felt like we were surrounded by an abundance of exuberant life in the foggy and wet morning, the sounds of bird song nearly echoing off the wet vegetation.
 
 
When we reached A Calle de Ferreiros we came across a familiar landmark, but like everything else, it had evolved quite a bit since we first saw it in 2016 on our pilgrimage on the Camino Frances.  There is a small bar there called Casa Tia Dolores, which has an outdoor patio that used to be bordered by a stone wall topped with empty Peregrino beer bottles.  There are now so many empties that they've been used to create sculptures, including several horreos, as well as additional layers on the wall.  It was difficult to decide if this was an interesting and creative endeavour or an example of a quaint and charming idea that had been taken too far. 
 
 
Shortly after this point it began to rain again, so hard that the surrounding hills disappeared behind a wall of white.  The wind was driving the rain sideways in huge gusts, suddenly rendering the umbrellas completely useless.  Without rain pants it was a matter of seconds before water was draining down our drenched legs and into our shoes.  There was nothing for it but to keep our heads down and plough on through the field, heading for the shelter of the trees ahead.  After a short section of squelching our way along another footpath that traced the edge of the highway we came to Casa Tia Teresa in Salceda.  We didn't really want another coffee so soon after the first one, but it seemed worthwhile in order to take shelter for a few moments on the covered patio. 
 
 
With Sean left on the covered patio with our backpacks I went inside to pay for our coffees I witnessed one of those rare moments on the Camino that made me embarrassed to be a pilgrim, and to think about how I might be perceived by others.  There was a group of English speaking peregrinas – all identically dressed in the clothes of their tour company - eating breakfast while the driver for their group waited by the door.  One of the ladies approached the bar, stood within a few inches of me, and proceeded to repeatedly shout 'three more toasts' at the owner while he continued to prepare a coffee for another customer.  I suspect she thought that if she said the words even louder and more slowly that maybe a person whom she assumed only spoke Spanish would somehow magically understand her.  However, it came across like she was demanding immediate service from a person she thought was both deaf and mentally challenged.  While I tried to shrink into nothing, and made certain to thank the owner in Spanish for our cafe con leches, I took it as a strong reminder of the extreme importance of always greeting others with a smile and treating them with respect.  
 

 
The next 8 or 9 km to O Pedrouzo went by in a bit of a blur.  We were mostly following a dirt track among lush green fields covering rolling hills.  We passed through several small Galician villages along the way, many with pilgrim oriented artwork, pots of geraniums and other brightly coloured flowers, and blooming fruit trees.  Due to the weather we took little notice, and mostly kept our heads down as we squished and sloshed along.
 
 
Although we were soaked to the skin by the time we reached O Pedrouzo, we were trying to focus on the gifts today brought, and upon reflection they were considerable.  Yesterday the trail after Melide was crowded with pilgrims to the point where we were no longer enjoying our walk.  Today we saw a small increase in pilgrims being dropped off along the road when we passed through Salceda and it was only mildly drizzling.  However, as the rain picked up again we watched most of these walkers being whisked away to shelter by taxis and tour buses, and we soon found ourselves sharing the trail mostly with a smattering of very muddy but still cheerful cyclists, and a few hearty souls who we imagine have been walking since Saint Jean Pied-de-Port or some other distant starting point. We deeply appreciated the quiet trail, even if it meant sloshing along though uncomfortably wet conditions. 

 
When we reached the edge of O Pedrouzo we passed by a colourful Camino themed mural painted on a wall at the edge of a parking lot behind a warehouse.  It seemed very cheerful but it also occurred to us that this was a rendezvous point for the tour groups walking The Way.  The idea that we are walking the 'pilgrim superhighway' always leaves us with mixed feelings.  On one hand, all the amenities a pilgrim could want, from coffee con leche to a sandwich (including vegetarian food), are readily available.  Furthermore, English is commonly spoken by other pilgrims and locals alike, which makes things easier.  On the other hand, we really miss interacting with local communities and getting a glimpse of what life is like in Spain away from the popular tourist and pilgrim destinations. 
 
 
The officially marked trail doesn't actually go into the town of O Pedrouzo, so unless you are staying there, you don't need to detour into the town.  We had fond memories of our first stay near O Pedrouzo, especially of visiting a restaurant called 'Taste the Way,' but we decided against lengthening our hike due to the heavy rain.  Instead, we skirted around town on the official route, and dove straight into the old eucalyptus forest that we loved so much on our first visit in 2016.  
 
 
 
As we made our way under the towering, magical, ivy covered eucalyptus trees it began to pour again, turning the already saturated trail into a river of mud.  We watched a few pilgrims trying to weave between the puddles and streams of muddy water, but we quickly realized that by this point trying to 'stay dry' was completely futile.  There really was no way we could be any wetter, so we simply sloshed and squished our way onwards towards Santiago, ploughing straight through the puddles and rivers.
 
 
As with many long distance hikes, our final kilometers were filled with reflection, mixed emotions, and memories.  In this case, our minds strayed to the events of the past month, as well as thoughts of the first time we walked (or ran) this stage in 2016. During our walk along the Camino Frances, when we were arriving in Santiago de Compostela for the first time, we were so excited that we left O Pedrouzo in the dark and covered the last 19 km of trail in around 3 hours.  As a result, we didn't see very much of the last stage because first it was pitch dark, and after Monte del Gozo we were simply too excited and in too much of a hurry to notice much. 
 
This time we also didn't see too much, but this was mostly because we had our heads down and were hurrying along as much as possible in the torrential rain and high winds.  We sloshed through tall eucalyptus forests, crossed beautiful country lanes bordered by low moss walls, and passed through many tiny typical Galician villages. Perhaps one day we will find ourselves in a position to actually enjoy this stretch of trail.
 
 
When we reached the small Galician village of Amenal we were drenched through and our feet were starting to get sore from walking in wet shoes all day.  We decided to stop at the somewhat cheesily named Pension Bar Kilometro 15, which was a beautiful two-story stone building right on the Camino.  It had a nice covered patio outside, but when we carefully transported our cafe con leches and Santiago cake back outside we soon discovered that most of the tables and chairs were wet from the blowing rain.  A pair of pilgrims was occupying the only two dry tables - sitting at one table, each with their feet up on a second chair, and storing their backpacks and jackets on the chairs at the other table.  They gave us rather smug expressions as we looked around for a place to sit, but when we decided to simply plunk down at one of the wet tables, figuring our soaking wet pants had nothing to lose.  As the other pilgrims watched us choose they had the grace to look slightly sheepish. It felt good to take a break, and while we sat there a small Black Redstart hung around our table waiting for crumbs, nearly stepping on my foot at one point.  It would be the only decent picture of a bird I have ever taken with my cell phone.  
 
 
Reluctantly, we eventually decided to continue onward, following the forested laneway before crossing under the highway.  After leaving O Amenal we found ourselves approaching the Santiago airport.  As we followed a pretty flat stretch of trail through a stand of eucalyptus trees it began to rain once again.  We were just beginning to feel rather sorry for ourselves again when we followed the gravel trail around a rather busy traffic circle and came to a concrete sculpture that we'd forgotten about, but had been disappointed to miss the first time we walked the Camino Frances in 2016.  The 6 ft tall stone marker had a shell, a staff, and a gourd carved into it, and it stands at the entrance to the municipality of Santiago!  Even though there were still about 12 km or so of walking left, it gave us a real boost to see this well-known landmark in person, and to feel like we were finally approaching our destination!
 
 
Athough the airport and its runway ran right alongside the trail after this, it wasn't too obvious until a plane took off right beside us.  As we boxed around it and approached the red and white metal barrier at the end of the runway we had to smile, because the first time we walked here it was very early in the morning and still pitch black.  At that time we had no idea we were right beside the airport until a jet took off right above our heads, the sudden roar of its engines and blaze of its headlights as it swung around and unexpectedly sped towards us scaring us half to death.  At least this time we were better prepared!
 
 
By the time we reached Lavacolla we were thoroughly soaked once again, and although the temperature wasn't too low, walking in wet clothes for so long had left Sean shivering with cold.  We had only a vague memory of stopping in Lavacolla for breakfast on our first trip, but we found the concrete steps leading up to the church, and managed to find a bar to step into in order to warm up.  There are several stories associated with Lavacolla, which all refer to it as 'the washing place.'  Apparently pilgrims in the Middle Ages would stop here to wash in the river in order to arrive in Santiago clean.  The more savory theory is that Lavacolla comes from 'Lavar' which means 'to wash' in Spanish, and 'cuella' which means 'neck.'  The less savoury theory suggests that some pilgrim indulged in one last night of drinking and prostitutes before cleaning up in the river and having their sins forgiven in Santiago the next day.
 
 
We sat in the bar for a while warming up, but the atmosphere wasn't enjoyable.  In our efforts to escape the inclement weather we'd already had too much coffee to drink and this final cup tasted burnt and unpleasant.  We weren't in the sunniest of moods, and neither were the others in the bar, who seemed to go out of their way to glower at us as they dealt with the rainy weather too.  Given that the weather was no letting up and the fact that we were not drying out we decided to press on to get the final 10 km done, crossing over a bridge that spans the famous river where pilgrims once washed themselves as we left town.
 
 
As we left Lavacolla a heavy mist began to set in, shrouding the landscape in fog.  We climbed a hill out of the town on a forested pathway, walking as part of a steady stream of pilgrims.  We were heading towards Monte del Gozo, or 'Mount of Joy,' so perhaps it shouldn't have surprised us, but for the next 5 km or so we found ourselves steadily climbing.  We had no memory of this, but Monte del Gozo is, as the name suggests, a tall hill, and it is the place where pilgrims can catch their first glimpse of the double spires of the Cathedral of Santiago rising up in the distance.  
 
As we walked up and up and up on seemingly endless paved country roads, much of the landscape was shrouded in a dense bank of fog.  We caught glimpses of rolling hills rising up around us, and occasionally we saw lush green fields stretching out around us.  We walked through several small villages, and past a couple of bars and cafes which strangely seemed almost deserted.  As we approached Monte del Gozo the number of pilgrims on the trail began to increase, and we found ourselves unwillingly jockeying for position, passing larger groups of slower walkers when an opportunity finally arose, only to have them speed up and march behind us, pounding the pavement with their walking sticks and talking animatedly until we stopped racing to let them pass.  Amid it all one pilgrim began to freak us and other trekkers out, because he seemed to get very angry when anyone passed him, and he would run and race to overtake them again, only to turn around and start walking backwards smiling and staring at them as they walked behind him.  We stopped several times, pretending to check our phones or get something out of our packs, but he proved very difficult to lose.
 
 
When we got to Monte del Gozo we passed a truly enormous pilgrim complex.  The Albergue de Monte del Gozo has 400 beds, located in bunk houses that are arranged in neat rows like in a military encampment.  The Albergue Benvido Monte del Gozo offers 120 beds, and there is a third albergue with 68 beds.  At the center of these enormous albergues is what looks like a shopping mall, advertising everything from groceries, to a pharmacy, to a swimming pool, laundry, restaurants, and bars.  It must be like a small pilgrim city in there!
 
Also at Monte del Gozo is a very large green space, interspersed with trails.  The official Camino route seemed to continue straight, along the roadway, but you can divert into the park and come back to the road farther down the hill.  When we first visited, this green space was home to the Monumento de Juan Paul II, a huge metal modern art sculpture commemorating Pope John Paul II's visit to the site, but it has since been removed. If you take a 600 m detour through the park, you will still find two bronze statues of giant pilgrims pointing out towards the distant spires of the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral at the very spot where you can first see them.  In 2016 we were so excited to get to Santiago that we somehow didn't realize we needed to take the detour to this spot, and we missed it entirely.  This morning, the fog was lying so thick across the landscape that it completely obscured the view, and once again a light rain was falling.  We decided not to bother taking the detour, and instead continued down the hill towards the city itself.  Perhaps we will walk into Santiago again one day, and circumstances will bring us to that twice-missed viewpoint.
 
As we raced down the hill from Monte del Gozo we felt like our destination was just around the corner - like we had arrived.  What we didn't fully realize was that we still had another 5 km to walk to the cathedral.  On top of it, the accommodations we had booked were not on our way to the Cathedral, as we'd thought, but rather on the far side of it.  We crossed Barrio San Lazaro, following the sidewalks through a modern, urbanized zone that has grown up around the old town.  Many bars and restaurants lined the street, as well as office buildings, shops, and quite a few hotels.  We passed the church there, which used to be as far into the city as pilgrims with leprosy were allowed to walk.
 
 
Shortly after this point the arrows disappeared and were replaced with blue and yellow signs on posts marking the way.  We'd read numerous accounts of pilgrims getting lost in those final kilometers into the old city, finding themselves walking a ring-road instead of heading towards the cathedral.  We'd never understood how that was possible ... until we found ourselves following a huge ring road, clearly off The Way and not heading in the right direction.  So much for our third trek into Santiago being a triumphant march to the Cathedral – the ‘experts’ were soon lost.  Cold, wet, frustrated, and tired we took out the phone and Googled the Hotel Santa Clara, only to learn it was 1 km past the Cathedral, and there was no easy way to reach it through the maze of winding streets in the old town.  It was easier to find our way back to the Camino, follow the arrows to the square, and navigate from there.  Somewhat chastened for our arrogance we were a humbler duo of pilgrims as we rejoined the way 20 minutes later.
 
 
Arriving in the square in the pouring rain was an eye-opening experience.  I think the Plaza Orbradoiro, the large open courtyard in front of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, is one of the most joyful places in the world.  It is a spot where thousands of people arrive each day, filled with gratitude at having completed a journey that seemed impossible only a few short weeks ago.  It is a place where people gather together who have shared an experience, while at the same time each walking their own way toward becoming someone different, who they are just beginning to get to know.  Usually this square is filled with life, and joy, and people.  When we walked into it in the pouring rain there were very few people about, the few sodden pilgrims who were trudging in stopping to take a quick photo before continuing on to get dried off and warmed up.  At this point in our lives the arrival into Santiago is not the most important part of our Caminos, but it made us so incredibly grateful that the first time we arrived here, so filled with excitement and joy, we had found our perfect ending.  The Camino really does provide.
 
After a brief pause we continued on towards our accommodations. We had walked 38.5 km by this point, and we'd taken far more breaks than usual on account of the rain, so it was well after 4 pm by this point. Sean was well and truly annoyed with our choice of hotel, cursing the fact that we had to walk up another hill, curving around a seemingly endless ring-road and passing the Convento de Santa Clara before we finally arrived. He was ready to give up and go elsewhere when found the door firmly locked and no sign of reception or a bell.  I checked my phone and very gratefully found that the proprietors had just sent detailed instructions by WhatsApp on how to get in after hours.  Our room was on the third floor, which was very nearly the last straw for poor Sean.  However, when we finally opened the door, as so often happens after things go unexpectedly or wrong, we found the perfect place waiting for us.  
 
We had booked one of the least expensive rooms we could find, and hadn't paid too much attention to the details.  We were very surprised to find a small attic apartment, which would easily have slept six people.  It had a small sitting room with a sofa bed, another raised platform area where two people could easily have put out sleeping bags, a large and modern bathroom, and a double bed beneath a skylight.  We gratefully stripped off our wet clothes, had showers, and laid out our packs and gear to dry.  When we opened our bags we literally poured water out of the bottoms of them.  All that extra space let us hang up all our soaking wet stuff to dry - the perfect ending to a long, hard day.
 
We had been intending to meet Linten for dinner at 6 pm in front of the Cathedral, but we'd arrived so late that we didn't have time to shower, change, and get back to the Cathedral in time. Normally we wouldn't have minded a quick turn around, but we were so tired, sore, and everything we had was so wet that we simply couldn't make it.  As a result, we had to cancel, which did nothing to improve our spirits.  However, after a longish break and getting everything washed and hung up to dry, we eventually did have to head back out to get something to eat.
 
Image from Pilgrim Website
 
We wandered back towards the cathedral, passing the pilgrim office along the way.  It was just before 7 pm when they closed, but we noticed that there were only three people waiting outside.  The process by which you receive your credential is now completed in three parts - you pre-register online to get a munze which is scanned at the door, then when you arrive you are given a number, and then when your number is called you bring your stamped passport to a person inside, who issues your Compostela (or not).  This process sounded complex and time consuming, so when we realized that the late hour and rain had perhaps given us a window when the office was less busy than usual, we decided to step inside.  We had pre-registered, so our munzes were ready to scan, and we took our numbers from the machine and waited in the shortest line we've ever encountered in that office - perhaps six people were in front of us.
 
 
Being a gentleman as always, Sean had indicated I should take my number from the machine before he stepped up to take his.  A small gesture of kindness, the randomness of the universe, and events played out as they often seem to. 
 
 
I arrived at the wicket of an old retiree who spoke no English but went to great lengths to meticulously calculate the exact distance we had walked from Madrid to Sahagun on the Camino Madrid, from Leon to Oviedo on the Camino San Salvador, and from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela on the Camino Primitivo. She even thought to include the distance we walked on the Camino Frances between Sahagun and Leon - asking in Spanish if we walked it or took a bus.  She was extremely kind, and I could tell she wanted to ask about the unusual route, only we didn't share any common languages.  It took quite a while to confirm the official distances, but I came away from the office with my credential, my distance certificate, and a cardboard tube to carry them in.
 
 
In complete contrast - as luck would have it - Sean arrived at the wicket of a volunteer who also spoke almost no English, and clearly had had a long, tiring day.  She insisted that he must have started his pilgrimage either in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port or Irun.  She refused to acknowledge that either the Caminos Madrid or San Salvador were recognized pilgrimage routes.  Angry stamped over his 4 pilgrim passports (in excess of 20 times) without taking the time to read them.  She then proceeded to misspell his name on his Compostella (not Sean Morton but John Smith) and refused to give him a distance certificate since he hadn't started at one of the points she recognized.  In the end as Sean sought to purchase a tube to carry his Compostella out into the rain the official's co-worker told him to be quiet and folded his credential into quarters before handing back to him. Sean's usual bad luck had once again caught up with him in a heartbreaking way.  With a twist of fate I had received my documents in full with great kindness, while Sean had been told off, yelled at, and had the wrong name put on his Compostella.

 
When I finally emerged from the office, not yet knowing what had happened, it was to find Sean both crying and understandably fuming.  He had my cell phone in hand emailing a pilgrim organization which we are members of about the incident.  This organization would respond later that night with their initial email being that “this was a wonderful learning experience for” him noting “what a joy it must be to have experience such a learning opportunity on the Camino!”.   Not the empathetic response that one is hoping for when looking for help in a moment of frustration.  Their subsequent emails would have a similar tone and almost no acknowledgement of the challenges of the situation after more than 1000 km of trekking across Spain.  
 
Later on, Sean would also email the pilgrim passport office to ask if there was any way he could go back to get his distance certificate and a replacement Compostela that wasn't folded.  The response received a day later was “that the pilgrim office never makes a mistake, that everyone gets the Compostela they deserve” and went on to chastize Sean for requesting a new document as “it was inappropriate to request a second Compostela”.    
 
 
Perhaps this was a lesson.  Sean has often said that he isn't walking the Camino for a piece of paper.  On many levels the Camino has nothing to do with a piece of paper - the lessons you learn, the gifts you give and receive, the memories you carry with you, and the people you meet have nothing to do with a piece of paper.  This is the simple truth, but both of us still walked into that office, and when you are denied the piece of paper, I think it makes you realize that maybe it still is a little about the piece of paper and about having your achievement be both recognized and acknowledged.
 
Perhaps this experience will serve as preparation for what is coming in our lives off the Camino.  If all goes well (fingers crossed), we will finish walking the east-west portion of the Trans Canada Trail this fall, having hiked almost 15,000 km from Cape Spear, Newfoundland on the Atlantic Ocean to Victoria, British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean.  There will be no cathedral at the end, we will likely have no one to celebrate with, and there will be no certificate of completion.  We will have our memories, and the knowledge that we accomplished something only four people have done before us, and we will have each other.  This year really isn't about a piece of paper or acknowledgement.  
 
 
After the debacle at the pilgrim office we went in search of food and wine, finding a lovely tapas bar tucked away on a quiet backstreet.  We ordered a tomato and cheese salad, patatas bravas, and pimientos de padron, together with red wine.  It was a lovely meal, and the owner was very kind. When we were finished we wandered back towards the cathedral, walking the streets of the old city, and eventually turning into a small bar on one of the main streets.  I texted Linten on the off-chance that he might want to meet for a late drink, and settled down a small table.  The couple next to us began talking to us, asking where we had walked from, and sharing stories of their Camino.  Unexpectedly Linten joined us!  It was so nice to see him again, since health issues had prevented him from walking some of the final stages of the Primitivo, and we'd sort of lost track of where he was.  We were so glad he made it, and we were very tickled to receive an invitation to his 80th birthday celebration next year, which he plans to spend in Santiago!
 
In true Camino fashion Linten knew another couple who was in the bar, and they came over to join us.  At some point Lintin left for bed, but we remained, talking with the two couples we had just met.  It wasn't the ending to our Caminos we had expected, but it turned out to be a wonderful night of impromptu conversation, and it left us with a lot to think about.  It has been a very long day, full of unexpected twists and turns.  Tomorrow the rest of our 'Camino family' should arrive in Santiago, and we will wait for them, hopefully having the privilege of sharing in the completion of their journeys.
 
Distance: 39.5 km
Accommodations: Hotel Santa Clara

Welcome to Our Blog - Along the Camino Primitivo

This blog describes our walk along the Camino Primitivo in April-May 2022 over the course of 12 days.   We hiked from Oviedo to Melide to Sa...