Sunday, May 1, 2016

El Camino de Santiago de Compostela Day 9.

It was hard to crawl out of a warm sleeping bag into the cold, but ‘early to bed, early to rise’ and we had to start early to get through our planned 22km today. I left my bag again for the transport service and we started walking, without even a coffee! Through a lot of  farmyards: dairy operations: Holstein, Charlebois cattle and the farm smell was strong in the air. I remembered Matthias’ warning: ‘Don’t drink the water when you get to Galicia!’ and now I knew why: the groundwater and many open fountains along the way must have a lot of fecal contamination.
After a couple hours, we crossed our biggest bridge and river yet to Portomarin. We could see the town from a long distance, especially its 12thCentury Romanesque square block church in its centre. It had originally been down in the valley, but was moved and reassembled up the hill stone by stone after a dam built below flooded the area.
We tried to shop for breakfast, but we knocked on a sign-said abierto = open, but really-closed store, only to have the owner come running after we’d moved on.  So we got some fruit, yogurt and cheese, sat down outdoors to eat and suddenly: our 2 Deutschers = German friends appeared! One was not well, so they’d stopped for the night and didn’t look like they were going to go too far today either. Sickness will do that – even to a peregrino!
We finished coffee and then began a steady 8 km climb uphill. Now we met 2 groups of Chinese students and 3 older Barcelonans, must have been in their 70s, who literally charged up the hill ahead of us and kept right on going!
The wind grew steadily stronger and colder as we climbed and when we reached Ligonde, we were tired and our albergue was truly a welcome sight! The door was open but nobody home, so we put our stuff in the dorm.
Someone drove by and told us: ‘Isabella will come!’ So we waited and waited until …inadvertently the door closed behind us and suddenly our stuff was locked in and we were locked out – in the cold!
And that’s where my verse came in: ‘Let us run-walk with patience the race = Camino set before us’ (Heb 12:1). Impatience comes naturally, patience comes through trials and tribulations and just when you think you’ve got it, you find you need more.
I became unreasonably impatient. My pack was nowhere to be seen; Isabella, whoever she was? was nowhere to be found; and now the door was closed and locked tight and we were outside!
And that’s when I learned again to put the 2nd part of the verse into practice: ‘looking unto Jesus.’
We prayed.
Then Michael went to check on another albergue up the road. After 20 minutes, he returned – with my packsack! 
Things were looking up! Finally, after I guess I’d learned enough patience for this day, Isabella showed up too.
She opened the door and our problems were solved. Amazing what power a key has! The water was caliente = so HOT we even washed our clothes, hung them on the line outside and the wind was so strong, they dried quickly! She phoned ahead to arrange for tomorrow’s pack pick-up and when we returned after supper at a nearby bar-restaurant, she also left us in charge of  her whole albergue because we were the only ones staying that night!
‘Just close the door behind you,’ she said. After our afternoon experience, we knew that this door closed and locked!
It was even colder than the previous night, so we crawled into our warm sleeping bags early.
The moon shone so bright through window, I thought it was already daylight at 2am!

Suffice it to say: it was a long night.

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