Day 30 : Ribadiso de Baixo to Pedrouzo

Steve : A reasonable night’s sleep, in spite of the snoring. We get up and ready ourselves for departure. Everything we own got a good soaking yesterday. All our gear has more or less dried out, apart from, sadly, our shoes. We stuffed them with newspaper last night, which does a good job of sucking out the moisture, but my left shoe still squelches when I walk. It’ll be fine in a few kms.

Roughly 30km to do today, so we look for a cafe for breakfast #1 and find a nice one in Arzua…

The cafe is attached to an upmarket albergue. Well dressed and sleek middle aged peregrinos in starched and pressed hiking gear are getting ready.

We consume toast, orange juice and coffee and we’re off…

I haven’t taken too many photos over the last few days, mainly due to the lashing rain, but above is a panorama of Galicia.

We walk through forested paths and stumble upon another cafe near A Calle, perfect for breakfast #2. Here we see the huge increase in peregrinos since Sarria.  They are on Day 4 of their short 100km walk and they are, probably, wet and miserable.

We try and book ourselves an albergue for the night but everywhere in Pedrouzo seems to be full. Hamish gets on and we find ourselves a Pension, a small cheap hotel and book a triple room for 60 euros. A little expensive but better than tramping the streets looking for three empty beds.

The cafe is very busy…

Peregrinos everywhere…

Later, we determine that it’s round about now that we reach our one millionth step. But we don’t know that just yet…

We power on up the trail, passing through some ancient trees…

Tall trees #1
Tall trees #2

J and H are having a surreal conversation about how they would survive a zombie apocalypse, and H wonders if vampires would be able to survive on other planets with a different sun.

I follow along, as we race through the crowds, and I marvel at my legs ability to carry me at this pace, and I have a major CALS* moment.

We arrive in Pedrouzo and find our pension. Our host is a star – super enthusiastic and helpful. He tells us that this small town has a population of some 400, almost all of whom are involved in the peregrino business. He reckons there are 2000 beds in Pedrouzo and they are all full tonight. Looking at the hordes on the trail, I can believe it.

We go to our room, unpack, and arrange for some laundry to be done. The room is splendid…


Jen falls asleep whilst H and I do techie things. We emerge around 3pm to try and find some lunch and we find a terrific cafe called ‘Taste The Way’…

‘Taste The Way’

…that does a Peregrino Menu with veggie options. We eat ravenously.

We are in seafood country here, specifically octopus. You see them in big tanks in the windows of restaurants awaiting execution. Yuck.

Back to the hotel. Our TV has a USB port so we plug in my stick and watch ‘The Lady In The Van’. Ideal pilgrim entertainment. Then a trip to the vending machine for some junk food and we set up ‘Margin Call’ as movie #2. The antithesis of a peregrino movie!

We were going to attend the pilgrim mass at the local church but the movie is too interesting. Oh well.  Like I said, we walk through the country and experience almost none of it….

Dinner time arrives and we go out to try ‘Taste the Way’ again to discover that it’s closed for a private event. We find a horrible cafe, eat horrible salads and go to bed early.

Sleep is hard to come by, in spite of the comfy beds and duvets. Tomorrow we will be there.  We will have reached the end of our trail.

I check my watch and it reads 03:16.  I wonder if it’s a message…

*CALS, Camino adjusted lachrymosity syndrome

I’m not dead yet

Way back in the donativo in Bercianos I said to my fellow peregrinos that I was doing the Camino to prove to myself that I’m not dead.

As we approach Pedrouzo I feel more than simply not dead. I feel completely alive. My 56 year old legs have walked 1,000,000 steps on this trip and they feel great. This is what they are supposed to do. Walk. Move.

I follow Jen through the hills of Galicia in the rain. We are in amongst a huge group of new pilgrims, doing the Sarria section. They are a strange combination of slow and competitive. Small groups of young men see Jen approaching and they try to speed up to avoid the ignominy of being overtaken by a girl, and a 5ft 4in girl at that. They can keep her at bay on the downhill and on the flat but on the uphills they have no chance. Jen powers on by with Hamish and me following in her wake. We’ve been walking for five hours now and haven’t been overtaken once. It makes me smile.

Cartesian dualism be damned! This body is me and I am this body. We are one and the same. This bag of bones and skin and organs is working like a Swiss watch. Everything is in its place. The rain is making the path slippery but the eyes send messages to the brain and the brain tilts the leg and the foot just… so… and the foot hits the ground in exactly the right place. And again. And again. Thousands of times.

And suddenly I think of the two members of this family who are not here, whose bodies do not work like a Swiss watch and who will rarely, if ever, feel such utter joy in simply walking.

There’s Muriel, who has turned a life blighted by ME into a shining example of how to deal with adversity. And then there’s Alister…

Oh Lord, Ali…

I am grateful for the rain as it hides the river of my tears.

1,000,000 steps

Well, it looks like we did it. Sometime around when this picture was taken at this morning’s second breakfast…

Cafe dog gets lots of attention

… we walked our one millionth step on the Camino.

I’m wearing a Fitbit and have been recording steps, amongst other things, since we left St Jean.  When we started this morning the cumulative step count was 989,060. The cumulative count right now, as I type this in Pedrouzo, is 1,019,088. By our calcs the 1,000,000 mark was passed around Cafe Lino, near A Calle, where the photo was taken.

One million steps. Hmmm.

We all skipped the 70 km from Santo Domingo to Burgos. Jen has taken a few buses and taxis due to her foot issues. I jumped from Leon to Hospital de Orbigo and accompanied Jen on her bus and taxi trip to Herrerias. But Hamish has walked everything bar the Burgos jump. So he’s probably walked another 60,000 steps on top of the one million.

Jen says, hopefully (and possibly, accurately), that she’s walked more steps because her legs are shorter. When we get back home we’ll do some experiments to see if she’s right.

But, as of right now, we lie on our comfy beds in a Pension in Pedrouzo and feel the satisfaction of the righteous.

Everywhere is indeed walking distance, if you have the time….