Barbadelo – Portomarin

Walkers move through the morning mist and rain

Walkers move through the morning mist and rain

Unlike O Cebreiro, Barbadelo was on the edge of a low valley. On waking, the day outside looked miserable. It was raining and there was a lot of cloud and mist. It was cold and damp. There was nowhere to get breakfast so I heated some coffee in the utensil-free kitchen using my own pots.

As I sat on the steps of the albergue many walkers past in the murky morning light. I saw Valentin and his horse Cameron go by. Setting off, the atmosphere was one of mystery as the mist swirled around. The Way continued through woodland on small pathways and as the sun tried to penetrate the mist, it was the light that provided the mystery.

Ray strides out along the Camino

Ray strides out along the Camino

Two walkers in the early morning mist

Two walkers in the early morning mist

The 100km marker is finally reached

The 100km marker is finally reached

After a few kilometres there was a cafe where I had some good coffee. Many were there warming up. I continued in the mist and was fascinated with the dripping trees and erie feeling to the day. What followed was a succession of small villages. The Camino was busier now and I discovered that many more people had started their walk in Sarria. As a result there were many more cafes and restaurants starting to appear along the route.

As I walked I was filled with anticipation of arriving in Santiago de Compostela. It had been many weeks since setting off from Le Puy-en-Velay in France, and the prospect of completing the walk was now very real. I spent a lot of time thinking about all the people and places I had encountered along the way. I thought of the physical difficulties in the heat of France and the mesmerising ancient monuments, churches and visions of history along the Camino. Today I would reach a marker that would indicate that it was only 100km to Santiago de Compostela. There was a feeling of excitement and of calm.

It wasn’t long before I came across the 100km way marker. It was a little disappointing as it was covered in inscriptions and messages from the many pilgrims that had passed before. It was more like graffiti. I took a photograph anyway. Continuing, I passed a few small shops that sold souvenirs from the Camino. There were tee shirts, scallop shells and bags in many colours. It was a little sad that the Camino had become a commercialised but no doubt it was a useful source of income for the people living in the small villages. Apart from agriculture, there was little industry in the area.

Bags and gifts for sale on the Camino

Bags and gifts for sale on the Camino

Colourful painted scallops of Saint James

Colourful painted scallops of Saint James

A cross deep amongst the woods

A cross deep amongst the woods

As the morning went on the mist burnt off with the help of the sun. Before long it was all blue sky with the prospect of another hot day ahead. I stopped in Moutras at a small albergue. The albergue was new and not yet open but did sell cold drinks at the front door. I put my one Euro coin in a box, took a drink and wandered inside. The owners were from Scotland and there were others hurrying to clean up the albergue for the arrival of Galician Television later in the afternoon. The albergue would open soon to walkers and the local news was to cover it.

Meeting up with Takumi before Portomarin

Meeting up with Takumi before Portomarin

After Moutras, I caught up with a familiar face. Takumi, from Japan, was walking as fast as usual and overtook me before pausing realising he knew me. We had first met many weeks before in Estaing in France, and many times since then. True to form he had his notebook in hand and was noting things down as he walked. It was good to see him again! We walked into Portomarin together.

Portomarin was a medium sized town on the edge of a large lake reservoir. It had been built as a new town when the reservoir was constructed in the 60s. The original village now deep below the waters of the reservoir. The original Romanesque church of San Nicolas had been dismantled and reassembled up the hill above the reservoir. It was a wonderful setting and the town itself welcoming. It seemed historic even though it was a relatively new construction.

The municipal albergue was basic and comfortable. I checked in before exploring the town. There were rumbles of thunder in the distance. It was not long before a huge storm rolled in over the town. It was a ferocious storm. I had not seen such a huge storm for many years. The rain was torrential and the streets ran like a river. It continued for some time as everyone sheltered in the cafes, restaurants and covered streets. The lights frequently went out in all the establishments in the town. Sometimes many minutes passed before the town’s electricity was restored only to black out again at the sound of another thunder clap. It was exciting and atmospheric! What a storm!

TIP: Its a good idea to bring your own cooking kit and gas stove as many albergues in Galicia do not have facilities. If you are eating the Pilgrim Meal however its not required. Its good however to brew up a cup of tea whenever you want!

The edge of the storm as it approached Portomarin

The edge of the storm as it approached Portomarin

After dinner I had an early night while listening to the thunder crashing outside. The room lit up with lightening. It disturbed even the deepest of snorers. Ever since childhood camping one night in a tent during a storm, there has been something wonderful about tucking up warm in bed as a storm rages outside.

People shelter from the raging storm

People shelter from the raging storm

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