Laza to Xunqueira de Ambia (22 miles / 35.42 k)
I started my day early knowing it would be a long day and that there were some steep sections. I started a little before eight and walked with my headlight on for the first hour. The further north I am getting the later it stays dark.
It had rained last night and the forecast was for some rain by nine. I started out with my rain gear on and within the first half hour took my jacket off because I was hot from the climb, which started almost immediately at the edge of town.
The Camino started in town on the road for well over a mile and then moved off and back on to the road several times. I had decided to stay on the road as the distance was about the same, and the Camino and road ran fairly parallel to each other.
The climb was around five miles and it was tough. There were many sharp steeply slanted curves that made the climb in the curves harder. It got very foggy and visibility was down to about twenty or thirty feet. I could not see the curves ahead until I was almost on them, so I made sure to carefully listen for cars. I switched back and forth on the road when I had a blind curve. Fortunately there was very little traffic.
My goal is usually not to stop on a steep climb, but I did stop several times. I would have to say this was one of the hardest climbs for me on the Plata. I kept hoping I had reached the top. I did finally reach the top at the little village of Alberqueria. Michael and Mikio came onto the road just as I got there. It was actually where the Camino merged back onto the road. The first thing Michael said was, “that was a very tough climb.” And I agreed.
Once past Alberqueria the Camino continued to climb a little more, but not as steep. Then it started steeply downhill for several miles. I could feel it in my knee and I was going downhill at half the speed as going uphill. Fortunately it wasn’t as steep as yesterday’s long decent.
The bottom of the decent was the town of Vilar de Barrios. It is also the stopping point for this stage of the Camino. It was only 1:00 PM, and the next town of Xunqueira was only another nine miles away. I had already gone thirteen miles, so it would be a total of twenty-two today if I continued. Tomorrows stage is from Xunqueira to Ourense, and is about 22 miles. I would either have a long day today, or tomorrow. Because I had recovered after the climb, and felt I had a lot of energy, I decided to continue.
The road I took to Xunqueira was almost all level and went through open fields and farm land. I only saw a handful of cars and the walk was very pleasant and helped make up for the morning.
I love walking through different areas and looking at some of the beautiful houses in the country. As I mentioned, I can hardly walk by a house without thinking how the people got there and why are they out here? Then I think about what kind of life they must have? I have that weird kind of mind anyway, but being with your own thoughts all day on the Camino makes it worse. Or better!
I was excited when I got to Xunqueira at 4:45 PM. I knew there was a municiple alberque in town and had decided to stay at a casa rural again. There were two noted in my Camino app and I went to the closet one first. Nice, but with a funeral parlor attached next door. Not really what I want.
I used the live program for directions to the next casa rural but it brought me to a vacant lot. I had used up the phone minutes and wasn’t able to call. I walked back to the city center and must of had a puzzled look on my face because two men asked if they could help. They ended up calling the owner and she came down to meet me. Apparently the program’s map information was incorrect.
The place was very beautiful and was like a big house but I didn’t want to pay the extra and not have wifi. I ended up going to the municipal alberque and it turned out to be a very nice, clean, and newer one.
There are two rooms with eight beds. The two men that helped call for me were actually there, as they are pilgrims too. No wonder they were so helpful. Michael ended up here too. I am in a room with one other person. Not a bad place for 6€ ($6.72).
While walking around town looking for a place to stay I found the mercado and bought food for tomorrow. I also bought some veggies and a few other things to eat here tonight, as I don’t want to walk another half mile to diner tonight.
The guide book notes that it is only 83 miles to Santiago! Wow! That’s about five days, or a Monday arrival! I haven’t really paid attention to how many miles I have gone or how many were left until the last few days. I have just been taking them one day at a time, but now I feel like the stable horse that knows it’s near the barn and is anxious to get there.
Tomorrow will be a short day to Ourense, which is a fairly good size town. Hopefully I’ll be there early enough to enjoy some free time.