m. cumulative ascension
We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world.
It is the last day of the Asturian way. From today, everything will be flatter, less mountainous. Perhaps, who knows, more boring. Or maybe not. Having breakfast at the bar of Grandas, some pilgrims, the most unpunctual, stayed to look at the weather forecast they are giving on TV. Rains are expected in the coming days.
The mini-summer of Saint Michael has lasted a few days; the mornings are cold and humid. Foot pain, the first hour of the day, is unbearable. I am one of the last to leave the bar, at half past eight in the morning.
A photo day
The days, in Asturias, begin dark. If we are guided by the sun (it does not make much sense not to do so), between Asturias and Catalonia there is almost an hour less. And it shows. It contrasts the light of the photos sent to me by WhatsApp first thing in the morning by my father, with the darkness that surrounds me while I look at them. Days ago we started walking in fog. Fortunately. The spectacle of watching the sun rise over the foggy Asturian valleys is magnificent.
Agata has started walking later than me, and has caught me while I was entertained taking pictures. Today she has decided to walk alone; he started the Camino as an introspective journey, but she has always been meeting people along the way. I guess if you’re blonde, tall, and have blue eyes, it’s hard to travel alone. Even doing the Camino de Santiago. We have said goodbye and I have continued taking pictures, today was difficult to warm my feet.
And the truth is, it has cost a lot. I do not consider resting, much less abandoning, but as the thing continues like this, I think I will beat the record of slowness doing the Camino. Today, any excuse has been good to stop. Some catering machines in a cabin, outside a village, have been a good excuse to make a coffee and eat a KitKat. It was fine, planted and quiet there…
Doing this pseudo-rest I have been overtaken by two girls who I had advanced some minutes before. We had half crossed yesterday, going down the dam; they would walk into a building when I was passing by. They were easy to remember because they both wore a good bun over their heads. On a little-crowded route like the Camino Primitivo, and after six days, it was difficult to meet unknown people.
I’ve stopped again later. Walking without breakfast was not a brilliant idea, so when I’ve found a luxury self-catering, I stopped. You read it right: luxury. The machines, apart from the usual Kitkats and Lions, had sandwiches, frozen macaroni, hot chocolate… a feast of calories! There was also a couple of microwaves, so I could heat the macaroni. All this, in a kind of wooden bungalow, with tables and chairs to sit on. A charm, in the middle of a nothing, broken only by the semi-abandoned cattle farms. It was precisely what I needed.
So, I’ve engaged, like a gentleman. I’ve had a salmon sandwich. I intended to take the one next door, which was sweet ham and cheese, but at some point I confused some number, and I ended up buying what I did not want. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me, nor will it be the last. The older I get, the worse I relate to machines. I will finish Luddite. Luckily, it has not been catastrophic: I like salmon. Of the 4 or 5 varieties of snacks there were, I only liked these two. Well, so I have sat down, with a salmon sandwich that had fallen accidentally, and a coca-cola that, I hoped, would resurrect me. And chocolate, of course.
Entering in Galicia
And yes, the meal have resurrected me and allowed me to continue walking with some normality. Without realizing it, and that the high is considerable, I have arrived in Galicia, and the first thing I have thought of has been with the recommendation of Cris of Bodenaya about stopping in Fonsagrada and eating octopus; he didn’t have the fame of Melide‘s, but he was just as good.
The second thing was that, to take the picture, I did not have to take off my gloves, since I had them hanging from the strap that ties the backpack to my belly. And I realized that, of the two gloves I had hung up, there was only one there. The grief I’ve felt for losing a glove… I was very fond of those gloves, too. I had taken them doing the West Highland Way, and being red as they were, they were going to match with my pants and boots. And the jacket. And the polar. I like red.
With an only one goal between the eyes, which started with octo, and ended with pus, I went down to Fonsagrada. Just at the beginning of the rise that there is before entering the town, I have caught, again, Agata. And he told me that he had something for me that I would very much like: my glove! He also told me that in Fonsagrada Leoni, the one from Mallorca and the one from Valencia, were waiting for us to go to lunch.
Polbo a feira and Padrón
With my stomach full of polbo a feira, we went to a vintage pharmacy because I need gauzes, and to buy ingredients for the dinner that I had to cook, and we have continued, Leoni, Agata, and me, to O Padrón. The others stayed in Fonsagrada.
Getting to Padrón has been a moment, and after the hospitalier explained to me how he rescued, years ago, when the Primitivo was an almost abandoned route, a Canadian lost because of a snowstorm, has given us to do idiot photo shoots. How good one feels after a good time of laughter, even if they are meaningless!
Routine, however, rules. And it was time to heal my feet and leave them in the sun for a little while. While I was in this contemplative state, I met a group of pilgrims with whom we had shared a restaurant in Fonsagrada and now a hostel in Padrón: they were three Asturian women and the husband of one of them. They were surprised that I could walk with my destroyed feet, and he had done the Primitive Way eleven times, and nine other Caminos. He was a miner, and the early retirements of the nineties caught him young and wanting to walk. They were waiting for a taxi to go to dinner in Padrón, which has not been long in arriving. They’re gone, and also the sun.
Going back inside the hostel, with the clothes semi-clean and semi-dry, I saw one of the two girls with the bun on her head. It was Carme, a 26-year-old mallorcan, and a pharmacist. His favorite color is green. He has blue eyes, and gives off sweetness and sympathy.
It had been many days since I spoke in Catalan for so long. The other girl with the bun, Neus, is her younger sister. She has stayed in Fonsagrada, and tomorrow she returns to Barcelona because she has to begin the university. I invited her to the mini-community dinner (there were four), but she declined the offer.
Macaroni with bacon and cream of milk (a la carbonara, as we call it here) never fail. If you want to get in good, it’s the ace in the winning sleeve. Personally, I have never been failed, since the first time, in a Scottish hostel, we were like a Ferran Adrià backpacker. Despite not having pepper or nutmeg, they have been superb. The Asturian troupe has been excited by the smell of food, and Carme has finally joined us for dinner.
After a broken plate and a few tips from someone who knows the Primitivo perfectly, I pulled myself towards the bed humming Antònia Font (a mallorcan rock band). Guilt of Carme, of his horabaixes (a word that in the Catalan of Mallorca means the last hour of the afternoon) and of his joy.