13 May 2017
The next day’s stage was much less ridiculous. My boots were still wet – of course – when I put them on, and my blisters were still present. All the Compeed was the wrong size, so I’d had to fasten it down with standard Elastoplast over the top. But the profile of the day’s route was considerably flatter.
The weather started out rather lovely, a moody sunrise, though with something of a headwind even then. The first hour’s walk took us through a village with an impressive array of sculptures. One was a huge stone Santiago – it wasn’t the four metres that the guidebook claimed, but it was still pretty imposing. Others were huge dinosaurs, or made from reclaimed farm equipment, and were just plain bizarre. We couldn’t linger and take many photographs, however, because our presence seemed to be upsetting the village dogs. Or so we thought at first. After a little while we decided that perhaps they were more interested in barking at each other than at us.
There was off-again on-again mizzly rain through the first few kilometres, then a proper downpour after we’d stopped in A Rúa for our first cup of coffee. We promptly ordered a second…
After that it drizzled a bit harder, and I put my waterproof on, and got Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes stuck in my head. I observed that this wasn’t necessarily a desirable state of affairs, because surely the diamonds would wear through the soles and start digging into the feet? These and other pointless conversations got us to the bar O Cruceiro (the book said that Carolina, the owner, speaks English; she does, and with an English accent) and had the first and last boccadillos of this Camino.
We were perhaps five hundred metres down the road when the rain really started coming down. I attempted to explain to John why it is funny that Stephen Fry elected to name one of the characters in his The Stars’ Tennis Balls ‘Portia’… Because the equivalent character in the original is called Mercédès, that’s why… Maybe you had to be there.
It rained steadily and hard for about an hour and a half, or however long it took us to go five kilometres. Maybe it wasn’t as long as an hour and a half. Anyway, my boots soaked through to my socks and my waterproof soaked through to my T-shirt, and I was going to have to wear at least some of it again the next day.
The rain let up at long last, but the wind kept on going. We slogged down a very broad, straight, forest track that felt like it went on forever. That’s the thing with a straight road: unless you’re travelling very fast, it seems as if you’re not making any progress at all. On a twisty turny one you do at least get frequent changes of scenery.
This scenery changed after about four kilometres, and we sat down in yet another handy bus shelter and watched the wind ruffling the crops in the field opposite. Having recovered our spirits, we plodded on into Sigüeiro, around the edge of an industrial estate and then through a pleasant park.
On the way out of the park we passed several fairground stands and marquees. One seemed to be a beer tent; our Spanish pilgrim friends waved as we passed by. There was obviously some sort of local festival or fête going on, which we weren’t quite in the mood to appreciate. We booked in at the first albergue instead. And when I say ‘booked in’ I mean ‘walked in and had a bit of a sit down until someone turned up’. We didn’t mind. It was a very nice albergue.
The sun and wind coming into Sigüeiro had gone some way to dry everything off again, but I still felt pretty clammy and horrible, and once I’d had a shower and John had worked out the tumble dryer I retired to my bunk dressed in pants, trousers, sports bra and fleece and read Four Quartets until I’d warmed up a bit.
We went out into Sigüeiro to have a look at the fair and get some food. The fair was mostly shutting up for the evening, so, after wandering up and down the row of stands, we moved on to the ‘food’ part. For reasons that I now can’t remember, we settled on a pizza place.
It was at this point that my Spanish failed. I’d been doing most of the talking all the way along, and my skills had improved along with my confidence. But at this point I was tired and hungry and I absolutely could not remember the Spanish for ‘four’ – which made ordering a four cheese pizza a little difficult. So John did it, and it was fine, and there was pizza.
Then we decided that, since we were in a town, we might as well go out for a drink. We fixed on an establishment named ‘Folk Cervexeria’, which was not at all folky; it had Beatles and Queen memorabilia all over the place. It also had a slightly odd atmosphere. We stayed for one drink and then retired to the albergue.
Next time: Santiago!