Yesterday signified one month on the Camino, and although I pictured a quiet day to reflect over the last 31 days, the trail ended up connecting me with two fantastic people right from the beginning. I was busy writing on my iPhone in the bar during my morning coffee in Baamonde when a Spanish guy Alberto and his aunt Blanca came and chatted to me before hitting the trail. I was in a bit of a somber mood and when I saw them ahead of me an hour later I figure we’d exchange pleasantries and I’d continue. Because a car passed us from behind they looked around, spotted me and waited for me to catch up. Because they’d stopped I figured it would be rude to bypass them so quickly, so I joined their pace and we chatted for over 10km until we reached a rustic cafe near Seixon. I was aiming to complete just over 40km and I’d already set off late, but the company was too good to pass up, so we enjoyed a coffee and beer under a blossoming pear tree at the cute cafe just 150m off the Way.
Again I thought we would part ways, but the two of them enjoyed the pace and rhythm I set, so we carried onto Miraz, and before we knew it we’d already walked 15km with little effort. The trail was absolutely stunning which helped, but the energy from these two new pilgrims was driving me while I set the gear to autopilot.
After another beer, bread, cheese and chorizo, Blanca decided she would take a taxi to Sobrado dos Monxes as it was still at least another 25km and it was nearing 3pm. She offered to take our packs, but I shook my head and explained the term ‘slack packing’ and they understood. The next part of the trail suddenly entered a completely new environment of huge stones and magnificent yellow flowers, literally transporting us in seconds into a zone that reminded me a little of Yosemite minus the swarms of mosquitos. Alberto had lived in Melbourne and lives a very similar nomadic lifestyle to myself, allowing us to share stories and philosophies for hours as the kilometres ticked by. I was able to talk about the significance of yesterday and my memories of the PCT which felt like a huge mental release, because other than Carlos, Ali and Agnes, I haven’t had anyone to communicate my thoughts and feelings to face to face, which I realise made things a lot more difficult for me.
We were moving at such a steady pace that we stopped again at the next bar 10km ahead to enjoy the afternoon sun on the roadside and another cerveza. I think the old woman who ran the bar enjoyed watching two strange pilgrims chatting away in English outside her otherwise empty establishment. We figured we had another 3 hours to walk and probably just enough sun to make it. 9km out we passed an incredible open green pasture where the sun was still streaming over the tops of the gum trees. We looked at one another with the same idea; ‘a quick siesta?’ I didn’t expect to sleep, but when I woke up the weather seemed to be changing signalling the time to move on. I was sure at this point darkness was on its way, however every time I thought the sun had disappeared, it would reappear again over the next hill. This happened so many times it became the never ending sunset, and it wasn’t until we reached a beautiful lake just on the outskirts of Sobrado that the sun finally bid us farewell.
The final gift of the day was a mystical view of the monastery as we neared the centre of town. This is where I spent the night after a warm shower at 11pm, following one of the most magical days to celebrate my one month on the El Camino del Norte.