Monday 16 July 2012

Day 1 of our Pilgrimage

Up at 6:30 and ready for breakfast by 7:15 and on the road by 8:00.

Today we walk 11km to Morgade. It is important that we get our pilgrim passport stamped at each station failing to go get even one stamp will mean we will not receive our certificate. So this is very important.
Breakfast was buffet style but not north America. There were almost 15 different pastries. Then a table with a variety of cold cuts and cheese. Then there was the fruit table with juice, yogurts, custards, puddings and milk. There was a small little counter that had a limited choice of cereals and cookies. As well there was a coffee table. Our breakfast was including in our room fee. Moving forward we should spend less money because so much was included in our tour fee.
We checked in at the front desk to get our first passport stamp - but that's because we asked. For this being so important one would think stamping stations would be obvious. Haha apparently only "one" thinks this IS important information to advertise. This ONE will learn a lot more over the day.
The first part of our path...50+ stairs up hill. A steep hill to the church that is not open, but we see our first mile mile 111km. We keep going, following the yellow arrows that lead you on your way.
The morning is quite cool and foggy. In fact it's 10c. It may sound chilly but lovely for walking in.
We following the arrows hither and yon up the hill to the monastery, turned left down a 60 degree hill past the cemetery then right on the dirt path where we found a mile marker - 111km. Hmmm another 111km - strange. Thinking that's weird we continue on. Time passes.
We cross some roads (which I keep thinking are alley ways) and seem to be going up and down a lot of hills that are getting more steep. We're back in the woods and fields The country side is gorgeous especially the way the mountains stand majestically within the clouds while the sun shins upon the horizon. Everyone should see this sight once in their life time. As beautiful as it is...the seemingly never ending peaks and valleys are starting to take their toll.
I am not aware of such terrain back home in London. The closest might be old snake hill before it was modified. But Elena says these are very similar to the Clark Street Hill in Woodstock. Finally another mile marker - 110km.
ARE YOU kidding me?! Maybe our idea of a kilometer is different then Spain's.
Getting a little discouraged Elena stop to chat about this. How is it that we've walked so far and got seeming nowhere? We can't find answer that is easy and the truth is we're here to do this so we keep trucking. The only logical answer I came up with (and for those that know me - logical really isn't my strong suit) I decide. The kilometer markers are based on measurements in a straight line (from point
A to point B) and don't take into account we walked extra kms in circles or up and down hills. Not sure Elena buys my idea either....
By mile marker 9 the terrain is less hilly. Don't get me wrong there are more hills but at least the pitch wasn't as steep. The country side really is beautiful. Rolling hills spotted with stone homes, fields of corn, wheat and oats; as well as cows and chickens.
As the mile markers pass (counting down half a km) so do the "towns" we pass through. idea of a 'town' is a little different then that of Spain's. Four stone buildings that look and smell like a barn does not a town make. But I'm only one person; a foreigner in a new country. In truth it is cool to witness a different and less hurried way of life.
Animals running free. Roads that look like country home driveways. People sitting outside visiting and laughing. Some even working fields with "old" equipment. It is a glimpse at a time I never know and some vaguely remember. There were times when we could have reached out and touched a chicken or a cow. But that wasn't something Elena or I really had a desire to do.
At about the half way point we stop at one of the water stations. A water station is a spring fed water source that has been tapped. In Canada I'm sure it would be banded as has been the case in most spring sources but not here. Moss covers the basin where the water flows into then onto another moss cover basin before flowing back to the earth. Not yet to the point where we're ready to try this water, we still carry our bottled water. Those more familiar with the area or perhaps more adventurous do stop and fill their bottles.
Anyway, we enjoy the break feasting on a granola bar and water. Here is when I get my first twinge of discomfort.
I spent 6.00/pr on these no slip anti-blister socks. Our first night here I tried them out while we went into town. Not even two blocks into the walk the one sock slipped into my shoe and half off my foot. Today I used a pair of Elena's socks and I have 4 blisters. There is a saying around here "No pain; No glory.". I've bought into that idea but here I am.
There's no pain but I am mindful of what could follow. Plus now, in what appears to be in the middle of nowhere I have to pee. Bathrooms are not plentiful - actually no amenities are. Every so often you see a vending machine and less often a business. Thankfully, not to far a long we stumble across a cafe. We're hungry or thirsty but we do need a bathroom. ".50" says they lady to me while I'm heading toward the door. Half a euro to pee!!!!! That's like 65 cents at home, but what can you do. I flip the lady an euro and reply "Dos por fa vor" (for those of you that don't speak Spanish it means two if you please). I know she thought I was nuts but have as nuts as I think it is to have thousands of people walking through the country, not providing bathrooms and the only bathroom in 11kms charges half an euro to pee; if you don't place a food order. (hmmm potential business opportunity)
Well now we're down to our last 4kms for the day. Oh and look a hill or should I say a small mountain. What goes up.....must come down and down we went. Finally the last kilometer for the day.
We've now arrived in the town of Morgade. Town....three buildings, a dog, a cat and a watering hole. Anyway it was truly pretty and to see so many other pilgrims - how cool! We called our taxi, to take us back to Sarria for our last night here, got our passports stamped and end our first day.
11.5km in just under 4hrs not to shabby for newbies. 8 more days and 99.5 km to go. Till tomorrow Ciao!!!

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