Well, today the Camino Via de la Plata began – the purpose of this whole trip to Spain thing. Well really it is to walk into Santiago De Compestela on the BIG birthday. And to do that I have to start somewhere. Val walked the whole route from Seville 2 years ago ( a whole 1000km!!) but as I keep using my holidays to for Nepal and NZ, I didn’t have time to walk that distance (why would you anyway?). So since she has done it before she has been officially appointed the Tour Guide and is therefore responsible for leading the way. She chose as the starting point the town Verin, the uninspiring one from yesterday.
Confession time. I was somewhat apprehensive about starting today as I wasn’t sure if the route we were going to take. Val thought she knew where we were going as she had carefully marked it out on a map app. But I had doubts. The way I thought was out was in the opposite direction to what she had planned. One of us was right and the other, well not wrong, just not right. Yeah right -wrong. I was a bit bit anxious that we would end up going the wrong way and having to turn around and walk back only have to start again. There might be some of you who could say this would be character building but if that happened I would probably say the same thing I did when on the back roads of Loch Ness going up a hill into a strong head wind, and threw my bike down in a hissy fit. I can assure you it wasn’t very polite and I wouldn’t repeat it again. Sorry back on track (no pun intended, well, maybe). You might wonder why I would doubt Val and her directions. If you knew from the last Via De La Plata that she walked more km than necessary due to getting lost and walking the wrong way….. Ah, I am being unfair as it was not marked as well as it is up here and thank heavens for Gaia GPS app which she didn’t have last time.
There was no need for me to be anxious. The way was quite easy and Gaia GPS was very good. The best part of the 20km walk to Laza was the first part along the river that runs through Verin. It is beautifully clear, tree and fern lined and the chirping birds compete with the gentle sounds of a slow moving river. There was a small stone wall in the river creating a smal waterfall. The edges of the track were covered in soft capok. Just lovely. Some locals walk along the path for their morning walk.
The walking itself was really quite easy. Well it would have been easier if someone hadn’t put a lead lining in the pack and filled it with invisible bricks. I’m sure it wasn’t anywhere near as heavy when I was trudging around the hills. We followed the river up the valley but unfortunately had to walk on some roads rather than being able to stay on the river side. Still for the most parts they were quiet little back roads. The fields and sides of the roads have all sorts of wild flowers growing. They are wild but so familiar to us – verbena, viscera, Salvation Jane, butter cups, Queen Anne lace and one of my favourites, daisies.
Quite surprisingly we came across a little church tucked just off the road. This one was cute but had I been able to go inside it might have changed it status to creepy.
Just around the corner, God was putting temptation before me. On another day I might have been tempted but no, not on the first day. besides it wouldn’t have been very Buddhist of me as the old couple working in their fields would probably need it to get back their house hidden from view for lunchtime siesta.
So after four and 1/2 hours of walking and 20km, Val and I arrived at the tiny quaint little town of Laza. An old fellow in a cap, blue singlet and shorts (not stubbies) greeted us at the roundabout and directed us to the check in at the police station so we could get a key for the albergue. Hmmm, handsome man. And so I am to spend my first night in a pilgrim’s hostel aka albergue five rooms, 4 double bunks each. Oh joy!
Lunch is an interesting affair. Each bar has a menu of the day which cost us 9 euro for a three course meal. Where we ate the locals also come for lunch making it a noisy affair. We also had the ever-present TV in the background. Very quaint.
After lunch (after 3.30pm) we walked around the Farmacia as I am suffering from hayfever. Once again we noticed a vending machine you don’t often see on outside walls at home. The Spanish are obviously randy buggers. They can’t be for the peregrinos (boys) or perigrenas (girls) as who would have the energy for such pursuits after walking all day. Yes, in case you can’t quite make it out, it is a condom vending machine and we saw a number of them in Verin.
As we walked to the Farmacia, we passed the way we walked into town and saw a fellow peregrino walking into town. The give away was his the two walking poles. He recognised us as fellow pilgrims and naturally wanted to know the way to the albergue. I shall call him Herr Clack Clack for that is the sound of his poles banging down on the surface of the roads and cobbles. Not a quite clack but CLACK CLACK as the metal tips hit the road. Surely rubber tips would be better. Herr Clack Clack was a chatty fellow and I learnt more about him in the 5 minutes we shared than I need to know. We were worried he would be sharing our bunk room. Thank Gott im Himmel he is in another room. I hope we leave before him tomorrow so we don’t have to put up with his chatter and his clacker.
I now have antihistamines without pseudofed. If I had ones with that in it I would be wanting to walk the whole trail without an sit and sleep just wouldn’t be necessary. I could never be a speed junkie! It takes all of 15 minutes to ‘do the town’. It really is cute with its old farm houses mixed in amongst less bucolic buildings. The heart of the town is Bar Apicato where we had lunch and the locals like to sit in the terrace and gossip. Australian peregrinas also like to sit there, drink Coke Cola light and watch the locals.
Time for a shower in an open bathroom where the showers have no curtains and off for an early night. Pity anyone who has the misfortune to walk in when I am in the shower. Whether I sleep or not will be a different story as when I last looked there were 6 people in the room.
So the journey has begun and tomorrow is another day. Apparently we will be scrambling up some rocky slopes and walking about 23km. Character building?