October 24: the penultimate day

Today was fun, as I walked with Elizabeth.  This was another day often through the woods, especially early in the day.   We pass a memorial for Guillermo Watt on the side of the path.  Sadly, he apparently died of natural causes within a day of his destination.  Throughout the journey I’ve passed many memorials, often for people who have died due to accident.  The mountains are steep at times, and bad weather creates hazardous conditions.  But to put this into perspective, there are many many people who walk the Frances Way; I believe the death rate per capita is much less than in my town over the space of each year.

We walk along for a good distance, and have actually bypassed a village or two.  We have a great chuckle when we pass a herd of sheep that decide to talk to us.  They baaa’d, but it sounded like they were saying “hey”.  We answered in kind, and they responded.  Almost weak with laughter, we kept up this crazy call and response until they were too far away.

We came to a tunnel under the highway, and decided to just walk across the road instead.  We were hungry, so we stopped at the restaurant there, especially since the path began another steep ascent.  I really wanted the seafood rice dish, but it was for two people.  Elizabeth was kind, and agreed to share  with me,  even though she wanted pasta, I think  The waitress explained  it would take about 20 minutes, but we were happy for the rest.  We each had a beer, and shared a salad while we waited.

We were sitting outside, and soon the patio began to fill with other peregrinos.  There was a group of 4 cyclists, from Mexico.  One of them was talking about us, when our rice dish was served, and referred to us as “gringas.”  He didn’t realize we could hear him, or so he later said.

Our dish was huge, and could easily have fed 6 to 8 people.  This guy came over and jokingly offered to buy some of  our food for a good price.  We couldn’t eat it all, so we agreed.  I teased him about his name calling us and he blushed and apologized.  To help with the apology, he told the waitress to put our cervesas on his bill.  What a fun lunch that turned out to be.  And the dish was very good, too.

As indicated, there was another ascent immediately thereafter.  At the top, we were at the Santiago airport!  That took awhile to hike around.  We even got to stand in front of the fence, right as a plane streaked close enough to see everyone inside, as it came in for a landing.  We stood and screamed; another fun memory.

Finally our 4 Mexican friends passed  us.  They intended to bike to Santiago this day.  Although they told us they would see us the day after in the plaza, we never saw all 4 of them again.

Our plan was to walk to Villamaior past the town of Lavacolla, so that we would be able to get to Santiago by noon tomorrow,  so we could attend the pilgrim’s mass.  While this ultimately worked out for the best, this is another hamlet with nothing to do.  We stayed in what once was a typical old highway motel, with the rooms in a semicircle around the lawn.  This place had seen much better days, and was among the lower 10 places I stayed along the way.   We had no choice but to eat there.  Fortunately, the food was  decent.

Tomorrow, Santiago.  The destination !

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