Fog City Boy on the Camino Primitivo
Lugo, Galicia, Spain – September 18, 2016
As promised, I am continuing to compose and publish blog entries. Thank you for your patience!
I departed Oviedo timely, though a bit later that morning than I intended. The late departure allowed me to have a good (hot) breakfast which is always a good thing. A continental breakfast (bread, butter, cheese, and jam) isn’t enough to sustain a peregrino for long, as I have previously commented.
The Original Way from Oviedo begins, appropriately, at the cathedral. There isn’t much to go on in terms of waymarks. All yellow arrows, if there ever were any, have been exised – perhaps in the name of quiet enjoyment of the cathedral plaza and adjacent streets. Camino supporters with yellow spraycans occasionally become overly enthusiastic. I wandered for a while because not only were there no waymarks, the streets were not identified. Eventually my guidebook as augmented by Maps App got me on the right track. Brass conchas lead the way.
It was a Sunday morning and Oviedo hadn’t awakened yet. I had the streets mostly to myself. As I approached the residential neighborhoods through which the Original Way passes, I felt good to be on my way. The Way passes by a park dedicated to the Camino and to the pilgrims who persue it.
And, predictably, a peregrino with a sense of humor left his mark:
The Way meanders into semi-rural countryside and eventually comes upon the Capilla del Carmen, a small chapel welcoming peregrinos with a place to rest and a sello for the pilgrim’s credencial. Inside a priest was saying mass.
Pressing on, the Way continues through lovely countryside and small villages.
At the top of a steep climb, I doffed my mochilla, and luxuriated in the confort of a bus shelter. A few minutes later a young German peregrina arrived and she, too, took the opportunity to luxuriate in the recovery provided by the bus shelter.
Bus shelters on the Camino are almost as important as yellow arrows!
We chatted a bit and I learned that she was a social worker in Germany on holiday from her duties overseeing and counseling unaccompanied immigrants ages 14-18. She spoke passionately of the hardships they have endured whense they came, and the challenges they face in their new country. I concluded that she alternatively served as “mommy, auntie, sister, and teacher.” She added one more role, “policeman.” Sometimes she must enforce the rules, it seems.
We walked on and discovered a bar/restaurant that provided not only shade from the sun, but also refreshments. We took a table and shortly thereafter were joined by three more German pilgrims. Although my German is passable for simple communication, predictably, everyone else´s English was better than my German. So we spoke English. Nice folks.
I pressed ahead, crossing a Romanesque bridge en route, and eventually reached Grado about 1800 that evening. I had a reservation for a private room at the Hotel Autobar, a hostlery that is popular with peregrinos. When I arrived I was greeted warmly and sent to a room with two bunkbeds. Shades of an alberque! I took a shower and went down to the bar/comedor and asked for the pilgrim menú, a simple three course dinner generally availabale to pilgrims on the Camino. It comes with water or wine and bread. The cost, generally no more than €10.
And then, the Germans arrived! The house was almost full, but accommodations were made, and I ended up with two of the Germans as bunkmates. The nice young social worker and one of the guys. Shades of an alberque!
The social worker teasingly pointed out that my blog was about a “Monkey Camino” because I had consistently misspelled “Primitivo.” I had spelled it, “Primativo.” Yikes! And a shout out to my social worker friend. I think I have made the necessary corrections!
The Germans were up early the next morning and out the door while I was still nursing a café con leche. I have not seen them since. The day from Grado to Cornellana was not a long day, but it was hot and there were mountains to climb. I arrived dripping with perspiration and feeling grimy. I was somewhat surprised that the hotel keeper actually rented me a room in her very nice Hotel **. Her comment to me upon arrival: “Mucho calor.” No kidding.
The town hosts a partially ruined monistary which I passed on The Way next morning.
The day was another hot day and it was enervating. There were things along the way to see. Fontes and ancient structures.
But my most pressing need was for a place to recover, cool off, and contemplate. The guidebook identifed a bar/alberque just ahead. But when I got there, my worst fears were confirmed.
It was a Monday, and apparently the entrepreneur/hospitalero had taken the day off.
What to do? Simple, sit on a ledge of the church across the road, break out a can of sardines and some bread I had saved from breakfast, and settle in to a mid-afternoon feast! Not perfect, but enough of a recovery to facilitate the last push that would take me to Salas, a good sized town with all facilities with a gentle river running through town.
There was only so much forward movement of which I was willingly capable. I called a halt at Salas, only 12 km from Grado. I made my way to Hotel Soto * hopeful of a place to stay. I was fortunate. A kindly hotel keeper showed me a very clean and satisfactory room and I happily moved in. She also showed me, and an Irish peregrino also staying there, a patio with a clothes line and plenty of clothes pins. Apparently she had met peregrinos before and knew we would be doing our laundry, with or without benefit of a place to dry our clothes.
The town is the home of a handsome 16th century church and adjacent tower fortification. Both were worth a look. The tower is open to the public for a nominal fee.
The next day took me to Tineo. The weather was moderating. The countryside continued to be lovely. But I had fallen behind in my intended itinerary. It became apparent to the Fog City Boy that he wasn’t going to be able to make it to Santiago in time to get the flight from Paris to SFO. I had contemplated not buying a return ticket before leaving San Francisco. But I didn’t follow my own advice.
So, what to do?
I contemplated this challenge as I proceeded from Salas to Tineo.
Reality had collided with enthusiasm. I decided to adjust my expectations and shoot for Lugo (where I am composing this post) as an achievable destination for this part of my peregrenacion. I decided to walk the Camino Primitivo in two segments. I’m on a train tomorrow morning to Madrid, and from there to Paris CDG. I’ll return next year and complete the Camino Primitivo. I will finish what I started.
I’ll coninue blog entries in a few days.
With that, I´m off!
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