This is the random stuff that goes through one’s mind when there’s no one around and nothing to do but walk: rain shadows, snail analogies, and human evolution.
I’ve just left my cozy nest at Casa Pepa full of coffee and gratitude. As I walk the wet, single lane roads, I don’t see another pilgrim in either direction. It’s drizzling, but the rain is what makes Galicia so lush and green.
I marvel at a snail making her way too and feel a kinship with her. (Do snails have gender?) Carrying her home on her back like me, going the only pace she can.
My body feels even stronger today. It’s amazing how the human body is built for walking. Our legs swing like pendulums. Within 20 minutes, I feel limber and ready for the hills.
Lost in thought, I become aware of a strange sound. Turning to look over my shoulder, a tanker truck is barreling toward me, sending wet spray in its wake. I jump off the road into the grasses and the force of air blows my hat off as it passes.
Whew!! What the…! My heart thudding from the scare.
It was a milk truck, picking up from a local dairy. Which I only notice when I pass it again, parked safely near a large barn. Good God, I was not expecting that!
Two more vehicles pass to close for comfort. Walking this narrow, paved road creates a strange juxtaposition of bucolic, pastoral scenery and occasional brushes with death. My nervous system is on edge for hours.
This land has been inhabited a long time. I didn’t see a dolmen out there, but a sign tells me there are twelve nearby. A dolmen is a burial chamber made of massive stones that resembles a kind of table. They’re common in many places where the Celts lived, including the Iberian peninsula and western Spain.
As I walk along the slow curve of a road, I notice a bald rock formation jutting above the landscape. Have you ever sensed that a place holds ancient memories? That a place had been lived on by so many for so long that it has an almost palpable energy? That’s how this stretch feels to me. As I stare into the prickly gorse, I wonder who has walked here before and about their story.
In Olveiroa, I’m glad to step off the road at a bar for something to eat. That’s one of the things I love about the Camino. Unlike a wilderness hike, the route is dotted with little (and big) towns where you can stop for a coffee or a meal, and often find other pilgrims.
A couple of English-speaking pilgrims comment on how huge my egg-and-cheese bocadillo is. I laugh and eat the whole thing, washing it down with the ubiquitous freshly squeezed orange juice. Forget Florida Natural. This stuff is so good it will make you cry with happiness from its exquisite deliciousness.
It’s raining again as I leave. My clothes are damp. And this is the real dilemma of rain gear. As you keep out the rain, you also trap all the moisture your body creates with exertion. My poncho is wet both inside and out.
Occasionally, I remove it to shake out the worst, but eventually live with the dampness rather than fight it. It’s still better than being rained on and provides good wind protection.
A scenic park near Olveiroa delights me every time I see it!
Or, if you prefer, a video!
Finally, I’m free from the road and into a real trail. This is a relief because wind in the pines sounds a lot like an oncoming vehicle, and I’m still feeling jumpy from this morning’s encounter.
Up and up on a beautiful trail! Notice the concrete cairn with yellow arrow pointing me to the coast.
It’s hard to describe how much I love this stretch. It’s imbued with memories of laughing with Kate in 2013 and finding bluish-green obsidian rocks in the water running downhill beside the trail. We were both so happy, so present, so delighted with the way.
“Of course you knew the kind of rock this is!” She mocked.
“Well, I’m pretty sure it’s obsidian! And it makes no sense because there’s no volcanoes here!”
“You would know that too!” Grinning under our hats and ponchos.
When I walked this way again in reverse, the trail had been leveled and graded with new gravel, the magical agreen stones covered over. The happiness, though, that remains still.
It’s hard to describe or show how enormous the windmills are. One blade is as long as a three-part tractor trailer. Even at this distance, you can hear the WHHHHUH WHHHHUH WHHHHUH of each blade as it slices through the air.
Kate and I got lost near here and ended up d.i.r.e.c.t.l.y underneath one of these, staring straight up and contemplating our own mortality. I’ve never felt so physically small.
A briar branch pulled at Kate’s pants and she screamed from fear — then laughter. We bent over until our stomachs hurt and tears squeezed out.
“Let’s get out of here!” And we eventually did.
Sometimes memories make the best company.
When I finally get settled at O Logoso, I run into the two girls from Belgium. New memories are great too. Over a meal, I learn about their studies and the social work they’re about to begin. It’s so inspiring to hear about what has meaning for them. I often hear them in fits of laughter too, and delight in glimpsing into their friendship.
G joins my table after the girls leave. He’s from Spain and really kind — a musician and cook who does something cerebral for work. He’s a wonderful conversationalist.
And he asks me, “What do you miss when you’re not home?”
It makes me pause. “Before I came here,” I tell him. “I moved into a new apartment. I’ve been traveling to see family and friends for over a month.”
“Interesting,” he says.
A picture of the snail I met this morning comes to mind.
“You know, it’s strange but I don’t miss anything. You just helped me realize that everything I need is already here,” patting my heart.
Except I don’t have dry footwear after this soggy day. That would be a nice thing to have!