Friday, May 6, 2011

Camino de Santiago - Day 2

Mercadoiro to Eirexe

Today's hike was kind of brutal. Day 2 of any backpacking trip is usually the hardest, so I just kind of rolled with it. We all didn't sleep well last night, we were sore from the first day and then made the mistake of just starting hiking and figuring we would find someplace along the way for breakfast. Well, we did but it was about 5 km (up and down a hill) before we did. Including over a super high bridge and up some very steep (no handrail) stairs in to the town of Palas del Rei. The town was gorgeous but we had to keep moving to cover the mileage for the day so we had a quick breakfast at a lovely little cafe bar and moved on.

While at breakfast we noticed a tour group of older folks who were doing one section of the Camino. This is common for folks who can't do the whole thing - it lets them do a little part of it and just get a taste. They hiked out of town ahead of us and apparently somewhere along the way, tragedy struck and one of them died suddenly. Yes, you read that right - died. After breakfast about 1/2 hour up the trail we noticed some of the group standing around in the trail, then I noticed the blue tarp and the boots sticking out of it. And the police. The group spoke German so we couldn't really ask anyone what happened so we hiked on.

After we pulled through town, there was another stretch of farm land which is just beautiful here. Small farms, stone fences, lush fields and happy animals. It was not uncommon to see 4 or 5 fat and contented cows grazing in a huge field of lush grass. You can really tell that the land here has been touched by human hands for hundreds of years. Outside of the towns, it looks like it could be the 17th century.

Along the way we met another American couple and a few other groups of folks. It's hard to tell what languages everyone speaks so you kind of just start with an "hola" or "buen camino" and go from there. Tonight we stayed in a municipal albergie (5 euros) run by a very sweet woman in a tiny farming "town". I say town like that because really it was a clump of about 6 buildings owned by her and her family. As I arrived (a bit behind because I took a moment to call home) it started to thunder and rain. Her husband was across the street at their farm with an umbrella and a stick trying to get their 3 cows into the barn. With the thunder and rain those cows wanted to go anywhere BUT into the barn. Soon he called her over and it was just a riot watching the two of them with their umbrellas trying to corral the cows. Eventually they did go in and it stopped raining. We had dinner, chatted with some people we met and then all slept well.

No food, dead bodies, a long climb next to a highway and sore muscles  - Day 2, it's all uphill (figuratively!) from here.

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