Day 7 July 21 – Valença do Minho to Mos in Spain, 19.65 miles

Today was the hardest day for me. Probably because yesterday I didn’t rest enough. After arriving at the albergue since I haven’t walked enough why not walk more. I needed to buy food and stumbled on a mercadillo and then went to see the old town built on a Fortaleza where they were selling the same stuff than at the mercadillo but much more expensive. It was super busy. After the walk of 4.5 miles my feet were swollen. Not a smart idea. It was nice anyway. I ate far away from the tourist side and ended up at the albergue talking with Petrus, a Peregrino from Cyprus who did El Camino de la Costa and wasn’t very surprised with it.

Another contribution to the hard walk today, besides going to bed late for a peregrina like me, was to wake up at 5 am in order to catch up with the hour I was going to lose 4 k later when crossing the bridge to Spain. Also instead of 23 k that said the app that was the distance between these two towns with all the detours to avoid ugly highways and polígonos industriales I ended up walking 31 k, around 5 miles more
I’m so glad I took a bunch of pictures of the beginning otherwise I would only remember the end. Walking on the empty streets of Valença and Tui was magical. The light and temperature were perfect for walking. It still amazed me that in seconds I changed country, language and time. My favorite photo is the one of the bridge between Valença and Tui. In Tui definitely the Camino becomes more touristic since it’s a little over the minimum distance required to walk and be able to receive a Compostela. I saw a couple of groups walking with nothing as if they were going for a jog and return home. They passed me or I did let them pass. Around 10:30 am I stopped in a cafe for coffee where I ate also one of my yummy sandwiches prepared at the albergue around 6 am. While I was leaving a huge group of 140 Portuguese teenagers arrived at the Cafe and they followed me for a while. They were loud and the route not very fun. Lots of pavement. Fortunately I have read in my guide that you could take a detour to avoid a bunch of polígonos industriales when entering into the town of O Porriños. I walked along the river with no human souls. It was nice and in the shadows. At the end of the river walk, I stumbled with the albergue of this town. It was my salvation since I needed water and bathroom and the person in charge was able to call the next public albergue and check that they had beds. They were “only” 7k that ended up in almost 10 k in the most horrible landscape imaginable. Pavement, busy streets, no cafés or shadows, not even a rock to sit on. My knees were hurting a lot. One kilometer before destiny, I found a bench where I rested while eating a sandwich. A crazy French woman going the opposite way talked to me for a while and complained about all the people that snores in albergues. It was pretty funny the way she expressed herself. «if you snore, book a private room or get an operation » saying these while her hands were flying in the sky.

After that I finally arrived to the albergue of Mos. I found the 4 Czech women and the muse that I saw in the river. I found out everything about her routine. Very neat person.

I did the usual, showered, washed clothes, find WiFi and a menú peregrino to eat. The restaurant in front of the albergue had fish, rabbit and chocolate mousse with a natural orange juice for 10€. I ate everything to the last morsel even when I was not hungry. I know I need to eat. Tomorrow is a long way to Pontevedra. I hope I am in shape for the challenge. Good night. It’s 9:15 pm and I am done.

Day 6 – July 20th – Labruja to Valença do Minho

Woke up at 5 am. Did some yoga and started to get ready slowly. At 6:30 am my breakfast (coffee, bread, cheese and dulce de membrillo) was waiting for me. I didn’t see a soul. Very peaceful stay, helped me to catching up with this blog, since Casa da Valada doesn’t have WiFi. Yesterday a woman in her forties opened me the door of this stone house with a beautiful view. Her name is Concepción but people call her Sion but pronounced in Portuguese.

The second floor of the house is set up for Peregrinos but this year has been really slow and I’m the only one that stayed last night.

Concepción seems to be taking care of her mother. I saw a wheelchair next to the car and a vacuum cleaner and yesterday, when I was eating my veggie soup (3€) I heard a scream from inside the house and a tired Sion who was hand washing towels and sheets hollering back with not too much patience. I went to my bedroom around 8 pm without saying thank you or good night since she was busy with two handymen who were fixing the front door. Lots of discussions going on, I left unnoticed.

Now is almost 7 am and the sun is rising over the hills above the church.

I took some photos while the sun was rising. Mornings are my favorite part of the day. I love to watch the world around me to wake up. Today I walked 17.40 miles. I was glad I stopped in Labruja since not too far it was a big climb. I was grateful once again for the compfy boots that my son had gifted me with. It was a rocky climb. I met a true peregrino there that caught me by surprise since disrupted my solitude. He was walking from Lagos in Portugal’s Algarve, passed through Fátima. He wanted to get to Santiago and then Lourdes. He had lost his job, didn’t have money or eaten in three days. He was definitely looking for a miracle. I wanted to help him but I was scared of getting money for him right there in the loneliness of the Camino. I felt bad since I felt scared of a poor man. Misery doesn’t have mercy, and we behave worst in front of it.

The man walked really fast and I lost sight of him. I decided to take a 50 Euros bill and put it in one of my side pockets, ready to be grabbed and handed if I saw the man again. The problem was that I never saw him again. When I told my husband the story I started to cry, I don’t know if for the man’s misery or my own.