Day #32: Fonfría to Samos, 20.3km

05.18.2010

Another day of sun on the Camino!  It was also another day I wanted to throw the guidebook out the window--or perhaps into a stream or into the road.

The walk to Triacastela was pretty uneventful.  It was steep in some places but really beautiful.  Galicia, the region I am in now, reminds me quite a lot of Oregon.  Lots of farms, very green and hilly.

I stopped in Triacastela for cafe con leche and a snack.  On leaving town, I made sure I took the correct route because there were two options and I didn't want to mess it up.  My end goal was Samos, a small town with a Benedictine monastery, one of the largest and oldest in Spain.  The monastery has been providing hospitality to peregrinos for almost as long as the Camino has been around.

From Triacastela to San Cristobo, the path followed the main highway.  There was a path in some parts, other places, you were walking on the shoulder and hoping (and praying) you wouldn't get hit by the semis going too fast on the corners.  Good times.

San Cristobo is a cute little village with very little going on.  I stopped at the bridge to admire it and take a little rest in the shade.  I met an Austrian guy sitting there, so we talked for a bit.  Then a farmer started herding a few of his cows towards the river for their mid-day drink.  They meandered into the river and drank the water to their hearts content.  It was so much fun to watch.  They didn't have a care in the world and paid no attention to any of us.

I was hoping to take another break in Renche, about 2.5km more, so I continued along the Camino.  There wasn't much at the bar in Renche, so I had an orange juice and sat for a bit to rest my feet.  I had 3.5km to Samos and figured it wouldn't take me too long because according to the guidebook, it was mostly level with a small descent into Samos.  Yeah, right.  I spent the next 3.5km going up hills and down hills and going through towns that were not even on the map or in any of the descriptions for the day.  It was very frustrating, even though there were waymarks.

On the final descent into Samos, I met a guy from NYC and we chatted the rest of the way, which made the last kilometer or so go much faster.  We found the monastery and the Albergue (and three other Albergues that were NOT in the book) and got in line to wait to be checked in.  We arrived shortly before 3p and the doors did not open until 3p, which was good.

This was a bare bones kind of Albergue.  It was similar in many ways to the one in Roncesvalles, though this one has no kitchen or any kind of area to hang out.  I was able to get a bottom bunk, which I cherish with my foot problems.  The showers were cold but it was so warm outside, it didn't matter and even felt kind of good.

After my shower, I set out to find the biblioteca to see about internet since I had been offline for a day or two.  Mom worries, you know.... I got there when they opened and quickly did an email update to the family and on Facebook.  I also went to an ATM because I was down to my last 20€.  I don't like being that low on money while on the Camino because you never know what services are available in each town you are in.

I went back to the Albergue and took a nap.  When I woke up, everyone was heading to the monastery for a tour, so I joined them.  It was 3€ and in Spanish, but I still enjoyed seeing inside the monastery.  They also have a very nice gift shop.  I hadn't eaten much during the day, so I skipped Vespers/Mass (I was so bummed about that) and went across the street to have dinner.  There was a group of Brazilian men I had met earlier in the day, and they motioned for me to join them, so I did.  We ended up inviting a German woman, Andrea, to join us too.

I ordered a salad and the pulpo (octopus), a local Galician specialty.  The pulpo was delicious.  I shared it with everyone because it was a huge portion.

Andrea had a fascinating story from her Camino.  She had been walking to Rabanal del Camino, but all the Albergues were full, so she kept walking to Foncebadón, but they were full, so she decided to try to hitch hike over the hill.  Most Spaniards don't pick up peregrinos hitching rides and there was a van that passed her and the driver slowly shook his head, "No".  But then it slowed down and picked her up and it turns out it was a news crew from Italy!  They drove her over La Cruz del Ferro and onto the next Albergue in Monjarin--FULL.  Acebo--FULL.  Riego de Ambros--FULL.  Molinaseca--FULL.  Finally, in Ponferrada there was space at the Albergue!  She would have had to walk almost 30km more at 5p at night if they had not picked her up!  They also interviewed her, so maybe she's on Italian television somewhere.  The best part of the story is I had already heard it second-hand from another peregrino.  It was good to actually hear the story from Andrea herself.

Dinner was a lot of fun and I went to bed feeling great.