Friday, November 13, 2009
Arca to Monte del Gozo
I slept until about 8 AM, and took my time getting out of bed, since it was still dark, and I could hear the rain outside. I was not too eager getting my wet boots and rain gear on again, but by 9:30 AM I was on my way, wondering if I should push through and go the last 19 km+ in to Santiago, or stick with my original plan of stopping short of Santiago, and do the last little stretch so I could arrive in Santiago in time to attend the 12 Noon Pilgrim's Mass upon arrival.
I walked along the pathways lined with eucalyptus trees in the quiet rain, meeting only a few people, and none I knew. Finally a bar appeared, and I went in to get my first café con leche and a bocadillo with eggs and bacon along with a glass of fresh-pressed orange juice. I was hungry, because I had had nothing to eat yet. Then I walked on, my right foot with the blister was giving me a bit of trouble, not bad; but I could feel it every time I took a step, the wet boots no doubt being part of the problem. I had to stop several times to adjust the laces, as my foot cramped up, then I could walk on again for a little while.
As I passed by the Santiago airport walking around and behind the runways, several planes flew right over my head, as they were landing or taking off. It was a strange feeling that soon I would be on a plane flying out of this very airport!
As I walked on, trying to decide if I could make it to Santiago today, or should stop in Monte del Gozo, which would be coming up in just a few kilometers, Inge suddenly appeared behind me, and we walked together to Monte Gozo, where she had planned to stop for the day. She wanted to walk the last 5 km in to Santiago the next morning, so she could go straight to the Cathedral and hug Saint James and attend the 12 Noon Pilgrim's Mass. I decided the idea sounded good, and walked with her the last bit to the albergue. Inge had walked the Camino last year as well, a bit earlier in the year, and she wanted to experience going straight to the mass from the Camino this time. Besides, we could hope the weather would change, so we would not be walking in to Santiago in the rain.
The Albergue at Monte Gozo was huge - like a whole little city in itself with room for about 800 pilgrims! However, we were greeted very warmly by a very charming hospitaliero, who gave us an empty room with 8 bunk-beds, room for the backpacks, and the heater on full blast! Even though it was way too hot for us, especially since we just came from outside and were warm (and wet) from walking, it was nice to know we could hang our wet clothes up, and they would actually be able to dry out.
It was good to be out of the rain, get showered and into some dry clothes, and off my weary feet! I had seen the 2 Canadians, Anne Marie and Paulette as I had hoped. They had made plans of spending the night here, and walk in to Santiago Saturday morning to make it to the 12 Noon Pilgrims Mass when I last talked with them a couple of days ago. I was happy to be among friends and familiar faces - it felt right to have stopped here today! Everything just seemed to work out the way it was supposed to!
I organized my stuff, put the rain jacket back on, and brought my laundry with me in a plastic bag, to go look for the laundromat. It was right across from the restaurant and café, so I put my clothes in the washer, and went across the plaza to the café. Here I met Inge, and I got myself a glass of red wine and a croissant, which was the only "food" available, until they opened the kitchen for dinner at 8 PM. There was internet available, and it was fast! So I checked emails, while waiting for my laundry to finish. All done, armed with dry, clean clothes, I went up to the dorm and took a well-deserved nap, until it was time to go over for dinner. Inge and I walked over together, and were joined by Anne Marie and Paulette, and after a little while Inge went over to the next table where she joined a German guy who was sitting alone. She found it hard to follow the conversation in English, and thought she would keep her countryman company. When the Canadians left, I joined the German table, and talked with him a bit after Inge left - he was an older guy, who had biked the Camino several times , and he was on bike this time also.