Up extra early this morning to tackle the monster mountain O Cebreiro. There was little need for the pre-dawn start – temperatures never rose above 13 degrees all day and half way up the mountain the rain started and didn’t let up until 15 minutes after I called it quits at Fonfria. The small village of Fonfria had a river running through its centre when I arrived as 6 hours of heavy rain took its toll on the camino with mud and cow pat mixed into a fine runny paste by pilgrim botas y bastones and ending up caked to the back of my exposed legs.
This is the worst day of weather I’ve had on the camino and typically, as I reluctantly called it a day due to soaking to the skin in my ‘waterproofs’ the sun put in an appearance as the hospitalero stamped my passport. So, although I’m grateful to be out of the rain I would prefer to have pushed on today to Triacastella allowing me to arrive in Sarria the next day and ditch these hellish shoes! As Fonfria is 30km from Sarria and I can’t imagine being able to walk 30km in these shoes even on a dry day, it looks like we’re stuck together for another two days yet.
You know that painful feeling you get when you accidentally step on a toddlers stray piece of lego that just never made it back into the toy box? That’s how every footstrike felt felt today as one of my four blisters took its turn to get bashed by the earth playing whack-a-mole from beneath. Normally, the strain of climbing O Cebreiro would be the central story of this stage of the camino, but the rain, coupled with the blisters meant the exertion of climbing up the mountain was secondary. In fact, because of the blister on the back of my heel walking uphill was far more comfortable than coming down – I’d even say today’s climbs were highlights as they provided some pain relief.
The photos do no justice at all to the incline. There were sections today that were so steep it felt closer to rock climbing than hiking as you really relied on your poles and upper body strength to heave you up the mountain. I stopped at every cafe along the way today to get out the rain, dry off a little and check on the blister situation.
I’m now sat waiting for my clothes to dry in Fonfria. There’s a lot of waiting about on the camino, your day is usually done by about 1 and then a routine begins of clothes washing, you washing and then writing your blog, calling your partner, having dinner, going to bed – and rinse and repeat. It’s only 2pm! I may write more this evening if anything happens. This albergue, the only one in Fonfria, is very nice with lots of public areas and clean showers and a decent bar. Tonight there is a communal meal which gives me a chance to meet some more folks 🙂
I have found the games room! But sadly everyone is sleeping (again!) and so I am entertaining myself with a mammoth book in spanish about the Camino Frances and this little number which is a real page turner… sadly it’s not a travel guide.
The communal meal at Fonfria was the largest gathering at a communal meal I’ve ever seen with 50 diners. The meal included red wine, cocido and beef and peppers – not bad for 9€ – oh, and torta de Santiago. My bunk buddy, an Italian man from Rome is taking the bus to Sarria tomorrow and wants partners in crime. He doesn’t fancy the 32k walk to Sarria in the rain! I don’t think a single person here fancies it! Let’s see how we all feel tomorrow, but right now, with red wine warming our cheeks and hearts, we’re a little more optimistic!