Day 31 – Portomarin to Eirexe — 18 km

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Such a great nights sleep after a hour long soak in the bath!!

I left Portomarin at 08h30 as I knew I was going to cut the day short and stop in either one of the smaller villages e.g.Ligonde, Eirexe or Portos rather than the recommended stop – Pala De Rei.   The madness of so many people over the last two days was annoying and my plan to stick to the smaller villages was to avoid the masses.

The weather was coolish and I was rather chilly in my t-shirt but got warm quickly as I started to walk.  +- 7 km out of Portomarin and I felt I was given a very special gift, as I somehow missed the “human train” and did not see a soul for hours – not a walker – not a bike rider.  It was absolutely blissful to just be alone and not for one moment was I worried about, whether or not I was on the right track.  The silence was GREAT and being alone was even GREATER.  A felt a hop in my walk, loving every step and embracing every view of beauty around me.

Resting dem “foots’

My cafe con leche stops in Gonzar and Hospital were quiet and peaceful.  Once I got back on the path and as I walked along I was all of a sudden startled by this loud noise. My first thought was that it might be a jet fighter on an early morning training exercise – however a couple of minutes later I crossed over the highway and it was cars driving on the highway leading to Santiago. That shows how one gets use to the absolute silence one is able to experience on the Camino, making any sort of noise seem very loud and definitely harsh on the ear.  Up until Hospital it had been up hill and the last stretch of up hill to Sierra Ligonde was draining.

What does a typical day hold for a pilgrim walking the Camino – let me explain:

The last few weeks I have been walking through pure, golden fields, explored the most remote villages, seen every color green that is humanly possible and crossed come seriously high mountains.  It is a new life, a life inside your life where you have the chance of truly being yourself, a return to the basics of the human being, where you have the chance of paying attention to the small things that we always forget in our “busy-lifes”. You get up, admire the day, feel in touch with the earth, breath, and observe yourself, your environment and people beside you. Then you walk, and think, and walk and admire the day. You meet people and you really listen to them, you feel a connection with them, they are somehow not strangers on the Camino. You learn from them and care about them in an odd sort of way.  You feel hungry, your feet hurt, your body is tired and think about how and where you will eat, under a tree, beside a stream of water or in the next village. Probably you already have in your back pack some fruit, some oreo biscuits, some almonds, rice cakes or a chocolate.  You feel tired but yet just carry on walking. The sun somehow gives you strength and keeps you motivated to continue under very trying circumstances. You wonder what the family is doing back home, you think of your friendships, life decisions made and still to be made. You continue enjoying the day and nature and observing everything that happens around you. If unfortunately some car happens to pass nearby you are shocked because you are walking now and you see the world at your natural pace and just the sight of such a fast, noisy and polluting machine is frightening. You think “What are they for?”  You arrive at the village you plan to spend the night, settle down, shower, wash your clothes, get your sleeping bag ready for the night, pack your back pack, shop for snacks for the journey the following day, take a nap, blog, keep in touch with friends and family back home, drink a beer, chat to new-made friends, eventually have a pilgrims meal for dinner or try some local dish or join a crowd staying in and cooking. When the sun dies it is time to rest and wait for the following day.  On the Camino  you can choose where you will sleep, in the next village, in the municipal albergue or private one maybe even a pension or hotel.  Or maybe under the stars in the warm night?  Just think of how often you have these possibilities in your normal life!!

And the following day the cycle starts again. You will choose how far you want to walk, you will choose your route, you will choose where you will stop to stare at something. This is the freedom that I have mentioned in earlier blogs, the chance to be you, the chance to take care of the real important things.  There is no competition but there is a communion with the nature and other beings. Once you have been seduced by its charm you can’t even tell if you have been there just for a few days or for weeks or months.

The last stretch for my planned day to one of the smaller villages was packed with pilgrims. I felt relieved that I only had a few kilometers to go on the human train rather than the 12 odd km’s to Palas de Rei.  The peace of my morning had been suddenly disturbed by pilgrims again.  The first option for the night – Ligonde was beautiful and the municipal albergue was still closed the and private one was way to religious for my liking.  It was stunning and the volunteers were friendly but when I was informed about the formalities of the evening I decided to move on to Eirexe with the hope that it would be a better option for the night.  Eirexe was only 1km down the road so if not great I could always turn back and spend the night in the municipal albergue in Ligonde.
Eirexe – you biscuit of a place.  Stunning municipal albergue, even though signed Ligonde it is in Eirexe.

18 x beds / Albergue in Eirexe

An albergue – brand new with only 18 beds – and I was completely surrounded by Germans and Italians, with no english what-so-ever. However as I sat with two Italian guys, we did share where we came from, what we were doing for work, from where we started the Camino and other such pilgrim talk – so despite language difficulties, we killed a very pleasant hour.  (Hmmm, I think the beers had something to do with it)!!  I turned in pretty early, as my sleeping bag was the only place, where I felt snug and warm.  It was a little chilly late afternoon.  The entire village consists of the municipal albergue, a pension and a bar.  The bar had a great menu and I decided on ordering a hamburger and salad!

Another great day!  Looking forward to tomorrow.

…on I walk….

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