Day 9 would be the longest walk for the Amigos -- 18 kilometres from Arzua to A Rua. While an 18 kilometre walk is nothing to pilgrims who are used to walking 25 to 30 kilometres a day, it was quite a stretch for the Amigos.
We would be walking from Km 37 to Km 19. After today, we would have just two short walks of 10 and 9 kilometres each to finally reach our goal -- Santiago de Compostela.
Part of our pre-walk routine is a series of stretches to limber up. For those planning to do the Camino or any long hike, I am sure you know the importance of a pre and post walk stretch to avoid injury. Stretching certainly helped us get through the Camino, without any injuries at all.
We did our exercises on the plaza fronting Arzua's Iglesia de Santiago, built in the 20th century but along traditional simple and spare lines.
We had quiet time with our amigo, Santiago to thank him for having taken us this far and to pray for his continued guidance through the rest of our Camino. Hasta luego, mi amigo Santiago ... see you in Santiago de Compostela in a few days!
There are eleven of us Amigos on this Camino. Of the eleven, five are amigas.
Time to start walking if we wanted to finish the 18 kilometres before darkness set in. But since the sun didn't set till after 10 p.m, this wouldn't be a problem.
We started off on a tree lined track where the heat of the impending Galician summer could not be dispelled by the forest cover. It was just the middle of June but the temperature was already in the high 20s. If you are doing the Camino, perhaps you can start earlier than we did -- mid May will give you better and cooler days for walking.
We passed through an albergue decorated with a lot of quotes in both English and Spanish.
Peregrinos have been walking the Camino for hundreds of years for as many reasons.
In the olden days, walking the Camino was even used as a sentence for convicted prisoners.
It was also used as a way to avoid debt -- ancient laws allowed pilgrims relief from their debts for three years as long as they were on the Camino.
Today, most pilgrims go on the road as seekers -- some seek adventure, some seek an enriching cultural experience and then there are those who are just in the process of finding themselves.
Whatever it is that you find on the Camino, hopefully it will set you free.
There is quite a bit of road building in Galicia. The Camino makes up about 20% of the income of the provinces that it passes through. I am happy to see progress, just not too happy to be walking alongside it.
I can just imagine the wide paved highway that peregrinos will be passing over perhaps by next year. This is the planned freeway that will go all the way to Santiago de Compostela. It's not exactly the view you want as you walk along the Camino.
Wise words from KD, whoever he or she is. Yes, the mind starts the ball rolling, encouraged by the heart but ultimately, it's the body that gets to do the hard work. My leg and hamstring muscles all agree!
We walk through the hamlet of Calle and find this attractive bar called Casa Tia Dolores. There is a huge sign for Zumo Natural which is juice freshly squeezed from fresh ripe oranges. It's just the thing to refresh and revive parched throats. Zumo Natural is ubiquitous all over Spain.
Tia Dolores' low stone wall features all these bottles of a beer called Peregrina. It must be a local, artisanal type of brew. Drink a Peregrina, sign your name on the empty bottle and leave it on the wall. A cool way to say "I was here" on the Camino.
The sun is scorchingly hot overhead as we continue on our way.
This little brook is so tempting -- I wish I could stop for a while, take off my tight shoes and wiggle my toes in the cool water.
We are still six kilometres shy of our destination -- Rua. The Camino switches from passing through small villages to taking us through paths that run either below or along the road.
There is a rather long trek beside of almost a kilometre beside the N-547. There are trees sparsely planted by the side where we stop for some relief from the blistering sun. There is not even a wisp of a cloud in the clear blue Galician sky. Where is an umbrella when you need one?
Finally -- a cool, air-conditioned cafe by the highway in the town of Brea. We polished off plates of croquettas, gambas al ajillo and calamari. We were more tired and thirsty than hungry but we wanted to stay longer and we thought that if we ordered everything on the menu, they would look kindly at our (ma)lingering.
We stayed as long as we could but we finally got up and started back on the trail. The Camino continued through a slip narrow track -- finally, we were off the concrete glare of N-547.
We passed through an under path, following the painted yellow arrows towards Santa Irene.
A small stone altar stands right outside the underpass.
These gorgeous dark blue and purple hydrangeas grow abundantly by the roadside. They certainly merited a photo stop.
The memories of these hydrangeas would help me survive the next phase of the walk as we surfaced and found ourselves along a pilgrim rest area.
A pilgrim rest area right alongside the N-547. Yes, we were back along the national highway.
My sunscreen had failed me hours ago. No amount of SPF was protection against this Galician sun.
Just as I was ready to hail a passing car and hitchhike the last few kilometres to Rua, we slipped back on to a shaded wood trail.
A sense of humour will get you through tiredness and fatigue -- that and a convenient mogote to rest your tired head on.
We passed through these very tall eucalyptus trees -- I felt like I was trapped inside a giant room deodoriser.
Giant eucalyptus trees are perfect hiding places for ninja peregrinas -- be careful not to pass this way!
We finally made it to A Rua! It took us almost eight hours to do 18 kilometres -- walking and stopping and walking and stopping again. That's a full day's work! Casa de Acivro was a refuge of green lawns and lounge chairs under apple trees. It even had a swimming pool, if we were so inclined. Silvia, our Camino travel planner from followthecamino.com had said that it was their favourite stop in Rua and yes, it was a truly relaxing and restful place.
But the best part was the clothesline -- the sun was still high in the sky at 7 p.m. and we got everything washed and dried before we went to bed. No worries about doing laundry again tomorrow -- Day 10, the penultimate day of our Camino.