Life after the Camino

Life was very quiet after Rachel, Katriona and Jake returned to Scotland. We had such fun and enjoyed spending time with our friends from home. Now we needed to get back into cycling mode. Jerry cleaned the bikes whilst I blogged in the calm and shady garden of the Roots and Boots hostel. We visited the Pilgrims’ museum, wandered around Santiago vegetable and fish market, and stocked up on food for a couple of days to feed us over the weekend. Jerry glued the sole back onto his cycle shoes to keep them going for a few more weeks and I darned a hole in my sarong that doubles as my towel. Here, on the road, we repair things when we can, for as long as we can, to eek out our budget. After a year on the road, clothing is certainly starting to wear a little thin in places. We both replaced our cycle shorts back in March whilst in southern England. Our cycle t-shirts are becoming thin particularly around the armpits and hems. We’ll keep them going as long as possible – hopefully for another summer. I am amazed how long we have been able to wear daily items without needing to replace them. Back home, I am sure I would have bought new clothes by now.

Two days before arriving in Santiago the first time, our on bike dynamo system for charging devices ceased to charge. I’m not sure yet which part of the system is nonfunctional. We did meet an electrician at the Roots and Boots hostel, but as he was on holiday he, not surprisingly, didn’t have his testing equipment with him. I have had one attempt at explaining the problem in Spanish to a bike shop which was not so successful. The first assistant tried to sell me a front light and was perplexed when I explained that the dynamo was not for a lamp but for my phone. The second guy, sent out as he spoke a little English, was stunned that we could charge the phone, but explained that they do not have these dynamo systems in Spain because it is too hilly! So now we will have to come up with another plan. If I can find out which bit of the system – dynamo, cabling, ac/dc converter, charging lead – is broken then I will hopefully be able to just replace that bit.

More unfortunate was that this breakdown coincided with one of the pins on my British/Euro socket snapping off leaving me  to rely on generous hostel residents to lend me their chargers. Thankfully this problem has been more easily resolved as we were able to buy a European plug with USB port in Santiago, and Rachel brought us out a new adapter from Scotland for charging our camera.

From Santiago, we continued our journey west and two days later reached the Atlantic ocean at Muxía.

We spent a quiet evening camping in the sand dunes behind a sparkly, white sandy beach. We watched small, silvery fish with a slim, yellow stripe along the sides of their bodies, feeding in the shallows. As each new wave approached, they would turn and swim into it, then turn back towards the shore as the wave retreated. In this way, they all narrowly avoided being stranded on the beach. The wave line on the beach, left by each wave as it retreated, was alive with tiny, transparent shrimps. They jumped vigoursly about on the dry sand and when a wave covered them in sand, they would rapidly dig their way back up to the surface leaving lots of small holes in the surface of the sand.

The next morning, in torrential rain, we cycled through some of the many eucalyptus forests that cover the Galician hills, to Cape Tourinan, Spain’s most westerly point.

This is not a popular tourist spot, most visitors preferring the fishing villages and capes of Muxía and Finisterre that lie to the north and south. It’s bleakness reminded me of the Ardnamurchan peninsula on the west coast of Scotland. Windswept, wet and wild.

Running low on water and food, we headed south through the industrial port town of Cee and on out to Finisterre.

This long, south pointing peninsular of land was so named by the Romans as they considered this to be the last bit of land on the earth. It continued to hold this place in the eyes of Europeans until the end of the fifteenth century when the audacious expedition of Christopher Columbus, sponsored by the Spanish monarchs,  introduced the Americas to Europe’s consciousness.

Many pilgrims, on reaching Santiago, decided to extend their trip by walking ninety five kilometres out to this busy spot. Here, just below the lighthouse, they ceremoniously end their journey by burning some of their clothing.

We decided not to join in on this tradition, needing all our clothes for now. Instead we decided to buy and send a postcard to Willi, an eighty year old German gentleman we met walking the Via del Plata the previous week. He had survived lung cancer and a quardruple heart bypass and was walking his last Camino, having already completed about six. He decided to finish at Santiago and so we carried him in our hearts to Finisterre.

An obligatory ‘must do’ for all tourists at Finisterre is to watch the sunset. After pitching our tent near the summit of the hill landward of the lighthouse and enjoying another pasta and salsa supper, we climbed up onto some large rounded granite boulders to the west, just in time to see the sun’s golden orb sink below the horizon. Luckily, the rain clouds from the morning had long since swept eastwards leaving us with a clear view.

The last few days of cycling around the Galician coast have been an archaeology and history feast. Here are some of the highlights:

Castro de Baroña
This fort is on a west facing penisular, surrounded by two thick defensive walls. It contained about twenty roundhouses that are still evident today. It is thought to have been inhabited from the 1st Century BC to the 1st Century AD.

Medieval bridge at Xuño
This bridge crosses the Sieira river on an ancient royal Camino.

Pedra das cabras
The green deer was not on the stone, however, two carved deer were. One lies almost under my representation, and the other to its right. This boulder was carved by prehistoric man.

Here, on one of the three rivers of the town, is the spot where the alleged body of St James the apostle was brought ashore. Jerry and I found the replica down by the river bank, and Jerry, along with some pilgrims walking the Portuguese Camino, was treated to a view of the original beneath the altar in the town’s church.

A medieval city with Roman roots. Lots of buildings remain and we enjoyed a self guided tour of its historic buildings and narrow lanes. This was one of the Gothic buildings whose door shape was unusual and appealing.
The cathedral sports some particularly fine medieval stone carving. The statue of St Jerome, above, stood out because he is wearing glasses. These are an early depiction of spectacles and denote wisdom and learning.

Now we have arrived at our next Workaway that is high in the Galician mountains. We’ll stay here for a couple of weeks helping Lucas, an energetic twenty year old, and his parents, with their house renovation and vegetable gardening project. I’m wanting to improve my Spanish listening and speaking and we both want to learn more about living here in Galicia.


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