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Our day fourteen on the Camino Sanabrés, from Cea to Estación de Lalín, part two, felt long and hard. It turned out to be a Herculean day, completing the full 32 kilometers, yet it was rewarding as well. For part one, click here.
Here is our conclusion of this day, picking up where we left off in A Gouxa, 15.5 kilometers, or not quite halfway into the day.
“Centuries of travel yore suggest that when we no longer know where to turn, our real journey has just begun.” ~ Phil Cousineau
I have chosen to include this quote, once again, for your reflection. As I discussed in part one, this day had a very difficult conclusion, as you will see if you read on.
For your convenience, I have re-included the GPS tracks and elevation profiles for the day, to refer to as needed, as you read along.
Please remember that we were on the Variante Oseira, beginning part two at 15.5 kilometers in this profile below, and the narrative is for this route only.
Our friends, Nadine and Norm were walking the standard route, and this is the elevation profile for it.
We start off with the entry into the interesting town of A Gouxa. A large billboard in the town, as you enter on the Camino, announces that this is a place that has a festival the first Sunday of every June, offering a famous meat and potato dish called "Festa da Carne o Caldeiro e a Bola con Torresmos."
Also, on the 11th and the 23rd of every month, there is a fair here, in the historic buildings with stalls called Pendellos. This market-day tradition was established in medieval times, when A Gouxa, at the convergence of Ourense, Oseira and Ribeiro was a place where all types of commerce transpired. In addition, the monks from the Mosteiro de Oseira would bring their wares to A Gouxa to sell in these stalls. You can read all about this in the above link that I provided.
Sure enough, we arrived on the 23rd of October, to see what we thought was a flea market going on. Since I did not take the time to read and interpret the large town billboard in its entirety, describing these events, we did not explore the town farther. We did not realize it was a fair day. I voice journaled that we didn't need anything, so we kept going.
It was such a long day already, and we were hoping to get to Dozón before taking a long lunch break. Dozón represented about a 2/3 completion of the day at 19 kilometers, and still more than 3.0 kilometers away. In the interest of time, we chose to walk on.
There is a restaurant in the center of town, soon after the Camino joins the main road which I wasn't sure was serving the famous dish or not. We did not ask.
There is a right hand turn, just before the restaurant, and onto this lane, shown below, a few steps in.
Here is a photo of the restaurant, where you turn, where a yellow arrow can be found on the restaurant building itself. The yellow arrow is a bit hard to see. Look closely at the corner and you will see it. Here is Rich talking to a local, trying to find the direction.
The narrow lane that you follow out of A Gouxa is more a path, shown below, that you follow for the next 3/4 kilometers, staying to the left at an intersection just before the next town of Bidueiros.
At 16.4 kilometers, just before the town proper of Bidueiros turn right at this shed. We must have been fascinated by the cows, because we both missed the yellow arrows on the side of the barn, shown below.
We went straight into town and at the first intersection, when we could not find an arrow, we asked and were pointed back to the route. It was in the photo below, where the lane circumventing the town, joined the road we had taken.
When you take the right turn at the barn, above, keep going for about 300 meters, when you take a right turn at the intersection shown below.
You stay on this road, as it winds through the remaining part of town, and uphill towards the windmill shown here.
The next hamlet of San Martiño is less than 1/2 mile away! Here is how it looks as you approach the town.
These past few towns that the Camino walks through, are literally cow towns, with cow droppings along the roads!
After walking through the few meters of San Martiño, on its west side, you can see the N-525 ahead. It is at 17.5 kilometers into the day, when the Camino joins the N-525, by turning to the right at kilometer marker 274 on the highway, shown below.
It's a bit of a climb here. There is a comfortable shoulder to walk on, as you face the traffic on the highway, which is a good thing, as the vehicles speed by you pretty fast.
After cresting the hill on the N-525, in about 1/2 kilometer, it is all downhill into Castro de Dozón from here!
After about another 1.0 kilometers on the N-525 from the summit top, you finally see a cluster of buildings ahead, and by about 19 kilometers total, come to the sign notifying you of your entry into Castro de Dozón. You can just barely make out the town sign in the photo below. The road widens and there is now a sidewalk to walk upon as well.
It is about 300 meters after the town sign that you come to the first main intersection where the standard route joins this Oseira route . The two routes converge, right at the Café Bar Fraga, shown below . We were more than ready for a break!
It was so lovely to sit down for a nice meal, 2 / 3rds into the day, after another 10 miles of rough mountain walking, since the monastery. If you do not want to stop here, it is not quite 5 kilometers to the next bar.
While on our break, we contacted Norm and Nadine. As it turned out, they had also stopped at the Café Bar Fraga for lunch, but some time before us. They had decided to continue on, instead of taking my advice to stop here and would meet us at the end of the stage in Estación de Lalín.
When I talked to Nadine, she had no idea where she was, or if they had already passed the hotel where we had our reservations. After I brought her back into focus, she was able to identify, that indeed, they still had quite a few kilometers left to walk to Estación de Lalín. I had her use the search function on her google map, so she could ensure that she would end up at the proper place!
I felt that something was amiss, but my dear friend was such a master at hiding her condition, that I was not sure exactly what. I had no idea what was to come.
It is only 175 meters from the Bar Fraga, that the Camino takes you on a right turn from the N-525, and onto this side road, shown below.
At this same intersection, there is a sign for the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos de Castro Dozón if you wish to end your day here. It would have been so much better if only Norm and Nadine had stopped here instead of going on!
To find the albergue, continue straight on the N-525 for another 1/3 kilometer up the hill, and make a left where the sign indicates. The albergue is in the city hall complex, with a pool and soccer fields. You could have a refreshing swim after a long day on the trail!
Otherwise, take the side road in the photo above. First pass the Igrexa de San Salvador (not pictured). Climb a small hill to this yellow house, shown next.
After Dozón and after climbing this short hill to the yellow building, it is essentially a long downhill for the next eight kilometers to just past the town on Pontenoufe!
After walking by the yellow building, you see this large industrial building ahead. When you reach the industrial building, you can see the waymark, in the photo below, taking you to the left and keeping you off the N-525 by taking a parallel road.
This side road is unused, and the vistas from here are wonderful!
The side road takes a big bend northward and turns into a nice lane and takes you back into the forest on a path that actually continues to closely parallel the N-525.
At 21.6 kilometers into the day, on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín, the Camino rejoins the N-525 at this large interchange. Continue on by turning to the right onto the highway.
There is a nice shoulder to walk on here, which is good, because the traffic moves quickly on this road. As you walk along the highway for the next kilometer and a half, twice you leave it briefly to walk on a frontage-type path or road. It is very well waymarked.
At about 22.2 kilometers, you come to a summit top, called the "Alto de Santo Domingo," identified by the brown sign in the photo below.
As you walk toward Santo Domingo, it will be downhill, after passing the summit top.
As you near the next hamlet of Santo Domingo, the Camino takes a pilgrim's path to the side of the N-525. It is a nice comfort.
The first thing you see as you approach town is the Ermida de Santo Domingo in the photos above and below. Pass it at about 23 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
When you reach the center of town there is a restaurant here, if you need it, the Parrillada Alonso Grill, right along the highway.
At about 23.9 kilometers, just before a strong bend in the road, leave the N-525 on a gravel lane road, that you can just see in the photo below, heading up a short hill to the left.
This is a close-up of that gravel lane that the camino takes.
It is a nice jaunt through the countryside on lanes for the next 1.5 kilometers. In about 3/4 kilometer, come to a Y-intersection, shown below and stay to the left. There are grandiose views along the way after this turn. It reminded us of the Primitivo in some ways.
By about kilometer 25.2 the lane turns to pavement as you enter the next small town of Puxallos. One of the first buildings you pass is this home with a welcoming statue of Santiago to grace your walk!
Shortly you come to the town cross and a nice information board about the historic sites in the area.
At 25.5 kilometers, pass the Ermida de San Roque at the center of Puxallos.
After walking through Puxallos, it is back into the countryside and the way forward is back into the forest.
Begin to descend steeply downhill towards the next landmark, the Autopista, a super highway who's viaduct is visible ahead.
You cross the Autopista, the AP-53 at 27.1 kilometers into the day on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
After crossing the bridge, it is a right turn northward to descend on the other side of the highway.
You re-enter the forest, continuing to descend steeply toward the next town of Pontenoufe.
This forest lane ends at this T-intersection, where you make a left turn to head for town.
This town is also very small and directs you to turn right at this set of buildings.
By the time you walk through town, continuing on the paved lane, you have reached the end of the long eight-kilometer descent from Dozón! You are at about kilometer 28.
After about 1/3 kilometer on the paved lane leaving Pontenoufe, you are directed to turn to the left onto a dirt lane, shown below.
And thus begins your final climb for the day, on none other than a Roman road! What could be more appropriate for this day?
The Roman road continues for about 3/4 kilometer, when it comes to this T-intersection. Make a right turn.
The final push of the climb is for about 200 meters on this paved lane towards the next town of A Xesta.
The work of the day is finally over, when you reach the small chapel near the center of town, shown below at 29.3 kilometers into your day on the Camino Sanabrés, Cea to Estación de Lalín.
On the other side of the chapel square is this wonderfully painted pilgrim's fountain, where you can fill up if needed.
You continue on through A Xesta, on the lane past the fountain, cross over the main road, and continue straight on the narrow lane through the remainder of town.
The final 2.5 kilometer home stretch is all downhill. The narrow lane turns to this tractor track once you leave town.
After about 1/4 kilometer, you go left at this T-intersection and onto a nice paved lane.
The paved lane walks you through the forest and out by a tiny place called Medelo. Here in an open area, just before crossing the railroad tracks is a nice Camino sign indicating that Santiago is a mere 57.6 kilometers away!
Proceed past the sign and cross the railroad tracks on this bridge on the Camino Sanabrés from Cea to Estación de Lalín.
After the bridge, the Way remains on this paved road, for about another 1.5 kilometers. It is a quiet road with little traffic and mercifully comfortable walking!
You come to this T-intersection, where you are directed to the left and onto the PO-534 and into our destination of Estación de Lalín, at last.
After only about 80 meters on the PO-534, you see the way at this old building, to cross the road, to turn to the right and northward toward Botos. This is the onward Camino. This is where I stopped recording on my GPS.
However since this was our destination, we continued straight on the PO-534 and through the traffic circle in 50 meters. The train station, or the "estación" from where the town gets its name, is just to the left from the circle.
In less than 100 meters, we came to the Restaurante A Taberna de Vento shown below. This is where you check into the hostal as well.
The hotel is not in the restaurant building itself, but actually back at the large roundabout we had already passed. It is the yellow building shown in the next photo below. The hotel is clean and very accommodating. We spent a comfortable night here, with heat!
Norm and Nadine had already arrived and after we all rested and cleaned up, we re-grouped and went back to the restaurant for dinner. The proprietor of the A Taberna de Vento was a kind and gentle soul and waited on us with pride. He was also the cook, so it took a bit of time to get our dinner! However the food was worth the wait and we happily chugged our beers.
Nadine was not herself as we chatted over dinner. She seemed very distracted when I inquired about their walk that day.She had not successfully recorded the tracks for the entire day, but where she mistakenly stopped recording, was after the routes converged, so I had the tracks from my own recording.
She took no photos during the walk, which is highly unusual for her! She finally admitted that every single step was a painful one for her on this day. Oh my! This would explain why she was so distracted earlier. She was truly focusing on placing one foot in front of the other. She said that when every step hurt her, she never even thought of taking a photo!
I listened to her plight with as much compassion as I could muster, but it was difficult, since I had encouraged her to stop earlier, and I was pretty sure that she was struggling. I just didn't realize how much. She also admitted that when they stopped in Dozón, she could hardly get up and start walking again. Double oh my!
After our lovely dinner, the same thing happened. As Nadine got up to walk out of the restaurant, she could hardly stand. When she finally got her legs going, her limp was so severe that she could barely walk. The other patrons at the bar stared as we walked out, it was that bad. It was embarrassing, I admit.
As we walked the 100 meters to the hotel, all of sudden Nadine cried out in pain and collapsed. As she went down, we all stopped to help her. I noticed that she was as white as a ghost as she knelt there, trying to hold herself up. There was no doubt that she was in the most extreme pain.
The nurse in me kicked in, and I ordered the two men to pick her up and carry her to the hotel. I felt certain that she would pass out from the pain, at any minute. I was worried that she could go into shock as well, that's how bad she looked to me. I checked her pulse and all seemed normal. No shock yet.
The guys carried her to the hotel, making a seat with their arms. She weighs all of about 100 pounds, so it was easy for them to do the remaining distance and up the one flight of stairs to their room.
I had them lay her on the bed, and I elevated her legs to keep her from going into shock. Her color soon returned. Her pulse was steady and regular. Her pain also subsided when she got the weight off her battered legs. I invited her to take some Ibuprofen, when she said she had had none in awhile. She took the Ibuprofen, on her full stomach (always take Ibuprofen with food!)
After I was satisfied that she would be alright, I reluctantly left them to their room to rest, insisting that if anything caused them concern, to call me at once, at any time during the night.
My heart was heavy as I tried to get some sleep, knowing in my heart that there was absolutely no way that Nadine could carry on any more.
In hindsight, one questions everything one does. I was no exception. I felt so bad that Rich and I had chosen to go our own way on this day.
Everyone had their own perspective of the situation, for sure. I really felt like I was in the middle, trying to please all parties. I felt responsible for Nadine, yet Rich and I wanted to enjoy the journey as well.
For many days now, way back since Nadine started limping on day one (sixth day of her pilgrimage from Salamanca), I felt in my heart that ultimately the situation would not turn out to be successful. However, I never anticipated the severity of the injury that Nadine would suffer.
To her credit, never once did she put the blame on anyone!
Why we chose as a group to push on to Estación de Lalín instead of stopping in Castro Dozón was for multiple reasons:
Instead I was able to ignore Nadine's condition, as Rich and I walked our separate route, enjoying the day to the fullest. For this, I feel embarrassed, yet I know in my heart as well, that I was not responsible for Nadine's choices. I had given her ample opportunities to find her own Camino. And this day on the Camino Sanabrés from Cea to Estación de Lalín was no exception.
Clearly, no one knew the extent of her injury as it progressed, as she was a master at hiding it. She would always insist that she was fine and could go on, that is, until she couldn't anymore.
It was not until Nadine could no longer hide her condition, not even to herself that her Camino changed. She had walked over 430 kilometers, yet couldn't make it the last 50. It was heartbreaking. It was her Camino. Only she could understand what this Camino meant for her; and was going to mean for her, going forward.
May your own day fourteen on the Camino Sanabrés from Cea to Estación de Lalín, part two, be your own perfect journey. May you always know where to turn! Yet if you don't know where to turn, may you always know that your real journey has just begun!
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