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Our day ten on the Camino Primitivo was a definite turning point, with a new understanding of loneliness as we walked essentially alone on this incredibly long, monotonous and rural route with very little infrastructure. When our loneliness was combined with a possible culture clash, it all made for a very different day on our Camino.
"Keep in mind that to avoid loneliness, many people need both a social circle and an intimate attachment. Having just one of two may still leave you feeling lonely." ~ Gretchen Ruben
"It's an interesting combination: Having a great fear of being alone, and having a desperate need for solitude and the solitary experience. That's always been a tug of war for me." ~ Jodie Foster
While most of the Camino Primitivo lacks infrastructure, for some reason, this particular stage seems most dramatic in it's loneliness. The hole left in my soul by the absence of our Camino family, was noticeable indeed.
We followed the Eroski Consumer entire stage 10, and added 13 more kilometers of stage 11. Our long rest day in Lugo served its purpose to refuel us, plus for the very first time on the entire Camino, I think we were in bed prior to 10 p.m.
Our early night afforded us the ability to get up and be on our way by 06:30, a full hour earlier than on all other days. Fueled by instant café con leche, additional milk and yogurt bars in our room, we set off in the dark through the sleeping streets of Lugo on day ten of our Camino Primitivo.
I was very happy that we had mapped the route out of Lugo the day before on our rest day. The information in the Combined Guide is really wrong, so please don't follow it. There is more than one way out of town, and Liz was confused about this.
I would suggest, depending where you are staying in Lugo, to use as your starting point, either the Tourist Information Center or the Cathedral to get you going on the right way. Almost everyone should know where one of these two landmarks are located.
The photos I include regarding the way out of Lugo, were taken in the daylight, the day before, so finding your way in the dark may present yet an additional challenge.
The photo of the street shows the gold waymark on the pavement just outside the Tourist Information Office. Follow the waymark and walk northwest up the Rúa do Miña and in a short while turn left on the Rúa da Tinería and walk a few hundred feet until you reach the Porta Miña gate in the Roman wall.
Walk thru the gate and come out on the Ronda da Murella. The sign you will see across the street is confusing. The rays point to the right, but the white arrow points to the left. The Way is to the right, and then almost immediately it turns left on the Rúa do Carme by a church.
Follow the Rúa do Carme until it turns into a path, shown in the next photo of our day ten on the Camino Primitivo.
This funky path in the middle of the city, eventually comes to this stairway, that leads up to the street, the Ronda do Carme, shown in the next photo. A waymark greets you across the street, and tells you to go left on the Ronda do Carme. However, do not cross the street.
Once you are walking on the Ronda do Carme, after only about 500 feet, look very carefully, to your left, immediately after crossing a bridge, you will see the brightly colored building, shown in the photo, with the waymark, leading you to go down the stairs.
Once you have reached the street at the bottom of the stairs, called the Rúa Calzada da Ponte, you will see this graffiti on the tunnel wall below, and waymark leading you left. Turn left to go through the tunnel and down the street to the footbridge that crosses the Río Minho.
Continue on the Rúa do Carme till it pops out at the Ronda Do Carme. Turn left, as described above, and then look to your left, to go down the stairs and under the tunnel to join the Rúa Calzada da Ponte.
Here is my attempt at drawing the route on Scribble Maps, below. The one I just described is the northernmost route. This is a fully interactive map, so click on the small box in the center, bottom, to expand the map, then zoom in/out and drag your cursor around and have fun seeing the actual routes! I love this map!
The easier way out of Lugo, and for us the shortest, is shown on the southernmost route on the map above. Simply walk to the very western end of the Cathedral, which is its main entrance. If you are facing the entrance, turn around and look at the Roman Gate in front of you to the west. (See the photos of these landmarks in my Lugo, Spain article.)
Walk out this gate, the Porta de Santiago and come out on the Ronda da Muralla. Look across the intersection of five points, and slightly to the left, and see the Camino sign leading you across the street and down the Rúa Santiago. Here is a Google street view link, to help you see the sign.
Walk not quite a half a kilometer, and look for a sign leading you right to the Rúa Calzada da Ponte. This leads you down the hill, under the same tunnel as described above, all the way to the Río Minho.
Both routes out of Lugo, described above, on day ten of the Camino Primitivo bring you down to the River Minho, to cross on this footbridge.
Here is another shot of the bridge, with some original Roman parts intact, that you will cross.
After crossing the bridge, immediately turn right on the Rúa Fermin Rivera that walks along the river. In the dark, as we left town, we came across this church, that has a nice map of the leg to San Romao.
Shortly after the church, there is a waymark pointing you to go left, shown below.
Here is the waymark up close. This is the official 100 kilometer waymark and we reached it on day ten of our Camino Primitivo!
Thus begins the long uphill climb out of Lugo. After about 3 or so kilometers in your climb up from the river on day ten of the Camino Primitivo, you arrive at this church below, an interesting place, with an added portico.
We stopped to have a look at the chapel of San Xoán do Alto on day ten of the Camino Primitivo. While here, a bus came along, stopped and dumped off about 15 peregrinos! We figured it was some sort of supported tour, for those walking the final 100 kilometers, and this was their first staging area. My first thought was "Welcome to the Camino Francés!" even though the Francés was a day and a half away.
We felt a little urgency to return to the trail. Soon there was small, older man who was following us, who caught up to us when I needed to use the bushes. He overtook us marching along with his large pack. Immediately, I decided that I was firmly refusing to be part of any race - I was going to walk my Camino (unlike my day four!)
Here is a stretch of this road, on the LU-P-2901 that actually has a side-paved area, just for peregrinos!
As you shall see, on day ten of the Camino Primitivo, the route essentially follows the LU-P-2901 the entire day!
On this stretch of road, we found absolutely no services. By San Vicente do Burgo, about 10 kilometers from Lugo, we could still find no open café bars. We had some nuts and chocolate from our packs for a quick pick-me-up.
I have been told, by Juanma, a very nice man and owner of the albergue in Ponte Ferreira, that there is a very nice café bar just 150 meters off the Camino in San Vicente do Burgo that opens at 08:00. We totally missed it! Look carefully for the sign if you need a stop! (It is just before this photo at Google maps GPS coordinates 42.968889, -7.645151).
The continuing way along the LU-P-2901 is long, boring and could be very hot. We were lucky that it was overcast when we walked through here.
It was somewhere along a long stretch of the LU-P-2901 when a car came up from behind us, blowing his horn as a warning, about several hundred meters back. We heard him, got over far to the side of the road. When the car passed he still almost brushed me and my poles! He must have been only inches away, as I felt the breeze from the vehicle. It scared the crap out of me! In order for him to have passed so closely, it certainly had to be a deliberate maneuver!
I had the urge to give him the middle finger, but instead, I stuck my hand in the air, waving in anger. I was trying to be polite, even though I was pretty shaken! Rich did give him the finger, but then, recovering quickly from my shock, in my anger I yelled F- you! I was not really pleased with myself about this, but this driver was really, really aggressive. I suppose the Spaniards understand this explicative, spoken in English.
Along this long road, they don't really divert us very well!! So please be careful along this road on your own day ten on the Camino Primitivo! I imagine the locals are quite sick of peregrinos! Not everyone is supportive of our journeys! I hope this was a very infrequent occurrence.
There is a short diversion, when the Camino turns off of the 2901, almost 3 km from San Vicente do Borgo, and walks to Bacurín on this forest path, shown below. It was here that we talked to the tour coordinator (who was waiting in his support vehicle by the forest turn to ensure that his pilgrims were on the right path) who indeed confirmed that the groups' destination for the day was the private and only albergue in Ponte Ferreira. We decided then for sure, to go on to As Sexias.
This one kilometer diversion is quite lovely, full of moss-covered and enchanted trees.
By just after nine o'clock, we arrived here in the hamlet of Bacurín.
After walking through Bacurín on day ten of the Camino Primitivo, the way again diverts on a path through a forest.
It was in this section that we noticed some supported Spanish peregrinos, behind us. It was an older couple and young man, who were really, really walking fast to pass us. Here we go again! The "race" was on. We just smiled at one another, and kept our current pace.
Ahead, at the top of a hill, the woman stopped, took off her pack and appeared to be complaining about it. I checked my own pride, because I was relatively certain that the peregrinos would not keep up this pace, and I patted myself on the back for being right. It was difficult not to be smug.
It is everyone's own Camino, to walk in the way that each one choses, isn't it? We did notice, that the young man did not stop for long, but did stay very close to us as we walked on.
After the forest reprieve, the Way rejoins the LU-P-2901. I was beginning to notice the kilometer markers and took a snapshot.
Next hamlet up on day ten of the Camino Primitivo is San Pedro de Baixo. Not much of a town.
As you can see in the above photo, Rich was wearing his knee supports. So was I, as my left knee had started to hurt again, with all the pavement walking.
I have also learned that there is a restaurant in Crecente, about one kilometer before San Romao called Mesón de Crecente. Look for the sign. The bar is 150 meters off the Camino. I am not sure how we missed this one too! (Gps coordinates: 42.959684, -7.729496.)
By the time we had reached this quaint little church, below, it was 10:15, almost four hours on the road, and we had logged in about 18 km and still had found no open bars. We had just not looked hard enough, perhaps. It is still best to be prepared with food, at all times on your own day ten on the Camino Primitivo.
When you reach this little church in San Romao, you approach it from the back side, and come to an intersection. If you turn to the right at the intersection (by following the yellow arrows) you are entering the part of the Camino Primitivo that is known as the Roman path or the Via Romana, in Spanish. Regardless of what your information may tell, you, this is now the official way, and has been for several years. I had this information validated by the kind efforts of Juanma, the private albergue owner in Ponte Ferreira.
You may still see Camino waymarks pointing to continue on the LU-P-2901, by going straight. This way is 2 km longer and on pavement, but the Roman path is on dirt and is more uphill walking. We chose the Roman path.
Just up the hill from the church after turning right on the Old Roman route, there is a café bar where the supported peregrinos were scheduled to stop. The place was not yet open, and everyone was hanging around for them to open. We decided to keep going towards the albergue where the Combined Guide said we could get food. It was only a short ways ahead.
Very shortly we reached the Albergue O Candido and have a wonderful lunch! It was our first substantial meal of the day at 10:30 and about 20 kilometers under our belt. We were extremely grateful! The café con leche and the bocadillo tasted great. I have been told that getting food here is not always consistent, so hungry pilgrim beware!
Unlike other days on our Camino, we only saw one young man here. No Camino family members, one-by-one slowly coming along to join us!
After lunch, the way is extraordinarily rural and follows this tractor lane. We still had 13 kilometers to get to As Seixas.
The day remained overcast, but it never rained on our entire day ten of the Camino Primitivo. We could, however, definitely feel the humidity rising as we walked closer toward the coast, deep into Galicia.
Here is the long downhill after San Romao.
The next town along the way.
On this long and lonely stretch of open road, I had plenty of time to think and voice journal. This was another one of those days where I wished I wasn't walking, and wondered why was I doing this? I didn't like it anymore. It just seemed like so much effort for what reason, I was not sure.
When the doubt happens, then you just settle into it, and keep on walking because that is what pilgrims do.
Here is an excerpt from my voice journal: "Here we are, the beginning of the last 100 km and it's going to be full of a lot of new people. We have to get used to it. We thought we'd have a few more days until we met the Camino Francés for this to occur. And we miss our family!!"
The whole struggle for me on day ten of our Camino Primitivo was that I was feeling very, very mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was happy we were on the Camino with new people, yet when we sat down for lunch in San Romao, I found myself feeling, where is my family? They should be coming along soon, as one by one they had usually rolled in, in the past.
We were pretty much
alone by now. No one was at the lunch stop. Where was everyone?? We saw several peregrinos pass us early on, and there was a young man at the albergue, but now, there was virtually no one on the road. What a change!
After Burgo de Negral, we walked on long, country paved roads, through Vilacarpide then Pacio.
The Cruceiro in the town of Pacio is right in front of the church, below. I still tried to do my gratitude practice and I stopped to gaze at this church.
The horreos are now long and thin and of the Galician style, instead of the wider and square ones like we saw in Asturias. Here is a particularly charming one, below.
On the long afternoon of day ten on our Camino Primitivo, here is another excerpt from my thinking-out-loud voice journal: "My biggest issue is that I want to be there. I want to be in Santiago. I want it to be over! I do not want to be here. How can I bring myself to be here? To look down on each day as an individual day. For me, today is very difficult. I feel good walking, my feet are burning a little but not bad. I am actually getting over my cold, in my voice journals, my voice sounds better.
"I think I miss home, I think I miss my life - we are reminiscing about the future for the first time on this Camino. I'm tired of the food. We said goodbye to Kurt and Ulli in Lugo - very sad! Igor is gone, only just a few peregrinos remain ahead that we might catch up to.
"We think that Saskia and Glyvia stayed at the O Candido last night, because they wanted a short day and we may yet catch up to them. We are keeping a 5 km/hr clip - we did 20 km by 10:30. If they may make it to Melide by today, we could catch up to them by tomorrow."
And so it was. I kept asking myself, how can I stay in the moment today? I didn't even feel like listening to music, I just wanted to be there - wherever "there" was. I was definitely getting tired of walking, even though my body was feeling well. It was my mind, on this day, that was the challenge! And this was my Camino.
While my laryngitis was improving nicely, my gut was flopping around on day ten of our Camino Primitivo. Rich said his was too. We blamed it on the kebab we had in Lugo the day before. Fortunately, it didn't slow either of us down, despite a few trots to the bushes!
Onward we walked toward A Covela, as pilgrims do. (This town is listed as Pena da Galiña on Google maps, but Google is wrong).
Once in Ponte Ferreira, we passed by this lovely picnic grove.
After turning right in town, we came to this lovely old Roman bridge.
At the right turn in town, there is another interesting horreo.
The road gives way to this charming footpath, below.
Just after this steep climb on the footpath, we walked by the very charming-looking private albergue that had been advertising along the way. It would have been a charming place to stay. The Combined Guide says the food is great here too. But we walked on. Here is the link to the Ponte Ferreira website, at a comfortable 27 km from Lugo, if you decide to stay here. Juanma is most friendly, speaks English and will take reservations!
After the footpath, the Primitive Way comes back out on none other than the LU-P-2901!
It seemed like a long climb, in the afternoon when we were tired, until we reached the top of this hill, below. Look for the waymark, turning left, onto the country lane in the next photo.
After walking less than a kilometer, we arrived here, in San Jorge de Aguas Santas, also spelled San Xorxe in Gallego, where there is a wonderful picnic stop and a fountain, shown in the photos, below.
The road kilometer signs just keep on counting up, below. Here we are entering the actual town of San Xorxe.
After San Xorxe, at the town of Ribadal, below, the way leaves the LU-P-2901, and turns left toward our destination, As Seixas, on day ten of the Camino Primitivo.
When we arrived in As Seixas, this kilometer-marker greeted us! 68 kilometers and a few days left!
After the marker, one must walk a bit farther to get to the Casa Goriños, shown in the next two photos. We inquired for beds, and apparently they are no longer taking peregrinos - at least not on the night we arrived. I think the information we had was mistaken, because the sign to the Casa Goriños did not include "Albergue."
The proprietor of the Casa Goriños seemed unfriendly when we asked about beds. I suppose he has been asked a lot, and has had to refuse a lot. This is how it seemed. I felt sorry for both of us and the situation, so don't ask for beds here!
The restaurant at the Casa Goriños was definitely open, fortunately, because it truly is the only game in this tiny town! If you want to cook your own meal at the municipal albergue, below, you must bring your own supplies from Lugo.
I have been informed by the locals that the Casa Goriños is closed on Thursdays, so pilgrims beware! They also confirmed that there has not been an albergue here for some years.
If you arrive here on a Thursday and have no food with you, your only option is the vending machines at the municipal albergue!
Maybe this is another reason to stay at Ponte Ferreira?
We turned back and retraced our steps to the 68 kilometer waymark, and walked up the hill to the municipal albergue shown below. It is very nice, new, and with a very nice kitchen. We were one of the first to arrive, by 2:00 in the afternoon.
Because we didn't bring food to cook, after checking into the muni, we returned to the Casa Goriños for a giant bowl of Caldo Gallego (Galician Soup) and lots of bread. We were lucky to get in before siesta at 3:00.
The food was delicious! (We ate dinner here too.) It seemed to help settle our flip-floppy guts and we also refrained from our usual afternoon beer.
When we went to check in at the municipal albergue, we went through the usual showing of passports followed by the hospitalera showing us around. I was speaking my best elementary Spanish. We were shown a huge room of bunks, and were told the smaller, separate room was full. We peered into the smaller bunk room and it did not appear full to me.
The place was newly remodeled, and the beds were sectioned in the open room, into cubes - a very nice arrangement. The very back corner of the room was very nice, spacious and more private. We immediately laid our packs on the bunks in this corner, as we usually did. There was no one else in the open room yet, so we chose the best spot - first come, first served.
In feisty Spanish, the hospitalera said emphatically, "You can't stay here, you must first fill the beds from the front! This is normal." While I didn't understand her every word, I clearly understood the meaning. She kept repeating, "Es normal, es normal!" (it's normal), as she gestured toward the front bunks and walked away.
Now I am trying to be gracious and polite, and do as I am told as we were guests in the muni. I'm looking at the front beds, that are next to the open stairwell and close to the toilets - much less desirable beds!
Rich comes up to the front and says, "I'm not staying here!" Oh my! So in my sweetest Spanish voice, I look down the open stairs, and call down to the hospitalera and say that we don't like the beds next the door/toilet. May we please stay in the back?
She refutes, "but it is normal, it is normal!" I say again, "But we don't
like it up front," and she finally waves her hand in the air and says, "OK, OK do whatever you want." I say a humble, "Muchas gracias."
And so we stayed in the rear bunk.
While you were reading our story, and because of the introduction, I am sure that you knew immediately that what we were feeling on day ten of our Camino Primitivo, was social isolation and loneliness. We felt this, yes, even though we were with one another! It just took us a while to figure it out. It is what was the source of my unsettledness on this day, without a doubt.
You especially knew this if you had just read our story from day nine and the intense connection we had felt with our Camino family in the prior days! Day ten on the Camino Primitivo was the exact opposite of our day nine!
As for the interaction with the hospitalera, soon afterwards I got the overwhelming sense that she was changing the rules on us because we were Americans. I felt this way as more peregrinos entered the albergue, and I didn't notice similar treatment. They came in one by one and filled the room from the back towards the front.
I wondered if she didn't like the fact that we Americans were getting the best beds? The back bunks really were in a great space, with more room on the floor next to the bunks, close to an outlet for charging, and of course, way more quiet and private. I could even change in my bunk cube as there was none but the wall to see me.
What was normal here in this particular albergue? Was it different for Europeans? As far as I could tell we were the only Americans. If the treatment of Americans is truly different in this albergue, this was our first encounter of prejudice and/or rudeness on the Camino.
We couldn't stop thinking about the experience. It felt like the hospitalera was trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Did she think this was our first albergue and we didn't know the protocol? We had been in many albergues before, and never encountered anything like this!
We related this story to a German peregrina that we spoke to later that evening. The German girl verified that it is always, first come first serve in the albergues - whoever gets there first gets the best beds and that's just the way it goes.
However, later peregrinos we spoke with thought the opposite. Some felt there was no prejudice, because indeed, each albergue makes its own rules, and some are very different than others.
What is your experience? If you have a comment or experience to share with all of us, please let us know, in the comment area below!
With the change in the face of our experience on day ten of our Camino Primitivo, is it any wonder that we had flip-floppy guts that for me persisted even into day eleven? Was it really just the food? I'll never know, perhaps, but I do have my suspicions.
May your own day ten on the Camino Primitivo be filled with experiences that challenge you and help you think. May you figure out how to tear down cultural walls and be present to the needs of those around you, regardless of who there are. May you find both social and individual connectedness as you walk your own Camino!
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