“This route is like giving birth!”
Maria Walsh is a newly-elected MEP. From Shrule, Co Mayo, she was crowned Rose of Tralee in 2014. This week, she is walking a stretch of the Camino De Santiago and chronicling the experience for Her. On day five, Maria and her friend Mary are feeling the physical toll of the walk…
Today we covered 26km from Abeleiroas to Cee. We woke energised to get a late start at 8.30am. Our hotel, Cas Jurjos in Al Porto, was bustling with wedding preparations.
Mary and I fell into step once again, commenting on the dull pains that niggle our shins and hips. We’re really feeling it today!
Sunburn was kept at bay as Mary overloaded her pasty Irish skin with sunscreen. At the risk of jinxing us, our feet are good. The trick that I learned from when I walked the Camino in 2016 is paying off – I lather my feet heavily in Vaseline before I set off each day.
Mary and I have a similar fitness level, so we’re able to keep in step with one another and we have an unspoken understanding of when we both need to stop and catch a breather. We stopped in a cafe for our usual cafe con leche and homemade orange juice, all the while eavesdropping on the morning chats between the locals. We left wondering what their day ahead entails…
We discussed how we both experienced pain and difficulty in sections of the walk the day previous. Each different to the other. A reminder that someone walking a similar road may find different sections more or less strenuous than you and vice versa.
We discussed how this journey would be difficult if walking with someone with differing levels of ability to you. This section of ‘The Way’ to the ‘end of the world’ is quieter than our previous Caminos. There are parts of this road that have unexpected hills and steep declines. We laugh as we both agree that this route must be like giving birth – when you arrive to Muxia, euphoric, suddenly forgetting all the pain!
Our advice if you are going to step onto the Camino journey with someone is to walk a beach or two, start strolling with no time restrictions in forests and get your feet, knees and hips ready.
The person you may share this walk with has to be comfortable with silence and with you ranting about whatever it has happened. It should be someone who will make you laugh and challenge you when you need to be challenged. It’s important to allow yourself and your waLking partner the option to fall in and out of conversations. On some days that’s even more essential than a good pair of walking boots or a packed bag.
Even though yesterday had been earmarked as the most strenuous section of our journey, at certain points today, due to the heat and aspects of the climb, we both found today quite the difficult walk. There is always a sneaky hill waiting around the corner, just when you think you’re done.
After the small village of Hospital, there was no any Cafes or toilets for 15KM. For a Pilgrim, this is often the most difficult challenge as you are then lost in nature. I love entering into small towns and villages, waving to locals and stopping at ease when and if ‘nature calls!’.
We came upon a closed church at Capela das Neves. Pilgrims were dotted around it, and instantly it was a special moment to sit and catch a break.
The 3km descent into the town of Cee was hard on the legs, but as I lost myself to the words of Santana’s So Smooth and Mary danced to Afro Pop, we were soon upon the town. On arrival, we fortuitously fell upon a wedding. What a glorious welcome watching a couple have rice and confetti thrown over them and fireworks blast in the distance in the honour of love!
This evening, we found ourselves at an hour-long Mass. The women of Cee are fashionable and as we sat and reflected on our day, we were absorbed into the culture of local life. Strolling once more after the mass finished, we stumbled upon a performance by a youth orchestra. What a way to say buenas noches to the 80km completed so far!
Buen Camino amigos, for tomorrow we reach ‘the end of the world’. Maria x