I didn’t expect bagpipes in Spain. But I’ll get to that later.
We woke up in Portugal, having spent most of yesterday in Spain. From the sound of it, we dodged a bullet being transferred back to Valença from O Porriño. I’ll elaborate on that in due course, too.
After another unsatisfactory breakfast at the otherwise satisfactory hotel, we were driven to a roundabout in the middle O Porriño. (Our driver had been given coordinates in advance, so there was no need for me to try to mumble something half way intelligible in Spanish.) and from there we began our 22ish km hike through this section of Galicia.
Spain is pretty, although O Porriño is not – it seems like the Red Deer of this region: utilitarian, industrial, and mostly plain, if not quite ugly. Happily, the way soon led us away from the blandness of warehouses and depots, and into forested areas and along lanes through small villages.
The coffee had been so terrible at the hotel in Valença, that all I could think about was finding a cafe to restore my faith in humanity, or at least Europeans’ ability to make coffee. Eventually, after much taunting by signs promising a cafe would appear eventually, we came to one beside a chapel in the village of Mos.
After a more than adequate Americano (and con leche, for Adele), we popped into the chapel to get our credenciales stamped. It was a relatively small, and from the outside unassuming church, but elaborately ornamented inside.
We continued on, past fields with scarecrows, walking from village to village, feeling increasingly like peregrinos. It’s become one of our favourite words: perigrino/-a.
‘Perigrinations of a dangerous mind,’ I said to Adele.
‘Well, I definitely know one perigrino with a dangerous mind.’ (I took that as a compliment.)
After another few hours of walking, we were starting to feel both hot and hungry, and we stopped at a chiarrusqeria along the way and had an amazing calamari sandwich. It will sound strange to anyone who hasn’t encountered it on a menu, but it was amazing.
Refreshed, we got back to walking, with more than two hours left to cover. It was past one o’clock (Spain is an hour ahead of Portugal, so we lost time without delaying), and the temperature would only continue to climb as the afternoon wore on.
Climb it did, and so did we, although not before a brief reprieve in a wooded park, where I swore I could hear bagpipes, of all things.
‘It’s probably church bells,’ Adele said, but as we walked on it became clearer that it was , in fact, bagpipes that I was hearing. Ahead of us, getting closer with each step, someone was playing bagpipes. In Spain. It was completely unexpected.
We emerged into a clearing where a young woman was standing, straight as a ramrod, squeezing and fingering her pipes with a big smile on her face. We stopped and chatted, as best we could, and bought a card from her, and let her stamp our credenciales with her homemade, unsanctioned stamp.
After emerging from the trees, we descended into a suburb, only to have to climb again a few kilometres later. I had been led to believe, from all my reading in preparation for this trip, that temperatures would have moderated at this time of year. Apparently I was misled. And the heat – again reaching into the 30s Celsius – does not make hills any easier. Neither do Adele’s blisters, or the toe she fractured three weeks before the trip.
Still, eventually we put the hills and heat behind us, and reached the hotel in Arcade, where we rejoined our Brazilian friends. They had spent the previous night at a hotel on the outskirts of O Porriño. It had no air conditioning, and one of them said she’d taken five showers trying to cool down. Bad coffee or not, I guess we dodged a bullet there.
Tomorrow will be a short walk to Pontevedra, where we will stay an extra day, saying goodbye, hopefully not forever, to our friends from Rio.