When we have laughed to see the sails conceive
And grow big-bellied with the wanton wind.
I set out and was soon cold, wet, clammy and miserable, seeing little of the promised magnificent hillside views. As my poncho billowed in the wind and rain spattered the back of my legs, I slushed along in the footprints of earlier pilgrims. The gum trees swayed like masts on a high sea.
The colour of my poncho does not necessarily indicate my voting intentions on October 19th, for like the woman who commented on strategic voting in the paper this morning, I would vote for a centipede if it would get rid of Harper.
At my first stop, in a posh hotel bar barely a couple of kilometres from Lourenzo, out-dressed by fashionable guests, I pondered on the difference between their lot and mine. They would be spending the day by a fire perhaps, while I was walking in the rain.
I walked on and arrived at Mondonedo. I visited the cathedral, only the second church in Spain that I have been able to enter. It is called the "kneeling cathedral" for its perfect proportions and its short stature. It is the darkest cathedral I have ever visited. The choir Is Romanesque, the retablo gilt baroque, of course, the nave Gothic, and yet small, narrow windows let in very little light. To make matters worse, part of the central aisle is walled off from the outer aisles, making it even darker. On one of these walls is a painting showing Santiago Matamoor making short work of the infidels.
I like to sit in cafes across the plaza from the cathedral. I watched the coffee dribble out of the spout. It really is a better coffee here, longer and stronger. After the initial spurt, it dribbles for a long time.
As I watched the coffee dribble,
I thought I'd have a nibble.
I settled on a hamburger with cheese.
And to wash the morsel down
I chose a beer of some renown
Estrella Galicia, if you please.
With 16 kilometres to go, I reluctantly left the town and marched uphill. Somewhere I missed a sign, climbed higher, and arrived at the highway. Reluctant to backtrack and give up all the height I had gained, I walked for many miles along the road, cars whizzing by, until I picked up the trail again at almost 2,000 feet, and headed on to Gontan.
As I opened the door of the albergue. I knew this would be a good one. It was warm and bright and modern. I have a top bunk in a four-bed section, but there's a ladder and a guard rail. And the showers were piping hot. That is unusual when you arrive late in the day. The showers are often cold and by the time you've stripped off and turned on the tap, you have to go through with it. But not today! After a cold and wet walk, I just stood there, the hot water tumbling down. What luxury!
There was no possibility of eating out in this little town, so I bought some provisions and a bottle of Rioja, and was planning to eat alone, when I ran into a Quebecoise, Eveline, in the same situation with similar provisions, so we ate together. We had more food than we needed, and more wine too, but we managed to give some away, and drank the rest. And of course we had a long conversation about Quebec separatism. Once again I realized that the most important thing about the Camino is to be open and to listen.
This is what the Camino offers. Where else can you be exposed to so many ideas and opinions different from your own? What better opportunity to learn?