This next stage started really boringly, we peregrinos were competing with the huge road system which was carved out of the mountains.
They criss-crossed over our heads and towered above us for most of the way out if Villafranca.
It rained again just after I had set out but I had planned to have my bag sent on to La Portela de Valcarce, a sort of truckers pit stop area where I stopped and met with Trina again. We had a bite to eat and then decided to share a taxi on to Laguna de Castila.
This was a bit of a cop-out but the climb up to O’Cebreiro looked quite difficult and, with the rain would not have been pleasant.
Norbert, our German friend was also having a meal and he had suggested, instead of going to O’Cebreiro, we should stop at Laguna as O’Cebreiro was always very busy. We decided to take his advice and booked our taxi.
I say taxi but it just looked like a guy who was taking his father out for a drive and we were just petrol money for him.
We jumped in the taxi and immediately the old guy started to try to talk to me. Have no idea what he was saying but got the impression he was making some comment about me and Trina getting up to things along the way. His son was constantly trying to tell him to be quiet. I think Trina got a bit embarrassed, she said later on that she got the same impression.
The guy driving had obviously been given the wrong information by the girl in the pit stop but as we were pulling into O’Cebreiro I said we were supposed to be going to Laguna. As we were already there we decided to check for accommodation anyway.
The film “The Way” has really boosted the Camino all of a sudden. The numbers of Americans and Canadians who are here this year has apparently grown dramatically.
This purpose-built village was thronged with people.
If you can imagine a slate stone built village, immaculately designed to look ancient. There is an hotel, a pension and an albergue. All were full to bursting. Some people had even resorted to pitching a tent in a little bus-shelter like nook.
We headed back down the mountain to hopefully get a bed for the night. We were in luck. Hung our soaking wet coats and ponchos in a garage across from the albergue and ran through the rain to get our gear into the dorm.
The albergue in Laguna was built with the same stone and was quite nice inside. They had a fantastic washing and drying facility. Leave your washing and they will have it set on your bunk in two hours, dry and folded. Luxury.
I settled in for a jar and watched as the late peregrinos tried to get a bed for the night. They were tired and soaked to the skin. As they got turned away I felt really sorry for them having to go another 2 kms. or more to try to find accommodation just to get refused again. The next stops after that were another 3 and 5 kms. further on. I couldn’t have coped with that after climbing such a long climb up to the top of that hill.
Met Brian from Dublin who kept saying he had to go but then changed his mind and was actually there to the death, after meeting Norbert from Germany again and also Piers and Alfonso, a couple of guys who would remind you of the odd couple. We all had a great peregrino meal finished off with tarta almendra. Alfonso, from Santander, via Madrid introduced us to the delights of the drizzling on of a liquor akin to raki which was fantastic.
Had great discussions and sorted the world’s problems before wishing all a Buen Camino and retiring for the night.
Slumped into the bottom bunk in the 5 bed dorm after sorting my rucksack for transportation the following morning. This task is crucial and you also have to make sure you have enough change to put into the envelope for the payment of around €7 for 15 km.
Onwards and hopefully downwards.