Sept. 28: Navia – 14 miles
I’m so busy chatting with a pilgrim from Michigan, all I know is that the terrain is flat. The young woman from Taiwan we greet each day is suffering from blisters. We give her some of the extra bandages Michael received at the clinic. I tell her (as best I can) that my name for her is “Fuerte” (strong); she’s traveled here alone, speaks no Spanish and very little English.
One minute I’m considering taking off my jacket and infatuated with the group of trees that look like the talking trees from “The Wizard of Oz.” The next minute the wind picks up and it’s raining hard. My pants are drenched and stuck to me, but my feet are dry inside my shoes, I’m dry inside my coat and I’m inside myself, thinking and plodding along.
Casona Naviega is a renovated stately mansion in the English country style. I walk around the common areas, marveling at the furnishings and, when no one is looking, I gracefully glide down the staircase pretending to be welcoming my party guests.
Sept. 29: La Caridad – 8 miles
After a lovely breakfast, with Spanish guitar music playing softly in the background, and a conversation with a woman from S. Africa who’s on the Camino, it’s not easy to open the door and head back out into the rain. Luckily, we’ve planned a short day.
Even though our pants are drenched again, this time our shoes are soaked, but we’re chatting away. We try taking turns singing Broadway show tunes, but quickly realize we only know the first line and the chorus of each song.
We arrive at Hotel Rural Casa Xusto early and are warmly greeted by Pepe, who takes such good care of us. He reminds us there will be a festival in town starting today and suggests making us a dinner reservation. For a fair price he will wash our wet/dirty clothes and deliver them in the evening. Then, while we’re waiting for our room to be ready, he brings us a beer and some jamón.
Jamón is a staple of Spanish cuisine. It’s similar to Italian prosciutto, but with a more intense flavor. The pork hind leg of the Spanish pig is dry cured in salt. Serrano is the more typical type. Ibérico, from black pigs, is the most expensive meat in the world, with a leg costing in the range of $4500. A sign of status is to impress your guests with your jamón displayed on a stand, ready for slicing.
Originally a 200 year old barn with a residence above, the usual stone, wooden beams and antique furnishings take on an enchanting, almost magical feel here. There’s a beautiful sitting area outside our room that we have all to ourselves. We fall asleep to the sounds of music, singing and fireworks.
Sept. 30. – Oct. 2: Ribadeo- 16 miles
Today is our last day walking in the province of Asturias.
We delay putting our wet shoes on as long as we can. Michael has a good laugh and wants no part of my invention. I take the small plastic bags that the bathroom glasses are wrapped in, put them over my socks and my feet stay dry all day.
The path today is fairly flat on rural farm roads. When our guidebook says that the route splits after the white house with the palm tree, we wonder- what happens if they decide to repaint the house?!
We stop to view the ocean and continue along on a boardwalk. Then, we come to a pedestrian bridge, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. On one side is a high fence and the expressway and on the other side is a lower fence and the Calabrian Sea below. The bridge is just over a half mile long, but seems to go on forever and, with every truck passing in the right lane, we feel it reverberate. With heads down, we have no choice but to keep moving.
All along, we’ve been reserving rooms weeks ahead with no problems. After researching for hours at a time, we finally realize there’s absolutely no place to stay at our next stop until Monday, Oct. 3! “Es lo que es!” (It is what it is!). “Monta las olas!” ( Ride the wave!) Ribadeo is our first town in the province of Galicia and the last town on the coast before we head inland; the perfect place to stop for an extra night!
We explore the churches, historic buildings and neighborhoods in this seaside tourist town. Our hotel, La Casona de Lazúrtegui, is a casona-light; “casona” is mansion in Spanish. The rooms are plain, but the building has character and the lovely salon becomes our personal living room.
As it turns out, this hotel is not available on Oct. 2, so we’re “forced” to stay at Parador de Ribadeo Lugo. Paradors are managed by a state-run company and located in historic Spanish buildings such as fortresses, monasteries, castles or prestigious homes. This historic home sits at the mouth of the Eo River and we spend the day here relaxing, inside and out, enjoying cocktails and dinner while taking in the views.