Tuesday, 4 April, 2017
It was still early morning when I started out from Pontevedra. The sun was barely up and there was still a distinct chill in the air. The attendants of the early mass were filing out of the church in the main square, and one of them, an attractive girl with gorgeous eyes and long jet black hair, grabbed me and insisted on telling me the names and history of all the buildings around me. For a fleeting second I felt as if I was once more thirty something and attractive to younger women, but of course she just wanted to make sure that a passing pilgrim left her town with a favourable impression of its architecture and history. I could hear my mother say – ‘There’s no greater fool than an old fool’. Still, there was a spring to my limp as I headed down to the river and across the bridge. And I felt at least forty years younger.
For the last three days, I have been on a high; the sun has shone from a cloudless sky; what little wind there has been, has been a balmy breeze; everywhere one looked, spring was rampant; old people, some quite ancient, were slowly digging, spreading manure and planting; the birds were singing their heads off; it felt so good to be alive and back in Galicia.
The landscape never ceased to be undulating; long stretches of uphill, a short top and then steeply down, only to start uphill again. It repeated itself quite hypnotically. It is not a flat part of Spain.
From Pontevedra, my nights were spent in Caldas de Reis and Padrón, the latter being where the two followers of Saint James brought his body to bury it somewhere a little inland. Legend has it that the two followers were eventually also buried with Saint James and the tombs became overgrown through neglect, and their origin forgotten, until their chance discovery by a local peasant some 800 years later. The remains may have been moved to Santiago and the rest is the history of the camino.
Of course, the cynics say that it is all bullshit and that it was just a cunning fabrication by the local church hierarchy to gain power and induce the faithful to travel to Santiago. We will probably never know the truth, but the romantic in me loves the legend.
So, some 70 km from Pontevedra, I struggled up the last long hill and into the city. The walk through the suburbs and city proper seemed endless, but suddenly I was alongside a familiar park and a few more blocks bought me to my usual hotel.
I felt as if I was home once more.
And the sun warmed my shoulders and blessed my third visit to Santiago de Compostela.
If you want to read about my first time in Santiago de Compostela, it is here: Arzúa to Santiago de Compostela