Day 2 of our Camino from O Porriño to O Mesón! Since today was going to be a long day of 24 km (14.9 miles) of hiking, we decided to get an early start on our day. We were up at 6:15, ate breakfast, packed, and were hiking through the darkness of O Porriño by 7 AM. We expected the temperatures to be quite hot in the afternoon and wanted to get most of the hiking done in the morning.
Map of our 24 km route from O Porriño to O Mesón, Spain.
The first time we discovered these elevated stone granaries was in the town of Soajo, Portugal. Now we notice them so much more. You can tell that a labor of love was put into crafting them.
This portion of the trail is well marked with signs, painted arrows, and concrete markers with the blue and yellow symbol of a scallop shell.
The Camino, we enjoyed, was made possible through the loving efforts of Father Elias Valiña, the priest of the Galician village of O Cebreiro. In the 1980s, he marked the ancient route with yellow arrows and scallop shells, so that pilgrims could more easily find their way.
The scallop shell is said to be a metaphor with its lines representing the different routes pilgrims travel from all over the world. However, all the walking trails lead to one point: the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela.
A scallop shell can be purchased at the many souvenir shops along the route. We purchased ours in Tui, Spain and planned to carry it along the entire route. I wore mine around my neck and Chantil tied hers to her backpack.
What exactly does one need to walk the Camino other than a scallop shell? Not much really! Some comfortable shoes, clothing for a couple days, a jacket, some rain gear, a hat, a water bladder, sunscreen, a small first aid kit, and a pack for carrying it all. Bedding can be rented at nearly all hostels for a small fee but I decided to bring my cotton sleeping bag liner as well.
We both wore our Keen sport sandals with some short socks to make them a bit more comfortable. Stylish huh? If you forget your shoes, you may even find some along the trail like we did at the 94.9 km marker!
We’re happy because we’re not loaded down with heavy packs. The key to a happy, successful Camino is not bringing too much stuff.
One of our favorite parts of today’s Camino was walking through a forested section blanketed in these vivid green and gold ferns. It was quite magical.
Another joy of the Camino is walking through the small villages. You can tell that the locals enjoy the pilgrims traveling through, because they decorate their yards and fences with lovely flowers and mementos of hiking the Camino.
Many of these towns are small farming communities where farmers motor along in these small one-man tractor carts and local bakeries deliver fresh bread (pan) to specially made boxes that are right next to their mail (cartas) boxes.
After hiking a strenuous hill we were rewarded with this monument to Camino hikers of the past. It was fun to take a rest and look among the thousands of memories that have been lovingly placed here from pilgrims from all over the world.
It would have been very interesting to hear all the stories of why these pilgrims chose to hike the Camino. Pictures of family indicated that many made the journey to remember loved ones who had passed on.
Along the trail are occasional messages of hope and inspiration. This one roughly reads “It’s not a marathon, do it your way. Good way.”
The road to Santiago de Compostela is accomplished through dedication and perseverance – Step after step. Before long we had reached our destination of O Mesón, 24 km closer than we were this morning!
There were times when we would stray from the path, especially in the cities where the markers are not as prevalent. Fortunately, getting back on the path is easily accomplished by backtracking until you see a sign or marker. Locals are also very helpful – They give you a big smile, point you in the direction, and say “Buen Camino!”
If you get really lost, you can always use your smartphone and the many Camino apps available.
Our final destination! We reached the shores of the Verdugo River and looked across at the town of O Mesón before continuing along the Ponte Sampaio bridge. This area is known for the battle of Ponte Sampaio where the Spanish defeated Napoleon’s army in 1809 and ended the French occupation of the region of Galicia.
Our home for the night at O Mesón Hostel! We did it – Our longest day of 24 km and we could still walk!
We were greeted with a masked face, an electric thermometer, spraying down of our backpacks, and questions about our health. The staff here took the spread of COVID very seriously. After being shown our own room, we rested our feet for a short while, and then went to find some dinner at a nearby restaurant.
Next Blog Post
Our Camino continues on as we hike just 12 km from O Mesón to Pontevedra. Easy day!
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1 Aug 2020