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LIVE from the Camino Triacastela to Santiago, January 2022

teeranaic

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
I have arrived in Sarria for my first Camino ever.

It is now 1.53am local time. I'm tucked in my bed at a pension where, I think, I'm the sole occupant here. The sheer excitement is keeping me awake... either that, or jet lag haha!

If the info is correct (and I pray to St. James it is..), I will be taking a bus to Triacestela at 13.01 later today, and then walk back to Sarria, making a stop at Samos Monastery, which is the key reason for this weird travel arrangement.

Impression of my arrival in Sarria: EXCELLENT weather. Chilly, but sunny, almost no cloud in the blue sky. I assumed my first taste of Galician winter would be wet and rainy and miserable, so this is certainly a pleasant surprise. The town itself feels deserted though. If I hadn't read beforehand that this was a popular pilgrim stop and one of the busiest stages in the Camino, I wouldn't know. Lot of albergues are indeed closed, as many in this forum had warned. Streets are nearly empty. I was the only pedestrian for most of the time in some parts of town. I have yet to come across other pilgrims so far, but it could be because I didn't visit any bars or restaurants today.

In case anyone's wondering, I took train from Madrid-Chamartin, and then change to Monbus at Ourense (same ticket). Whole journey took about 4 hours. The epic scenery is priceless. This is my first time in Spain so it was really an overwhelming experience, first seeing the arid plains outside Madrid, little villages and churches on hills, the rivers and mountains in Galicia...

Also I realized just now I have yet to secure a Pilgrim's Credential. Will do so in the morning before my journey to Triacestela!

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Balcony area of the pension I'm staying (with my dinner on the chair)
 
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teeranaic

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Short update: decided to walk to Samos instead of taking bus to Triacestela, and then hike back through the scenic route. Had sudden bout of diarrhea, almost crapped my pants on my first Camino. Never prayed this hard in my life, so THAT must be the spiritual experience of the Camino everyone was talking about.

Long story coming soon...
 

teeranaic

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
Hello Thanks for the reporting .

Why did you choose the short distance ?, coming from so far .
I am only curious .

Buen Camino

Very fair question! The honest answer is I've never done a hike before and I knew that my body is definitely too lame to carry the whole belongings with me (esp because I'd be traveling to other cities after Santiago as well). So I chose the Correos luggage transfer service. And it also happens that for winter, Correos only offered service as far as Sarria. I couldnt find any other company that offered service beyond Sarria either, or that could have been my poor research.

And why did I not wait until winter is over? Because I've already waited most of my adult life for the Camino so I thought, screw waiting and screw the pandemic, let's just do it now.

Hopefully will be back some day for a longer route!!
 

teeranaic

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances | Jan. 2022
UPDATE for Jan. 15

SARRIA - SAMOS - SARRIA

I had abrupt change of plan this morning and decided against the 13.01 bus to Triacestela. It was too much of a torture to be in Sarria, right on the Camino, and having to wait even for hours to get my adventure rolling, so I started walking towards Samos Monastery at 8.50, just as the sun was rising. Like the day before, Sarria was mostly quiet in the area I stayed in, but finally I came across another pilgrim for the 1st time, who was walking toward Portomarin, going the opposite way.

Me being from Bangkok, I finally got the full taste of -2 celsius Galician winter morning, though blessedly it promised to be yet another clear sunny day. I stuck to the LU-633 road on way to Samos. Despite being the main road, it was really quite a solitude. No other pedestrians in sight, and I've seen nearly no humans on the way, except the occasional motorists who zoomed past by, some of them probably wondering why this peregrino was going the 'wrong way.'

I was soon grateful to have invested in the waterproof hiking boots (I used Northface) and the Merino socks that people on this forum recommended. Although most of the time I walked on asphalt and sideways, there were spots where I had to step through grasses still frozen with dew. I'd be even more grateful later on the trail, as you'll see.

I met two more pilgrims close to Samos. By that point it was full morning. Sunshine was brilliant, though it still felt subzero in spots where sun didn't shine. At about 11.40am I reached Samos Monastery, just in time for their daily tour at 12.00. This was also part of why I decided against taking the 13.01 bus, because I'd have missed it.

Feeling the need to congratulate myself for reaching the beautiful monastery, I took a swig of cider from my wooden pilgrim gourd. That's where trouble first began.

You see, I'm a man of cliches, and of course i bought the walking stick, the St James shell, and gourd the day before. I already had a water bottle so I saved the gourd for special occasion, by filling it with cider. Now, I'm no expert on chemistry, but when I did drink it at Samos, I swear it had turned ROTTEN. I almost gagged and threw up, but by that point the black-robed Benedictine monk had just entered the waiting area, so I had no choice but to swallow it. Was it caused by some chemical reaction? If anyone here has any idea, please let me know so I can have closure.

The tour itself was really worth the walk, though unfortunately it was in Spanish only. Photos were allowed. My group included me and three other Spaniards. I spoke almost zero Spanish but the sight alone was a wonder.

That was where I had my first stamp on the Pilgrim's Credential! One of the Spanish ladies in the same tour group also interpreted my request for a pilgrim blessing from one of the monks, and he granted the request. My next plan was to find something to eat then walk back the same way. By that point, I already felt accomplished and my spirit was soaring.

Except.. no restaurant was open when I was there. Bars yes, but not restaurants. That was such a culture shock for someone from Bangkok, where food is always available close to tourist landmarks. Well, when in Rome, I guess. Someone on this forum has advised bringing 'emergency food' to eat on the Camino because there's no guarantee businesses will be open on Camino Frances in winter, and that advice should absolutely be heeded. Leaving Samos, I soon spotted a supermarket. My hope rose... only to find out it's closed for siesta or something.

I decided to skip lunch (I had quite a hearty breakfast anyway, and visiting Samos filled me with joy) and walked back the familiar LU-633. The scenery on the way back looked even better with the sun shining! But then I spotted a Camino mark some time after Tenguin, in front of some restaurant. Maybe it was a little detour, so I turned and followed the yellow signs.

Doubtless many veterans on this site already know the route. It's the one cutting across hills and forests through Gorolfe, Sivil and Perros. I was vaguely familiar with it, but I totally didn't expect the nature of the trail. Remember, I've never done a hike or country trail, so it was rather a struggle for me. Trail was muddy at some points, which made me grateful for my boot investment.

And it was somewhere on that trail, away from all civilizations, that I had a sudden pain in the stomache followed by a sudden call of nature. I knew it right away, it was diarrhea, most likely caused by that dreadful rotten/whatever cider i drank earlier.

The Camino now has a new urgency. I thought I could hike my way to the nearest restaurants or cafes and beg for a relief there. But my progress was pitifully slow, and the trail kept twisting and rising and falling through the hills. To vast majority of pilgrims, I'm sure it's a rare precious time for self-reflection and admiring nature. But to a pilgrim afflicted by an unspeakable horror, it was an endless nightmare. It was quite a spiritual experience in a way though; I never prayed to Jesus, Mary and Joseph this hard in years, and I kept wondering why The Lord saw fit to punish me in this manner. Was it a penance for being such a shitty person?

A thought did come across me to find a secluded spot and just take a crap right there to get it over with. But how do you take a crap in 5 degree weather? And what if fellow pilgrims happen to walk by and spot me during the action? I certainly had no wish to be "that pilgrim" in their stories, so I soldiered on. Not gonna lie though, there was one spot that looked perfect. Nice downward slope behind a tree, with some branches to hold on to. But then I pictured myself somehow falling down, leaving my pants and pack behind, and having to do an undignifed walk up the hill without pants. Nope, let's not try.

The trail snaked through quaint farmlands and medieval-looking churches, but to be honest it was all a blur to me. And you guessed it, no restaurant or hostel was open at all along the way. After nearly 3 hours of torture, I finally joined the main road at Aguiada. Sarria would be my only savior now. I heard there's some hill where pilgrims used to cry at pure joy at the sight of Santiago Compostela. For me, that hill could have right outside Sarria. The town never looked so beautiful. Also, I met one more pilgrim on the route, headed for Sarria. He didn't speak much and just overtook me, I figured maybe he needed to take a crap too, so I respect that.

By the time I reached Sarria, my scrambled brain convinced me that instead of stopping at the plenty bars and restaurants, I should just get the deed done in the comfort of my room. I did barge into an albergue at one point but a really beautiful lady, I assumed a pilgrim, happened to be sitting right next to the toilet, and my brain -- bereft of all legitimate decision making at that point -- thought it would be really embarrassing and unchivalric if I make her hear all kind of unpleasant noise (not to mention the stink that I'd have caused), so I left.

The last stretch home was a mad dash for it. I didn't even notice the difficulty of that bloody steep stairs close to the Santa Maria Church. By that point, I was sweating as much as I always did in Bangkok, despite the chilly weather. I'll spare you the details, but let's say the story did come to a happy ending.

It was only afterwards that I realized there were traces of blisters on my feet, my legs hurt, and my skin was chafing red at some spots. I collapsed on the bed with the realization that there are still over 100 kms to go, and this was just the first day...

So there you go, my first experience ever on the Camino. Thanks for coming to my TEDTalk and I'll see you again soon.
 
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marigold

Member
Past OR future Camino
(2009) Sarria - Santiago; (2011) SJPP - Navarette; (2012) Logrono - Santiago;( 2013) Leon - Santiago - Finesterre
Love your story! You write well.
It does sound very strange with hardly any pilgrims and not much open. I've been through Sarria a few times and it's always been heaving with people!
Good luck with the rest of your Camino. I'll try to find your posts again!
 
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