Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Day 34: Accosted by cats!

Oct 20: The Spanish guy who shared a room with me woke and hit the trail long before sunrise, so by the time I got up at 7:00 to start getting ready, I didn’t have to worry about waking or disturbing anyone and hit the trail at a respectable 8:00.

It wasn’t raining, but very ugly clouds were out and it looked like it could rain at any minute. The rain held off, however, and by afternoon, the sun even came out for a bit. The weather was definitely improving.

Today I had a relatively long day planned wanting to reach Ponte de Lima 33.6 kilometers away. If I made it there, it would be my longest day since I did the back-to-back 40+ kilometer day on day 3 and 4. I knew I should pace myself, and after about 10 kilometers of walking, I stopped to take a break next to a church, but within seconds of sitting down, a cat climbed up the wall behind me and walked out onto the top of my pack and curled up.

I had a bag of snacks in my hand already, although I hadn’t opened it. When I did open it, the cat got up and tried to attack me with cuteness. “Meow!” he told me. I understood him perfectly. Feed me. Feed me now!

“No!” I told him. “This food is for me!”

Another minute went by before a couple of his friends arrived.

“Meow!” they told me, rubbing against my legs. It was clear that these cats recognized pilgrims as weak-willed feeding machines. Next door was a hostel and I had absolutely no doubt that they were well fed from passing pilgrims.

They would, I realize, never give up. After about 15 minutes of this, I got enough food in my belly to sustain me for a bit. The one cat was still on my pack, seemingly determined that I would not leave without him.

“Okay, now,” I told the cat. “You gotta get off. I’m not carrying you to Santiago!”

I pushed my pack over onto its side, and the cat jumped off. I picked up my pack and continued onward.

My new buddy wanted me to carry it to Santiago. Not going to happen!
I walked for another hour or so then took another break at a cafe. I hadn’t made it another 10 kilometers like I had planned, but I didn’t take a long enough break after the cat attack so I was running ahead of schedule. I could take another break here.

I stopped for about an hour and met a party of four other pilgrims that included an older Portuguese woman, a father-daughter pair from eastern Canada, and another Canadian woman from Victoria, BC. They went inside for their break as I sat outside. They did invite me to join their group inside but I passed. I wanted the fresh air from the outside. At least it would have been fresh had a couple of local guys outside not been smoking. They weren’t there when I first arrived, and I hoped they’d quickly finish their smokes so I could go back to the nice, fresh air.

Actually, much of the trail didn’t have nice, fresh air at all—and not just because it seems that the smoking rates in Portugal are seemingly so high. They burn a lot of brush and trash—and the smell of smoke hangs in the air persistently. That smell didn’t bother me since it wasn’t overpowering and tended to smell more like a comforting campfire than an obnoxious odor that assaults the senses, but still—it was there and not the usual pure, fresh air you normally come to expect from being outside.

The smokers eventually finished and left, and the fresh air returned.

Later down the trail, I caught up with the same group I first met at the café. They were at another cafe, but this time at the tables outside and I asked if I could join. No problem! They also told me that the only reason they went inside the previous cafe was because of the smokers outside of it. Normally, they preferred the outdoor air as well.

They finished their drinks and soon continued down the trail while I lingered behind a bit and rested, but I’d catch up with them again the last part of the trail into Ponte de Lima. The town is named for the bridge that spans the Lima River, a beautiful stone, medieval structure built in 1368 on Roman foundations.

Ponte de Lima is a magnificent bridge!
By the end of the night, the hostel would have 22 pilgrims in it, with about 20 of us in one room and two lucky people who had the overflow room all to themselves. This annoyed me. Most hostels wouldn’t open a new room until the one before it was completely full. I can understand this if there were just a few people—but packing a room like sardines ought to be a last option. All 20 of us packed into the one room would have been considerably more comfortable if they had split us between two different rooms. We’d have been willing to pay extra for that comfort. Fewer snorers in the same room, and the ones that are there would be further away from others. Obviously, I don’t expect to get a private room at a hostel, but at the same time, it really annoys me when they deliberately pack us in like sardines when it’s completely unnecessary. The comfort and well-being of 20 people would have been dramatically improved by splitting us across two different rooms and for what? So they can save themselves maybe five minutes of sweeping?

The hostel, according to my guidebook, had space for 60 people, so it was mostly empty. With 22 of us who showed up, it was mostly empty—but you’d never know it based on how crowded the one room was. Only the last two people who showed up had a lot of space—and for them is was like having a private room. If only I showed up a couple of hours later, that could have been me!

Anyhow, after checking into the hostel, I joined my new group of friends and we went out for dinner. The Portuguese woman picked out a restaurant that she felt best represented the food of Portugal. I wish I could tell you what I ordered, but for some inexplicable reason, I never wrote it down in my journal and I don’t remember anymore. Oh, well….

Yeah... I kept my distance from this fellow. =)

These guys clearly wanted to jump on my pack and have me carry them to Santiago as well, but I wasn't haven't any of that either. Adorable little guys, though!

This repaving project got in my way, but they let me walk through. *nodding* =)

A rest area for pilgrims!

"Meow!" Which translates to take me to Santiago!

Lima River

This was kind of neat, but it was obviously done with a small budget because only the front two soldiers are 3-dimensional. All the others are 2-D cutouts!
Streets of Puente de Lima

Lima River

I'd be staying at this hostel for the night. *nodding* A nice place, but they crowded way too many people into a single room!


Krafty Kat said...

I was expecting more cat photos. :P

Anonymous said...

Didn't know you spoke "cat." You learn that in Indiana or California?