Monday, June 26, 2017

Day 39: The Route of Stone and Water

Oct 25: Finally! A hostel that wasn’t going to kick us out before sunrise! I woke up, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth, packed up and hit the trail at around 9:00 just as the sky started brightening. I was the first of the pilgrims to leave.

The trail almost immediately turned onto a narrow dirt path labeled “Ruta de la Piedra y del Agua,” or the Route of Stone and Water. The yellow arrows disappeared which concerned me at first. I knew the trail was supposed to follow the Stone and Water Route for several kilometers so I just followed the Stone and Water Route signs, but the lack of yellow arrows was somewhat worrisome.

The route, however, was absolutely wonderful! The trail—and it was a genuine trail with dirt and mud, over rocks and through the trees—followed alongside a scenic creek dotted with countless scenic, abandoned mills made of stone. The creek was the water while the abandoned mills were the stones. Awesome! Awesome! Awesome! What an absolute jewel of a trail!

Near the end of it, the trail reached a clearing with all sorts of wonderful statues. I took photos of them all, but they didn’t always turn out well under the heavy canopy that blocked much of the daylight.

At the end of the Route of Stone and Water, the yellow arrows picked up again. I was relieved about this. Whew! I’d have been seriously lost if there wasn’t anything to mark the route.

The rest of the day’s hike was nice. Not “great,” but it was a pleasant riverside walk, and eventually reached the Atlantic coast which was spectacular in its own right.

At one point in the afternoon, an “aggressive sprinkle” startled me. It was sunny and the sky was absolutely clear and beautiful without the tiniest hint of rain… so where did the rain come from?! I looked around trying to figure out the source of the sprinkle but I didn’t see one. It’s as if the rain just popped into existence right above my head. It only lasted for a minute or two then stopped as mysteriously as it started.

The next (and last) hostel of the Spiritual Variant was located in Vilanova de Arousa. I had trouble finding it at first, following the yellow arrows into town where the arrows mysteriously disappeared. I backtracked a block and eventually figured out where I had gone astray. A small sign on the door of a large gymnasium was labeled as the alburgue. I walked into the gymnasium, not entirely sure this could be correct. A gym? Really? I had walked passed the building without taking a closer look—not suspecting for a second that that was actually the alburgue.

Inside, the signs continued to point the way to the alburgue up on the second floor and yep, that was it. I was surprised to see the two girls from Italy had beaten me there. I left the hostel this morning before them, and they never passed them on the trail. How did they get ahead of me? They told me that their feet were hurting bad and used their smartphones to look up a map of the area and realized that could shorten the day’s walk by taking a road into town instead of the trail that I followed. Ahhh, well, that certainly explains it!

An hour later, the two Swiss women arrived and the group of us were back together again. The fellow running the hostel asked if we knew of anyone else who’d be arriving and we told them no. Anyone else who arrived would have had to have walked about 45 kilometers if they came from a hostel other than the one we stayed at the night before, which seemed highly unlikely. Pretty much everyone who walks the Spiritual Variant always stays in the same two hostels since those are the only two and both are a solid day’s walk apart from each other. We were the only five pilgrims on this section of trail.

I went out for dinner and when I returned to the hostel later that evening, there was a woman’s soccer game happening. I was warned that there would be a soccer game this evening, but it had started quite late and I was concerned it might go on until midnight and disturb my sleep. The two Italian girls were excited about the game since they played soccer together in Italy. Maybe they’d pick up a few tricks of the trade, I guess. So they walked up into the bleachers to watch the game.

Actually, calling it a game might be something of a misnomer. It looked more like a practice game, although the scoreboard was lit up and tracking the score. It didn’t seem to have the fast pace of soccer games I’ve seen before. I only watched for five or ten minutes, curious but not particularly interested even if there were a bunch of young women running around in short shorts. =)

If the noise from that wasn’t enough to keep us up all night, there was some sort of dance lessons happening on the floor directly above the bunkroom. Salsa, perhaps? But they were prancing around, jumping and landing hard with a boom that reverberated through the bunkroom.

It was one of the strangest hostel experiences of my life, and I was glad of it. But I hoped neither the dance lessons nor the soccer game would go on too late at night. I did want to get some sleep!

The Route of Stone of Water was absolutely delightful! =)

This was my favorite of statues in the clearing. =)

The "stone" of "Stone and Water" are these old mills that are no longer in use.
And that brings us to the end of the Route of Stone and Water.

Even though we're no longer the Route of Stone and Water, it's still nice! =)

I could only get a photo of the bee's butt! Sexy, eh? =)

Whoever made this arrow seemed to be having a good time doing it! =)

This town had all sorts of wonderful statues in the roundabouts!
It's all fun and games until one of the band loses their head. =(
That's not a cheerful statue....

Rainbow!!! =)

They're really trying to sell the Spiritual Variant! And look! There's even a Polish flag! =)

Vilanova de Arousa

WTF?! Seriously... WTF?!

Perhaps the most interesting hostel I've ever stayed at! Those beds are in the bunkroom. And later tonight... we can watch a soccer game! =)
Sunset by the albergue


Anonymous said...

Are you collecting any interesting pilgrimage stamps along the spiritual variant?

Ryan said...

Just the usual ones at the albergues. Nothing special, though.

-- Ryan