Saturday, May 20, 2023

Day 13 - 19 May - Silvan to Vilanova de Arousa

As nice people everywhere are prone to sing:

Kumbaya my Lord, kumbayaKumbaya my Lord, kumbayaKumbaya my Lord, kumbayaWhy’s your mate still sat outside?

Be gone, foul beast! Whatever it was that had been ailing me, it was on the move. Gravity is a powerful force. Whilst I was never more than vaguely off colour, I had my demon on the run and today proved a rarity in that I finished the fifteen miles in better fettle than I started it.

We were promised hills, streams and waterfalls on the Variante Espiritual route and our first few miles today ain’t called the Ruta de la Piedra y del Agua (route of the stone and the water) for nothing. Through woodland paths alongside rushing streams, the route is littered with long since abandoned stone buildings and infrastructure of the old mills used to grind cereals. It certainly made for a beautiful first two hours to the day, made all the better as it was all downhill.

We stopped for coffee at a nice, ramshackle little set-up before Barrantes, Chiringo de Concha, with large garden space where the nice lady threw in a bit of toast, cake and tortilla for good measure. We were making good progress and continued along a pleasant riverside path, past cultivated fields and vineyards. 

Another hour or so further on, we stopped at the immaculate Hostal O Legado de Ramira in Pontearnelas where they made us a proper, hot coffee, not one of those luke warm efforts which have been rather too prevalent on this Camino. It was here too where my upward trend began to kick-in in earnest. I was feeling a bit light-headed, a sure sign of dehydration. Considering that I get most of my water intake from beer, this all began to make absolute sense because I hadn’t had any beer yesterday. So, with a short term diet of sugary cakes (purloined from breakfast this morning) and emergency water (i.e. real water), I reckoned this could be the key to recovery. 

Pontearnelas was the half-way point in our day, distance wise, and we continued from there along mainly quiet roads and paths with just the one main incline to contend with and from there it was literally downhill all the way for us and figuratively uphill all the way for me. 

Further spiritual uplift was on offer at the small chapel we came to in Mouzo where a very nice English guy invited us in to get a stamp in our credencials. I have previously fessed up to my discomfort when in church buildings generally so, despite my sense that this chap was genuinely a good’un, I declined the opportunity although Mrs C, Mick and Andrea all accepted. The next thing on offer was then a “song to guide you all on your way”. Hmm. Good decision Cookie boy. 

We decided that our next refreshment stop should wait until we reached the beach route into Vilanova de Arousa, our destination for the night, which meant a good two hours’ work to make the necessary progress. At last, we reached the sea, turning right to head up the coastal path, passing under the road bridge that takes traffic to the Isla de Arousa, and then onward looking for somewhere suitable. Our reward was Bar As Carballas at Praia Terron where the guy serving us was wearing a Celta Vigo shirt. That immediately facilitated mention of Carlos Carvalhal and Sheffield Wednesday whereupon he brought up, on his phone, a Spanish sports report on last night’s football miracle. Sheffield Wednesday. Massive eh?

We then progressed the final mile up the beautiful coastline before crossing the pedestrian bridge into Vilanova de Arousa which means village of the aroused. To be honest, I was expecting to see all the blokes doing impressions of tripods but that didn’t seem to be the case. Maybe it doesn’t means village of the aroused after all?

We checked into our hotel at four o’clock and didn’t emerge for play-time until seven. Had sugary cakes and emergency water done the trick? Yes!

Three Estrella Galicias and a bottle of Alhambra later, the foul beast had been banished. Just as well. Tomorrow we have a one hour forty minute, fast boat, trip to look forward to. In the meantime, sleep. A good sleep.

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