Thursday, October 26, 2023

Day 4 - 25 October - Olveiroa to Cee

As The Eurythmics famously sang:

Here comes the rain againSlapping on my head through the hood of my ponchoTrickling down my boots like a strange emotionI want to walk through the rain and windWalking through the hills as it does its worstHoping I’ll get down to the oceanWithout drowning first

I woke up at seven o’clock and checked outside the window to confirm that it wasn’t raining. It was definitely going to rain but the forecast suggested that we had until around ten o’clock before this scenario was likely to unfold. Accordingly we determined a prompt start to be sensible so after coffee and cake in the large and functional but unattractive bar at Casa Loncho, we set off at twenty to nine still in relative darkness. Almost immediately we were in open moorland leading to forested hills where, despite a heavy morning mist, we enjoyed views across valleys from our heightened viewpoint. 

Surprisingly, we haven’t seen a great deal of wildlife on this adventure, more wild death as it happens with the species leading the way in the we-really-can’t-cope-with-the-heavy-rains stakes being the rather attractive but not good at swimming salamander. Other competitors over the last three days have been frogs and a solitary dead rat. Whilst I rather like frogs, I am afraid that the only good rat is a dead one. 

During the first hour of walking today, we passed through two small hamlets so tiny that the word hamlet probably over-exaggerates their existence. I mention this only in that by the time one reaches the point at which the route splits dependent upon whether you are heading for Finisterre or Muxia, a roadside bar at this point makes it very clear that if you are taking the Finisterre option (we were) then that is it for civilisation of any description until you get to Cee, around eight miles away. 

Also at this juncture, right on cue at ten o’clock, the promised rain made its appearance.

By this time we were around one third of the way through our total near twelve mile day. Initially, the rain was inconvenient only in so much as it is usually preferable that it not be raining. Certainly, yesterday’s fearsome, gale-inspired precipitation was not in danger of being imitated at this stage, but as we ventured further into this eight miles of picturesque nothingness, so the guy in charge of the weather control button gradually kept cranking it towards bad weather max. By the time we reached Ermita San Pedro Mártir, from where one can usually see the sea and the town of Cee, one in fact couldn’t see the sea or see Cee. I could hardly see Mrs C. 

This particular Ermita is where St Peter the Martyr cures your aches and pains by your placing the afflicted body part(s) in the waters of the holy spring. However, by now, we decided that we were wet enough already. Worse was to come however.

We hit the high plain. No forestry to the side of the path to lend at least a modicum of protection from the wind and rain. Obviously this is something that the local authorities are working on because as we battled against the elements, so did a team of hi-viz clad workers busily planting saplings in the moorland to our left hand side as the heavy rain fell, the heavy winds blew and a heavy mist enveloped the lot of us. The path was now more quagmire than footpath, not helped by the four-wheel drive vehicles which had ferried the hi-viz clad workers there in the first place. It would be fair to say that this was a particular low point for Mrs C whose left knee was causing her some not inconsiderable grief.

By contrast, the subsequent not quite so bad conditions came as some relief on the long, three hundred metre descent down into Cee, it being accompanied by more forestry and therefore offering greater shelter from the wind and rain. The unstable cinder path however did just about do for Mrs C’s good spirits and the final half mile to our hotel was taken slowly and with not a few choice words along the way.

Hotel La Marina. What a life saver. Within forty minutes of arrival we were in the hotel bar enjoying a beer and a plate each of their albondigas (meat balls) and chips. Delicious. Thereafter we briefly ventured out to find a lavanderia in which to dry out our wet stuff and then returned to the hotel to plan for our evening sortie.

Cee is a small city, located along the shores of the Ría de Corcubión on the Costa da Morte (coast of death). I’m guessing that most people die of pneumonia. It may not be an attractive small city, whether aesthetically or for reasons of health, but those that do survive it here appear to have a good selection of bars to choose from.

Generally speaking, of an evening, Mrs C and I like to find a bar in which to seek inspiration for the planning of the following day’s route and booking of suitable accommodation. Thereafter, it’s usually a couple more beers and then something to eat. Having already eaten at three o’clock though, we weren’t particularly ravenous when we set off out again three hours later and were happy to find a beer and pizza place just around the corner from the hotel. The rain started hammering down again and we moved inside. Ooh, Barcelona v Shakhtar Donetsk on the TV. Ooh, a free little slice of pizza - don’t mind if I do. Another one of those nice Estrella Galicia 1906 beers please. Ooh, another free little slice of pizza. Another 1906 please. Ooh, a free little seafood wrap. You get the gist. 

Barcelona were two-one up by the time we left, midway through the second half. Tomorrow’s route and accommodation were now all sorted and with the rain having ceased, we returned to our hotel bar for one last beer and - ooh a free little piece of lasagna - whilst seeing out the last few minutes of the Barcelona game before retiring to bed. 

Tomorrow, knees and weather permitting, we should arrive at Finisterre, the traditional final destination for peregrinos on the Camino de Santiago. Finisterre, on the coast of death at the end of the world with more bad weather incoming. What could possibly go wrong?

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