Xunquiera de Ambia to Ourense

Today was a lighter day, only 21.6kms. There was the usual early stir in the albergue, which I joined, so I was away by 6.30am. Here’s what it looked like setting off in the early morning dawn, some pilgrims ahead of me, finding and leading the way out of the city.

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They soon went on ahead and I again had the walk largely to myself. Again, the day was sunny, clear and fine. It was a bit chilly in the early morning, walking in the shade of the mountains behind us, so I was glad when the sun climbed over the horizon and warmed me up a bit, though the walking already had me warmed up and perspiring!!

The first couple of kilometres out of Xunquiera were through rural tracks, but then the path followed roads and towns for most of the rest of the way. In fact, much of it was a main urban street/road leading into the city of Ourenze, with the towns virtually indistinguishable from one another, outer suburbs, if you like. From that point of view, it was quite an uninteresting walk. Here’s a few scenes that catch the tedium of the road walk.

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Walking along the edge of the macadam road.

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Walking along the footpath through an urban setting.

As you can see, walking through a town street. Much of it was even walking on the footpath! Rural scenes were few and far between early in the day, with none at all as the morning went on.

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At one point there was a signpost telling us how much farther to Santiago, 117.4kms. A couple of pilgrims arrived there at the same time as I did, so I took their photo on their camera and they took my photo on my camera.

“Fountain” or drinking fonts have become more common in the past few days. These are provided by the local municipality for pilgrims and for any others who need water to drink. I have been availing of them. I become my own camel! I drink a few good draughts, as much as I can, and this lasts me for a while. It means that I am no so reliant on the supply that I carry with me. Here’s an example of a drinking fountain.

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Part of the roadway/path was through an industrial area, which was not very interesting to walk through.

The other reason why the walk was not so interesting is that I had a bit of a sore right leg. Nothing like an ache to focus the concentration. It was not too bad, but just enough to make me aware of every step I took, or at least, every second step. A provisional diagnosis from a fellow pilgrim is a tough of tendonitis. He gave me some Voltaren ointment for it, which I have applied. He also suggested a day’s rest.

I should introduce the other pilgrims concerned. They are Denis, a retired Australian, and Michael, a younger German man. They had met on a previous camino and enjoyed each others’ company, so teamed up again for the camino along the Via de la Plata. We have been following similar stages over the past few days, meeting up in the evenings. They shared the Eucharist with me on my birthday! They have been very kind, as the above medical advice and assistance shows.

I am a bit disappointed. I had hoped to push on. Perhaps the “pushing” of the past few very long days of walking (covering in two very long days and one very short day what might normally be 5 easier days, thus saving two days) has contributed to the present condition, but ironically, they are exactly what now gives me the extra time to take a day off without any major disruption to my schedule. So all is well.

I arrived in Ourenze at 12.30pm, having covered the 21.6kms in 6 hours, a bit slower than the regulation 4kms an hour, but not much, especially considering the sore leg. When I arrived, I found the same two pilgrims, Denis and Michael (from the Santiago sign and the medical advice) sitting in a plaza. They were surprised that I had made it so quickly. They had had a bite to eat, so I joined them, getting a meal from the nearby stall on the edge of the footpath.

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A plate of octopus, boiled and cut up on the spot, with a sprinkling of paprika and oil – very tasty!!!

We settled into the albergue. I did the usual, shower and washing. Following the advice I have been given, I have taken it easy, trying to rest as much as possible, to do as little as possible. Of course, I am not carrying a backpack this afternoon, so that make a big difference!! I had a little look around the old city.

Here’s a view of the facade of the Cathedral of Ourenze, of which I hope to see the inside tomorrow.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon in a cafe with wifi doing my blog. I attended Saturday Evening Vigil Mass in a local parish church. I am about to go to the albergue to sleep.

Tomorrow I will take a rest day in Ourenze, as advised. The pilgrim companions, Denis and Michael, are doing the same. I don’t plan to do much sight-seeing. I remember that in Merida on my rest day I possibly did as much walking as I would on a normal walking day, admittedly without a backpack!! But at this stage, I want to give myself a good rest in preparation for the last final walk into Santiago. The distance from Ourenze is 110kms. It should take 5-6 days, with good health, good weather, good luck, and God’s blessing. Good night!

Ultreia!!!

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