After a long and difficult walk we entered the old central district of Pontevedra. We bypassed all the Pilgrim Albergues and entered the first “upscale” hotel we encountered. Approaching the reception desk I asked the clerk if there were any rooms available. With an apologetic look she replied in heavily accented English, “Yes, but the cost is 85 euros.” The manner of her response struck both of us as strange, but I said yes and we registered for 2 nights.
When we got to our room I came to understand the reason for the hotel clerk’s reaction. Looking in the mirror I saw Peter Schloss, homeless person. After more than a week on the Camino, Perigrinos tend to have “a certain look”. The skin becomes tanned and weather-worn, clothing is a bit rumpled and has accumulated a variety of stains, shaving has become optional, the hair is a bit shaggy… perhaps the only thing distinguishing a pilgrim from some who are truly homeless is the scallop shell that most pilgrims wear.
It is Sunday and getting laundry done would be a good thing. Unfortunately, this hotel charges by the item… 3 euros for a shirt, 2.50 for trousers, 1 euro for socks. At that rate it would cost more than our clothing is worth. Typically, laundry can be done at a self-serve, or Albergue for between 5 and 10 euros for a large load. It looks like we will delay washing clothes for another day or two. Any longer and my clothes will begin walking on their own.
The Perigrina Church is just around the corner from us. It is a stunning and unusual design constructed in 1778 with a floor plan in the shape of a scallop shell. We plan on attending the Pilgrim’s Mass today.
(Update: We attended 1 pm Mass. Most Peregrinos are walking toward Santiago, but we are happy to sit out this cold, wet, dreary day. Mass was in Spanish and attended largely by locals. I may not understand the language but I am moved by the shared spirituality.)
We have exchanged messages with Irene and Manuela, our friends from Switzerland. We look forward to dinner with them this evening at a restaurant recommended by our good friend Kris who we met on the Camino in 2013. It is the gift of the Camino that it intertwines lives in beautiful and unexpected ways.
We are less than 100 km (60 miles) from Santiago. The significance is 2 fold: One must walk the last 100 km as a continuous journey in order to receive a Compostela (certificate of completion). Thus the second significance is that many Pilgrims who travel with arranged groups begin their Camino just beyond the 100 km point. The path becomes more populated and the risk of fully occupied Albergues and alternative accommodations increases.
Tomorrow is a 22+ km day. Given the concerns of the distance, Christine’s stamina, the predicted rain, and the risk of full accommodations, we have made a reservation at a pension in Caldas de Reis and arranged for transport of our packs. We estimate that we will arrive in Santiago on May 3rd or 4th.
Peace Everyone. Pete