La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653

La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653
La Via Tolosana (France) & Camino Aragones (Spain): "The Arles Route" GR653


PLEASE READ: Our Camino For Alzheimer's Awareness will begin on World Azheimer's Day, September 21, 2018 in Lodève, France about 130 kms west of Arles (underlined on the map above and circled on the route profile at the bottom of the page). We plan to walk together just over 800 kms to Puente la Reina, Spain where Annemarie will determine her next steps. It is, however, Geoff's intention to continue onwards a further 700 kms towards Santiago de Compostela. To put this into perspective, the total distance is about the same as from Victoria to Santa Barbara, California. As usual, we will accept the journey as it unfolds and we are appreciative of any and all support. If you feel moved to contribute to the Alzheimer Society please click on either of the really obvious RED BUTTONS to the right or at the bottom of this page and you will be transferred to the Society's fund raising site. We are paying our own expenses and all money raised will go directly to the Alzheimer Society.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Étape 49: Portomarin - Palas de Rei, 25 kms, Sun, Cloud, Rain, 8

Steak & Boiled Potatoes!

I’m sitting in a Pulperia where they specialize in octopus and I’m eating a late lunch while I listen to this table of older fellas shouting to be heard. I wonder if they have hearing aids in this part of Spain? If I still have room I plan to return for pulpo y patatas tonight!

I’m also consuming a huge steak and a bunch of boiled potatoes that I specially asked for. No more frites please. All this washed down with the specialty white wine of Galicia, Albariño, which I discovered to my delight in 2013. The potatoes now have pepper on them as I’ve learned to carry pepper in Spain where it’s not commonly put on tables. I’m eating a huge lunch because I missed dinner last night and breakfast was just a piece of dried toast, juice and tea. By the time I finished my chores and the blog last night it was already late and it was storming out, so I had no appetite (yes, a pun) to go outside in the rain and try to find a bar. It seems that beer I drank when I came in yesterday was quite filling:)

I looked out this morning and it seemed to be a clear sky, so I headed off without my pack cover on for the first time in days. It gave me the chance to advertise our purpose as my colours were in full display and my Japanese bell was ringing...drives the dogs crazy!

If anyone is still wondering if I walked down the outside of the bridge where it’s considered very exposed for those who have a fear of heights, I took this photo this morning and I had to lean out to get it! Not to shabby heh?

Yup, making slow progress on many fronts. Bruce, you’ve got to try this! I’m sure it will help...

Most seasoned walkers know that when you end your day by descending steeply into a river valley, chances are that you’ll start your next day by climbing out of said valley. Sadly that principal held up today. However, with my purpose flag on the back of my pack, I was in a position to advertise to a whole new group of people on the way up. I think I passed 30-40 folks on the way up, none of whom I’d met before. This is largely the group that started yesterday in Sarria. A small sample from later in the morning. A few started further back, but there are many newer walkers now. You can tell from their clean boots and clothes.

Early light.

I finally found some of the grain storage bins that were made of wood. They are becoming quite rare now with the wood often replaced by brick which doesn’t require care, but looks pretty shabby. Iconic symbol of Galicia in my mind. 

My second glass of Albariño has just arrived. Hey, it’s now 15:15 and I passed on dessert. Besides at $2 a glass it’s a steal here and I’ll soon be back at home in the land of the $12 glass of wine. 

Eventually I had to stop to put my pack cover on as the rain was beginning to sweep in. I was happy though with over two dry hours to begin the day. As I was walking I heard someone approach from behind. This doesn’t happen too often so I was curious who the new comer was. When he stopped after passing to get out his water bottle I asked him about his Camino. We started wot walk together and that continued to my destination. David is an architect MA student at U of Washington in Seattle who lives in Alaska with his family. He told me that he worked on a fire suppression crew all summer going up and down steep mountains carrying a heavy pack. That’s why he walks quickly. He started in St. Jen and it appears that our pathes have crisscrossed as they do for days and that’s why we haven’t met. He told me that I’m the only person he’s met who can walk with him because he doesn’t like to walk slower as it hurts. Something in common! As we were walking and talking we saw something that we city dwellers don’t see every day. Pigs being processed on a farm...skip ahead if you aren’t interested in knowing where your pork ribs come from. I found it quite interesting and we watched for a while.

We walked some pretty country, but we were so busy walking and talking that I took very few photos.

We arrived into Palas and said our goodbyes. David went to find a cafe and then walk on and I went to find my small room which turned out to be off the back of a bar. Just fine, but I was expecting something a bit different. Being in early I took the opportunity to wash more of my cloths than usual. For example, I washed my black merino shirt that I’ve been wearing every day for weeks to keep warm as I walk. When I come in I just hang it to dry then put it on the next almost climbs onto me by itself now. I decided that it needed a cleaning after 7 weeks and boy was the water brown when I finished. It should make it home and my next clothes wash will be in Santiago where I’ll stay for two nights, depending on flights home. I’ve decided to push it and finish the last 70 kms with stages of 30 and 40 which will bring me in on Monday afternoon. Tuesday is supposed to be sunny and I’d rather be in the sun sight seeing and eating at my favourite restaurant and tapas bars than walking. It’s time.

Shared experiences: While the number of pilgrims increase each year, walking a Camino remains a relatively unique experience. When we return home, it is frequently an adjustment as we work back into our regular lifestyle and our friends and family quickly tire of our stories. 
During the time we were on the trail, we have lived more simply, we have engaged with our surroundings differently than we do when at home. We have met people, had deep discussions with them, and formed strong relationships based in our shared experiences. The members of my support group have expressed a similar experience - the importance of finding others who have had a common experience, and the opportunity to discuss and share their stories and questions. This helps to overcome the burden of isolation, that frequently accompanies Alzheimer’s . In both instances, they will join a support group and we form strong bonds with people we might otherwise never have met. 

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