Day 50 – Portamarin to Castromaior

Walked today: 6.4 miles

Walked Camino 2019: 359.6 miles

We stopped at a bar in Portamarin for breakfast just after 8:00.

Portamarin was originally a Camino town divided by the Río Míño and connected by a 10th century stone bridge. When plans were approved to build a dam downstream, which would flood the medieval town, most of the building were disassembled and reassembled, stone-by-stone on the hillside, high above the proposed reservoir in 1956. We stayed here in 2017 and walked over the new bridge in 2015 and 2017. On both occasions we observed the very visible remains of the old town and the medieval bridge and the small stream in place of the anticipated reservoir, and wondered if they really needed to move the town to its present location.

New (1956) towering bridge over reservoir in background

But today, neither the old bridge nor the old town could be seen as the water level was now creating a huge reservoir under the new bridge.

Our breakfast bar was located on the Camino leaving Portamarin which is the first major stopping point for pilgrims who begin their Camino in Sarria.

We looked out the open front door of the bar and counted over a hundred pilgrims walking past in a span of less than 2-3 minutes.

So we decided to have a slower than normal breakfast break to give this hoard of pilgrims time to get ahead of us. We knew that there was an endless supply of pilgrims who would walk through Portamarin until late this afternoon, so when it looked like the initial surge had subsided a bit,

Linda leaving Portamarin in the “gap”

we continued on, hoping that people ahead of us would walk faster than us, but hopefully many of those behind us would not catch us until we had reached our destination for the day.

Our walk today was all uphill, the steepest part being during the first mile. As we walked and chatted with other pilgrims, the majority of them were from different parts of Australia. After several chats, we learned they most of this particular group of pilgrims were with a tour group that had started in Sarria yesterday and was walking 15 miles today before stopping in Lestedo, the village with only one hostal and our destination tomorrow night, thankfully. (Now we know why it was totally booked when we called last week.) We also met up with Ted and Diedra from Connecticut, who had spent last night in Portamarin. They had expressed concern during dinner at Casa Nova about “losing” the group of pilgrims friends they had walked with for several days, by staying two nights at Casa Nova. We then learned they were taking a day off, because Deidra had injured her toe. Linda suggested several fixes which Diedra had apparently applied with good success. We stopped and talked for a minute or two, got an update on the “fixed” toe, then moved on, as they had already “bonded” with a new “community” of pilgrims friends.

The path was ok

a level area just after initial climb out of Portamarin

with respect to walking surface but was not particularly scenic.

pilgrims in front of us

Most of the time we walked on a dirt path

pilgrims behind us

along a two-lane highway with moderate traffic.

The highlight of the day was the number of pilgrims on this part of the Camino.

pilgrims and more pilgrims

We remember the higher pilgrim traffic from previous years

an albergue bar loaded with pilgrim’s and half just walked by

but we’ve never seen it like this.

When we reached the village of Castromaior, we stopped for lunch at a small albergue and called a taxi to take us back to Casa Nova.

Castromaior (pop. 30) is the site of an excavation of a Celtic fortified village that existed from the 5th century BC through the 1st century AD! We’ve “sorta” seen it in predawn and the fog on previous Caminos. Hopefully we’ll get to see it tomorrow morning when we rejoin the Camino.

Aerial photo (copied from a bar) of the “castro” and the Camino path

We got back to Casa Nova a little after noon and did our chores and rested and prepared for tomorrow.

Our logistics plan has worked well so far and if our taxi gets us to today’s stopping point tomorrow morning, we’ll be on our “normal” way again. Jim used a day pack these last two days and although he liked not carrying the extra 20 lbs, he felt less secure and a bit naked without all his gear with him. He thinks he may be morphing into a turtle.

We’re looking forward to tonight’s dinner. The last two will be hard to top.

While walking around the Casa Nova property this afternoon we thought you might be interested in meeting some of the more permanent residents:

and the newest addition born a few days ago

Unfortunately, the pig would not come out for a photo op.

It was just us in the Casa tonight. We asked Esperanza, our chef, to come home with us and she graciously refused but invited us to eat in the kitchen again, like family. Oh, and did we mention that these delicious meals have been cooked on a wood burning stove?

We had Galícian soup (collards, white beans and potatoes), grilled T-bone steak, deep fried potatoes from their garden, fresh bread, creama with honey and local red wine.

We said our goodbyes after dinner, paid our bill for the past three days and Susanna arranged for our taxi in the morning.

We climbed the 3 century old stone staircase to our room and made preparations for tomorrow, before calling it a day.