Another good day! Hard to believe we only have just over a week left. We decided that we would bus today to Triacastela, and then walk to 5km (ish) before Sarria. To qualify for your Compestella, you must walk the last 100km into Santiago and Sarria is about 110-115km ahead.
When we arrived at the bus station, we quickly discovered that no buses go to Triacastela from ponferrada. The best option we were told was to bus to O’Cebreiro and then walk another 20km to Triacastela. We decided to do that.
As we loaded onto the tiny bus, a Korean couple was confused with the language barrier and was trying to talk with the grumpy bus driver. The Korean man spoke a little English, so we gave him the info we had on where the bus was going. He was putting his girlfriend on the bus, and he would follow on foot. From what we pieced together, we think she had an injury and would wait a couple of days for him in O’Cebreiro.
We think we bused about a 1.5 days walk, but were shocked to discover the grumpy bus driver kick everyone out 7km short of O’Cebreiro. Of course, this was at the bottom of a very steep road. No trail. We spoke with 3 other Americans who figured out where we needed to go (7km up) to find the camino path, so that was fortunate. However, the poor Korean girl spoke only 3 English words. “HOW MANY KILOMETRES?”. She was completely lost. We tried to talk with her, and to explain where we needed to go. Where she should come. She didn’t understand. We gestured and waved our arms. “HOW MANY KILOMETERS?”. We wanted to know what she meant. How many Kilometers to O’Cebreiro? To Santiago? To where? She couldn’t answer. We started to slowly walk, and she followed. We walked faster, and she followed. All good.
As we headed out of town, we met a Spanish man. He had a big story to tell us. Like the Korean lady, we stared blankly at him. We asked, “camino?” And gestured up the hill. He nodded and waved his arms towards the road ahead. We thanked him and the Korean lady chimed in with, “HOW MANY KILOMETERS?”. Silence and confusion followed. We walked and she followed.
The road was steep, long and hot. We stopped often to drink and wait for the Korean lady who was blindly following us. We named her Mariko. Mariko didn’t have a clue where she was going. We were 50% sure we were on the right track. The blind leading the blind. We stopped for a snack of croissants and shared with Mariko. If we crossed the road, Mariko crossed the road. If we stopped for water, Mariko stopped for water. She trusted that we knew what to do with her, and we weren’t entirely sure!
The views were beautiful. O’Cebreiro was atop a mountain.
When we finally arrived, we headed to a cafe for tea and toast. Mariko followed. We offered her a seat at our table and she sat. She had tea as well. After a verbal struggle, this is where we found out that she would stay in O’Cebreiro, she was from South Korea, and her name was actually KimJean. But I preferred Kimchi so that is what we now call her 😉
Because it took so much unexpected time climbing the mountain, we did not make it to Triacastela. We encountered many steep climbs that slowed us down. We sang songs, played the alphabet game, and sang more songs and finally ended up in Fonfria for the night. A village that stinks of cow manure. Considering this is what walked by during dinner, we know why…
We met a very nice man about Moms age here at the albergue tonight. We talked with him for a couple hours. He is from Ireland and was fun to chat with. His oldest daughter was just married and his two sons are meeting him in Santiago. He didn’t want to know our names and wouldn’t tell us his. We told him that was fine because we just make up everyone’s name anyway. The jury is still out on what we we will call him (we all have a different name for him) so I will let you all know what we decide when we come to an agreement. He was going to make up names for us as well, but he never came to a conclusion on that either. He said at first that he would call me Sandra because I reminded him of Sandra Bullock in that I would say things like it was, but then a few minutes later he took that back. We are still waiting for our names…
Tomorrow we bus about 30km to Sarria where we will hopefully also get in at least 20km. Not looking forward to the trail being crowded (so they say), but am looking forward to the day in general