28 kilometers, 5 hours and 30 minutes. Rainy day of up, then down, then up, and through Portocamba, As Eiras, the larger town of Laza, and then Soutelo Verde just before the climb to Alberguería.
Our route that day passed through beautiful countryside, though we could see very little of it from the fog and rain that day. Rain makes its own beauty, though—rain drops on pine needles, seed pods, and flower petals. Rivulets formed. Tiny hillside villages appeared and disappeared through fog and cloud.
Fernando, Hiromi, and I started—immediately—uphill and into wet fog as we left Campobecerros. From the blacktop roadway, the Camino passed over a ridge where a lichen-covered cross marked the summit before taking to a pleasant gravel road and steadily dropping down to the town of Laza.
We all walked at slightly different paces and met up at a bar in Laza for some eats and café con leche (espresso with steamed milk) before finding a shop to resupply for our next day, a Sunday. Most everything was closed on Sundays, and we had to prepare. That would be my last Sunday to consider that particular issue on this trek.
The wet fog had eased as we walked down into Laza, but as we left town heading for the climb to Alberguería, it began to rain, though light at first. We each donned our rain gear of choice. Some pilgrims prefer a poncho; I went with pants, jacket, and pack cover for that Camino, more of an experiment than a preference.
The VDLP passed through two more villages before making a drastic change, beginning to climb rapidly. Hiromi had said at lunch, referring to her guidebook, that it would be a five-kilometer climb. I quickly removed my rain gear as the climb began. I would be wet either way and opted away from overheating.
As Alberguería drew nearer, the rain got serious, and I threw my rain jacket over my head and shoulders, draping it over the back of my pack. It would suffice for the last two kilometers.
In Alberguería, I found the only albergue (hostel), El Rincón del Peregrino, and quickly went to the bar owned by the same man, Luiz, to check in. The bar was just across the skinny little street and was closed, so I went back to the albergue and let myself in, out of the rain.
Shortly after, Hiromi and Fernando arrived, and I opened the door, offering them a way in out of the rain, as well. We all made ourselves comfortable and got cleaned up before Luiz arrived and started the pellet stove for heat. After beginning some laundry, we adjourned to the bar and had vino and acitunas (tuna-filled green olives) to hold us over until dinner.
The albergue was stocked with pastas and sauces for purchase that Hiromi graciously prepared for us for our dinner. At the bar, we had purchased canned tuna and sardines, olives, and a bottle of wine. It was hard to believe just how delightful a simple mix of available supplies could taste. So filling. And the company was great. We sat by the fire of the pellet stove and noshed on olives, ate our pasta (supplemented with tuna and sardines), and sipped on a decent vino tinto (red wine).
Costs: €10 for a donation to the albergue, €4.40 for lunch, €4 for snacks at the shop, €2 for my share of our dinner, and €1 for my share of the laundry.