Via de la Plata – Day 31: Oseira to A Laxe

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30 kilometers, 5 hours. After a steep, rocky climb out of Oseira, the VDLP route passed through or near small villages like Piñor, then through the larger town of Castro Dozón on the N-525 highway and more villages, and along the outskirts of Botes. The route to A Laxe was mostly downhill, but there were enough little climbs to make us question that reality.

We woke to moderate temperatures, much nicer than when we returned to the monastery the night before, and we stepped out under a beautiful, clear blue sky. This was the first morning I was clothed in just the right arrangement—one layer and a beanie cap. As we climbed, I got warm but not sweaty. That was a first in a month on the trail. I must have been learning, however slowly.

After we made the top of our climb, we passed two men from California we had met two days before. Didn’t get their names, but I called one Mountain View, because he lived there, and he called me Napa, figuring that was close enough. I always tell people I’m from near the Napa Valley. Everyone knows that place; not many know my little hometown.

This, and much of what I had seen since walking into Ourense, was what I fondly think of as Galicia. Green and more green. Beautiful views in all directions. And the stuff on my shoes, not so much mud as . . . lots of cows are walked through villages, up this bit of trail and down that. Enough said there, eh?

We finished our day, Fernando and I, at a xunta albergue (municipal hostel) in A Laxe. The albergue was very modern in architecture, with many angular lines and much more glass than you see in most of Spain. It was very large with sitting rooms, a huge double kitchen, and a dining area. And a four-bay laundry station.

I knew my time in Spain was coming to an end because I was tiring of washing clothes in a basin—even those with an integral washboard. And I was tired of cold hands in the process. There’s seldom hot water at the lavadora (washer).

For slideshow, click on imagine.

Moreover, I was tiring of disposable sheets and motion lights and no darned Internet. We had stayed in xunta albergues when possible because they are very inexpensive, and to support them helps ensure they will remain in years to come. The local government largely funds them, and using them helps keep the albergues in service for future pilgrims. One downside was in Galician, the albergues used a government network for Internet access that you registered for, and then you would be texted a password on your phone—unless you had an international number.

Another downside was that I had a visitor in the night. After dining at a nearby bar, we returned to the albergue and went to our bunks for the night. As was my custom, I was reading from my smartphone. It was very dark otherwise. The screen of my phone was lighting only a small area and was not disturbing Fernando, who was clear across the room, resting in slumber. As I lay there, I could hear some slight rusting at my backpack, which was leaning against the wall beside my bunk. I slowly turned my phone to light the pack, and there was a mouse scrambling up the pack, looking and sniffing here and there in its progress. Without much thought, I flipped it off with a flip of my wrist and promptly put my pack on the top bunk above me. Back to my book and then to my own slumber.

Costs: €6 for the albergue, €3 for breakfast, €6 for lunch, and €11.50 for dinner.