DAY 29: Bridge to Ribadeo
The tangy scent of the sea coming from the stunning coastline rides the cool breeze of the morning and provides an invigorating refreshment to the senses. The lush green mountains that dot the hilly landscape tie the breathtaking painting together in a remarkable way. I am tingly with excitement at the achievement we made possible when we left the Albergue at dark, before the sun’s first breath. We had managed to leave before the clock struck seven at an impressive 6:59am. Our earliest start time yet on our Camino had been conquered! This certain triumph sped us along the blue paved paths out of La Caridad, on the final 23 km in the Asturias, propelling us out, unintentionally, to the foaming mouth of the ocean, toward Ribadeo and a new region of Spain – Galicia.
I imagined with a smile the elderly sitting in their creaking rocking chairs watching the Camino walkers go by, but now, the shooting golden rays of the sunrise illuminated the deserted wooden porches, the slowly rusting metal work and the outline of the chestnut coloured terracotta roofs.
It was about 3 kilometres (1.8 Miles) down the wrong path that we realised we had taken a misguided turn, no thanks to the sprouting mounds that were the Camino’s shell signs. We stood literally in the middle of nowhere, next to a seemingly empty farmhouse whose front gate looked as if it had been built centuries ago. Our raised voices must have attracted some form of life, as the next thing we knew the rotting gate was creaking open and a young man was giving us directions. We also found out that our mishap hadn’t caused any extra kilometres to be added on and instead, we would be treated to the scenic route!
Soon the small town of Tapia appeared before us and we crossed through a large corn field to reach it. Making our way through the peaceful city, just as it began to wake, we found our way out to the coastal walk where we sat down onto a large wooden bench and began to eat our breakfast. We pulled out from our rucksacks tortillas de Española, (traditional Spanish potato omelettes), fruits, cookies and juice and feasted. We observed people on their morning walk; an eager dog dragging his master along at breakneck pace.
Leaving Tapia, we entered back out into the wilderness of the silent countryside and I noticed Lalika grimacing silently in pain. He was limping slightly and walked off balance. When I asked if he was alright, he replied with a strained smile and an assurance that didn’t assure me in the slightest. “I’m fine!” he cried exasperated when my parents asked if he was ok with worried frowns. We continued on but we all knew that everything wasn’t peachy.
Dad tried to lighten the mood getting us to sing Harry Belafonte’s version of the Banana Boat Song Dayo. We were changing Dayo to Riba-Day-O, because it was Ribadeo that we were heading to. This belongs to the unique and crazy things you come up with on the Camino to spur you along the path, especially when you are feeling the strain. We managed to get a few laughs out of it and the verse about the Black Tarantula distracted Lalika for a while as we came up upon a beach.
My brother Lalika has great fortitude and an incredibly high tolerance for pain. When I noticed a small streaming tear running down his face, I knew he must have been in a huge amount of pain. After a drink of cold water purchased from a kiosk at the beach, Lalika insisted we push on. For the first time on the walk, I was really worried about him. For the last day or two he had been dragging his left foot along the path with every step and now, just putting the slightest weight on it was causing him shooting pangs of pain that were markedly visible of his face, even though he walked on in silence. I was about to cry seeing him suffer, with such a demoralised but determined effort to finish.
By the time we began to cross the large 600 meter long bridge that took us across from the province of the Asturias to Galicia, it was evident that Lalika was not ‘ok’. He dragged his foot gingerly across the long metal walkway as the clear blue waters of the ocean beneath us churned. The tourists riding far below us in a boat painted with a smiling duck on it waved. We arrived in the city of Ribadeo and made our way to the Albergue where we were greeted by an unsmiling fellow pilgrim who told us the hostel was ‘Completo’. “No matter, we’ll just set up our tents!” and we proceeded to do so. Passers-by looked on curiously as our homes for the night popped up in seconds. Then we turned our attention to more important matters.
When Lalika took off his shoe and sock we all turned a shade whiter. His foot was swollen to the size of a child’s helium balloon and it hurt at the slightest touch. Immediately Dad ran up to the town to seek ice for an ice-bath for his foot, while Mum and I tried to make Lalika more comfortable and make sure he was not moving about. After the excruciating pain of the ice-bath was over and we rested, we came to terms with the fact that we would have to go to town for supplies.