Day 1, Part 2: Las Caministas

The first day of our “family Camino” took us from Sarria to Portomarìn, a little under 20 km – not a killer, but it got hot for New Englanders/New Yorkers in October.

We separated almost instantly, for the entire day – not the expectation for a family trip.

My brother, Nick, is traveling without a phone but with two thick Brooklyn Public Library books: a travel guide to Spain and an autobiography by Kim Gorden. This makes it tricky at times to coordinate.

But, everyone does their own Camino.

My mom would shoo us off anyway after a few minutes, because she sensed we wanted to go faster – plus she said we have “a lot on our minds” and needed to go at our own pace.

Who doesn’t?

We drifted apart about an hour in. I broke off first and went to a tiny 11th century Romanesque church, where I got my pilgrim passport stamped.

I went to three more churches just like it on the way and in Portomarìn, a lovely hill town…

I stopped midday to eat a perfect ten-euro lunch: salad, grilled hake and salty French fries and vinegar with a big glass of white wine. I ran into my mother, which was amazing because there were hundreds walking the trail. We ate, and then walked together for a bit, then separated again until we met up at our final stop for the day, Portomarìn.

So what came to us on the way today?

The little things in life really do add up. “This thing won’t weigh much” really does once you cram it all into your pack – and then have to schlep it around. Too many possessions are a burden. The days have a 40-degree temp change, an added packing challenge.

We followed local protocol and left our backpacks with 60 euros cash and our itinerary for the week at a cafe in Sarria near the train – half hoping we would never see them again. Yet, the bags got to our room before we did, and should for the rest of the trip.

The landscape of Galicia features lots of sturdy stone and slate-roofed farmhouses and rolling green farmland lined with stone walls and fences – and forests planted after WWII, I’m guessing.

The trail so far is rocky and treacherous in spots. You have to stay focused on each step and not slip…

The walk felt very familiar, yet not at all at the same time.

My mom and I discovered that we each took a bunch of photos of tiny house-structures with pagoda type slate roofs, wondering what they were. We discussed them over dinner with Nick.

Were they shrines? Bee hives? Grain storage?

My mom knew the answer. On the way, she had asked another pilgrim in Italian, who, after some thought, said in English, “Mice.”

“Why?” Asked my mom.

“For food.”

“Why?” Asked my mom again, thinking, “Who’s going to eat dead mice?”

“For the farm animals,” the man answered.

We wondered over dinner: which animals?

Probably pigs, right?

Maybe that’s why the meat is so tasty here.

We’re heading to Palas de Rei, Palace of Kings, tomorrow. We have a plan to meet at the first cafe, 7 km from the start.

Stay tuned…