Day 38 – Sarria to Portomarin

John walked alone today while I took a taxi again. The knee still hurts and since we have a hotel booking, we decided to do it this way. I really want my knee well again to do the last stretch at least. My cab ride was quick and the driver pointed out all the points along the highway where the pilgrims would be walking in and out and crossing! He points out villages by their name and then slowed down near the steps coming down the hill to enter the outskirts of Portomarin. He seemed very concerned that I’d be missing out all this!

Trying a new format here as John had lots of good photos to share, of the walk.

John had great company in Sarah, an English lady living in the Netherlands. We’d crossed paths on previous days. A HR professional, she too was on a break from work! She’s a really fast walker, so John walked at his normal fast pace.

On the way, John stopped at an elderly lady’s little cafe for something to drink. She was trying to sweep her place but seemed to be having some difficulty doing it. So John took the broom from her and cleaned the space. She was so overcome with gratitude that she asked him to wait there and ran home to bring her camera and some food for John. Just as she came back, Sarah, Johns walking companion that morning, came into the store. The lady told her in Spanish, how John had helped and how she was so happy to have this handsome Indian in her store and she wouldn’t want any money for the food! Many photos were taken and empanadas eaten!

Portomarin is on the banks of the Miño river. In the 1960s the Mino river was dammed to create the Belesar reservoir, putting the old village of Portomarín under water. The most historic buildings of the town were moved brick by brick and reconstructed in the new town, including its castle-style main church: Church of San Juan of Portomarín. Being Sunday we were able to attend the 12.30 pm service here.

We stepped out for an early dinner and walked into a restaurant across from the church. We had some Galician soup, grilled salmon and white wine.

The table next to us is filled by a young couple. She keeps turning to look at us and seems to be wanting to start a conversation. We smile and she immediately asks if we are from India and then we launched into a long conversation. Olga had spent a year as an art teacher in St Lawrence, Sanawar and had traveled around India during her time there! She loved India! Her partner was also a frequent India traveller and was in Mahabalipuram a few months ago. Olga then pulls out her Camino scrap book. She had jottings, tickets, dry leaves, souvenirs and beautiful sketches she made of places we’d passed. They had started their cycling from Leon. She wants us to write in the ‘Devanagari script’…she insists! I write a few lines and then she asks John to. John explains he’d studied in Tanzania and Zambia and didn’t write Hindi. So she checks if he could write something in Swahili. To jog his memory, she sings a Swahili song much to everyone’s delight!!! Olga is one of those people who just radiates joy and positivity! We were lucky to meet both of them!! Saying our byes, we leave. I leave my handbag with my passport and money behind and came back a couple of minutes later to get it and both of them have big smiles and clap as they point to the restaurant owner who has it safely kept away. Bidding them goodbye again, we head to our beds for the night.

A very special day, meeting very special people…Sarah, the little cafe owner and this wonderful couple!

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