Day 63 (29/Nov/2017): Cea to Lalin (29km + 4km detour?)

Cea to Dozon = 14km; Dozon to As Romeas = 15km?; As Romeas to Lalin (non-Camino route) = 4km
“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Mark Twain)
A short update today, since I must rest and I want to try to walk about 30km tomorrow. I’m writing this from the wonderful albergue in Lalin, after a super welcome from Emiliano, the vice-president of Lalin’s Camino de Santiago association and owner of the A Casa Do Gato restaurant.
Lalin is the point at which the historical Camino Sanabres is joined by a more recently developed Camino de Invierno (winter camino route). Except it isn’t. Not the city centre, at least. The meeting point of the two Caminos is in A Laxe, a suburb of Lalin. It’s about 4km up the road from here.
As you know from my last update, I had a slow start from Cea. I left the town shortly after 10:30am. The women wearing skirts over mompe, and the old men who spoke to me during the day were all complaining about the cold. It was cloudy and the temperature barely reached 8 Celsius before dropping to around 4 at sunset, but I was pretty comfortable in my new hiking trousers and a long sleeved top, with a woolly hat and gloves. The new footwear also performed well all day. I didn’t change out of them until dinner time at a Emiliano’s restaurant. From there I walked the last 50m to the albergue in my old boots. They have been very mean to me today – working their way out of the knots that I tied, like a baby who has found a way to climb out of his cot. The right boot managed to hit the cuts that the convertible trousers inflicted on the back of my knee. I tied them down with some proper sailing knots that they couldn’t undo, so they kicked my straw hat around instead. A passing motorist stopped to tell me that it had fled from its position on my back.
From the start, I had a vague plan to walk to Castro Dozon and then to see if I still had time and strength to go further. Uwe had warned me that there was nowhere to eat out in Castro – it didn’t sound much good. When I got there, I found things as he described them. The bars don’t operate their restaurants out of season. The next albergue after Dozon is A Laxe but it seemed like a stretch at 19km.
And here is where i messed up – I was convinced that I would be able to stop at Lalin; convinced that Lalin was en-route to A Laxe on the Camino Sanabres. In developing this erroneous belief, I am guilty of selectively believing a paper print-out that showed a misleading map; and disregarding the fact that other Camino Sanabres guides didn’t mention Lalin. I preferred the evidence that allowed me to believe what I wanted to be true. I rationalised the discrepancies by telling myself that the other guides have let me down before, and that the Lalin albergue was only established in the summer of this year. I had seen the Lalin Albergue’s brochures at the albergue in Cea, and there was that other piece of paper with a map that showed a line through Lalin…
I called the Lalin Centro albergue when I left Dozon, and told them to expect me at 6pm.
The truth has a funny way of not bending to our flawed assumptions. It finally dawned on me as I walked into a dark wood after nightfall and checked my app, which showed that I had been walking away from Lalin for some time, while following the yellow arrows of the Camino Sanabres.
The happy news, though, is that I found a wonderful albergue with a really kind hospitalero. When I called Emilio after dark, to let him know that I was still on my way, he offered to drop everything to come and fetch me. I declined. I wanted to “walk the distance.” I’ve ridden buses and taken taxis for side-trips during this Camino but never for the journey itself. Besides, the walk gave me a chance to learn about Lalin. I followed a group of teenagers in sports gear into town, watched people stream out of the church after mass, and tried to make sense of the architecture in the dark. It seems like a town built mostly in the 1960s or 70s. Rows of identical blocks of flats lead to a town centre with covered shopping arcades that seem somewhat dated, but vibrant. The albergue is above one covered arcade with a good fruit shop just across the way. I hope it’s open early tomorrow morning.
Once I was within a couple of blocks of the albergue, I called Emiliano again and he came on foot, to meet me at the bottom of the street by the church. He had a bowl of bacon and bean pottage for me when we reached his bar. I stayed for some pizza and dough balls filled with cheese, ham, chorizo, ham and cheese, and chocolate. Then he took me to the albergue, which is the best equipped of any that I have experienced – Washing machine, dryer, beautiful showers with a fan heater in the bathroom, nespresso machine in the kitchen. All pristine.
It means that I’ll miss 4km or so of the Sanabres. I never expected to walk the Camino de Invierno, but tomorrow, I will follow it for 4km to A Laxe, where it meets the Camino Sanabres. This seems like a better idea than walking the other two sides of an equilateral triangle (4km back to the spot where I abandoned the Sanabres this evening, and then 4km to A Laxe). I suppose I could take a taxi back to the spot where I could rejoin the Sanabres, but I think I’d quite like to walk a few km of Invierno. Why not?
If I keep up a good pace, I should be able to reach Ponte Ulla, the halfway point between here and Santiago. Uwe is also aiming for that albergue, so we might complete our Caminos together. No promises.

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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