We said a tearful farewell to Michaela this morning. Overnight, she reached the difficult decision to quit the Camino for now. For the last couple of days, she had been in pain with every step, and she needs to rest. She’s going to spend a few days recuperating in Puebla de Sanabria and perhaps she’ll catch a bus to rejoin us from Ourense or another point on the way to Santiago.
Because of works for the AVE high speed railway that will pass through this region, the Camino has been diverted from its traditional route. Pilgrims must walk alongside the N-525 highway for the first five kilometres after Requejo to stay out of the way of the construction sites with their big, cement storage silos.
We decided to wait until daylight for this stage, the better to be seen by oncoming vehicles. Even so, it was a relief when left the highway and followed a twisting, disused, road around the massive pillars of the modern, elevated viaducts – channels for cars and trucks to fly over our heads.
At the top of the climb to Padornelo (around 1,300m altitude) we found a stone cross and a bench that offered us a place to stop for a snack. From there, the route was mostly downhill. Near perfect weather and a following wind gave us great conditions for walking, but more diversions put us on hard road surfaces with traffic passing nearby for several more kilometres. This makes for a tiring day.
In the last couple of kilometres before Lubian we were finally rewarded with some pleasant woodland trails, a picturesque valley with a babbling brook, and hanging branches of walnuts and apples – a lovely way to enter this beautiful, mountain village.
We spent some time exploring Lubian – the pretty church, the many fountains with untreated spring water, the busy, little supermarket, and the bars on the main road. We enjoyed a beer at Bar Estrella before heading back to the albergue for a bite to eat and a siesta.
The albergue in Lubian has improved since my visit in 2017. It still has a policy of not providing blankets, but it now has a super shower block at the back and a balcony with a clothes line on the upper floor. We can see in the registration book that our friends Ana, Santiago, and Umberto were here yesterday. A lot of pilgrims have arrived here this afternoon – a cyclist who came 100km from Tábara today, another Italian cyclist who has just arrived, and several pilgrims (from Switzerland and Spain) who walked from Puebla de Sanabria. If anyone else shows up, I think we’ll have a full house here.
We’re chatting with the cheerful hospitalera who is making sure that we are all properly registered and paid up (for the bargain price of €3). We each get a stamp in our credentials – except one unfortunate who claims that his was stolen at some earlier stop on the Camino.