We were at the edge of Negreira at 7:45am, about to head into the woods, and it was still dark. Two other pilgrims, a tall Australian and a short little Chilean woman, had stopped ahead of us to read a sign. Peggi turned the flashlight of her phone on and the other two followed our torch down the path. They were talking behind us, introducing themselves, and the Australian started singing “The Teddy Bear Picnic,” a minor key children’s song, and something that was a favorite of my father’s. I helped embed the song as the intro to his presentation on Edmunds Woods. The Australian told us his parents organized a Teddy Bear Picnic for him and his friends when he was a kid.
While he was talking and we were listening we walked by a turn we should have taken. We were still on a similar path but there were no yellow arrows at the junctures. After three turns we all stopped and debated what to do. This was to be a twenty one mile day and we had already traveled a mile without a sign. When you’re in a hole you should stop digging so we backtracked. The sun came up and we found where we had gone wrong.
We stopped for a cup of coffee after 10 or 11 kilometers, a quaint little place, with a shelf full of art books. I pulled one out with photos from the 1950’s by Virxilio Vieitez, a Galician whose portraits looked a bit like August Sanders or Diane Arbus.
We were enjoying our second coffee after twenty kilometers or so when a guy came in the café and groaned, “The road, too long.” He lifted his feet like they were beat and I knew exactly what he meant. Unlike most of the Camino there was a lot of pavement involved today and the bottoms of my feet felt like they were bruised.
It takes a long time to walk twenty two miles especially when there are big hills or small mountains involved. We started before eight and didn’t reach our destination until five and we hardly stopped at all. We walked around Irondequoit Bay in preparation for this but that was a piece of cake. When we were filling out the paperwork to receive our certificate (called the Compostela) in Santiago we had to enter our age in one of the columns. We have seen plenty of people our age on the Camino but as I scanned the list of the entries on the A4 page, they were all younger. Maybe that’s why my boney feet hurt so much.