Leaving Rubiaes, we are on the downward course to Tui. Naively we think we are in for an easy day. It is one of those mystical magical mornings with mist rising and swirling through the valleys and over the farmers fields. It is cool and fresh and we are so glad not to be facing the uphill scrabble of the scree covered paths of yesterday. Another lesson in enjoying the moment because you do not know what is coming next.
As we continue the descent, there are lovely paths through enchanted forests and remarkable old walls built without mortar. Then it begins. Now we are not only contending with the same kind of scree covered ruts, but we are slip sliding our way down some unpleasant runs. I won’t rub in the details, but there were moments when the fatigue from yesterday caught up and doubled the weariness today. Not nearly as long and hard, but more than enough to be discouraging.
For the first time, I find myself wishing I could quit. Who would care if you quit says the little voice. A second’s thought an the answer is clear. I would. Without wanting to be too melodramatic, my thoughts turned to Jesus on the Via Doloroso. He had no choice about walking that weary road. I do. He was scourged and bleeding. I am only exhausted. He was walking to certain death. I am walking to an encounter with life. Surely this is part of what the Camino is about…..facing our physical and emotional limits in company with the Christ who calls us to do more that we think we can. It also humbles me to think of all those in the world who have to walk dreadful paths through no choice of their own, and with no assurance that it will get better.
The final stretch is through another ‘Hansel and Gretel’ forest path, opening on a beautiful vista of Valenca in the distance. Continuing down we Catch up with a young Polish woman who was also at the last Albergue. Carolina joined us and at another little bridge we run into a young German couple we had met last night. A stop for lunch and we continue the trek. In Valenca we make a small wrong turn but the director at the fort set us straight and we were shortly crossing the bridge into Spain. It is a double decker built before WWI with cars and pedestrians on the lower level and trains above.
The final kick in the butt comes as we realize the Albergue is at the summit of the hill on which the Cathedral sits. We struggle up the twisting road switch backs till we enter the square in front of the stolid looking grey building rising out of the stone. We find our way around the back to the sleeping quarters where a somewhat stern lady tells us we MUST be in by 22:00 because that is when she locks the door. There is no mistaking that if you are late you are out! We are also told in no uncertain terms that we must be OUT by 8:00 and NO FOOD IN THE BUILDING! After the routine shower and laundry process, I try to get on wifi at the Tapas bar in the cathedral square but can’t connect there or any of the other places I try. So the blog for today is one day late. Sorry about that! Good chicken dinner at a local restaurant and into bed early for the first full night sleep since we arrived in Lisboa. Maybe jet lag is finally over.