Day 20 – Ribadesella to Villaviciosa

5/30/17 – 45km/28mi(!!!) from Ribadesella to Villaviciosa.

WOW – we just hiked¬†28 miles!! Some people’s trackers said 24, 26, but I’m sticking with my calculations. We set off at about 7:15am and got to where we were staying just around 6:45pm. 11 and a half hours on our feet! And the best part – it felt good! While I changed socks frequently because my feet were “running hot,” I felt strong at the end and even triumphantly jogged a couple hundred yards as we entered Villaviciosa. Today was my birthday, and I felt truly special receiving birthday wishes from our entire crew, all day long.

The day was great. It began with a beautiful exit from Ribadesella and through rolling hills until we had breakfast at La Tiendina de Vega in a village called, you guessed it, Vega. A couple houses on the town had great murals, and I continue to be impressed by all the artwork and small details that one might miss when just driving through places like this. There, we also met a huge group of Irish travelers – a few students and some of their relatives – on a university trip led by the college chaplain. He and his wife had always wanted to hike the Camino, but never found the time. Then in 2001 they suggested that, given its religious significance, it might be an interesting trip for students. So, they’ve gotten to do a 7-10 day Camino every year for the last 16 years – AND be paid for it! I gotta figure out a scheme like that. Anyway they learned it was my birthday and they all burst out into song, which was awesome!

A few hours later, after seaside hiking with beautiful views, we broke for lunch at a great beachfront bar right outside La Isla. But then came an endless stretch that brought our day from 12 to 28 miles. Whooo it was long! But one thing that’s absolutely amazing about the Camino, is you often discover strength you didn’t know you had. On the trail it’s boosts of physical strength that give you the juice you need to trudge onward a few miles more. Once you get home you realize just how much you can accomplish if you just commit and persevere. We often say “the Camino provides,” as you somehow find what you need at opportune moments. But the Camino surely strengthens also. And David and I felt that boost towards the end of the day. We high-fived each other as we arrived into Villaviciosa, proud of one massive accomplishment.

And of course, the crew took me out for a great birthday. We decided to call it a night after ending up at a bar where a very intoxicated local fellow¬†offered to bring us all to his home for an “after party.” “I promise, my wife won’t mind!” We diplomatically turned him down.

There was one highlight of the day that was as memorable as it was awful, and as the saying goes, it was “smelt before it was dealt.” We smelled what had to be manure or fertilizer but didn’t know where it was coming from. Shortly after, a truck whizzed past us, turned into an empty plowed field, and literally sprayed gallons of poop all over. What a scene!