Day 20 – Ponte de Lima to Rubiães – 11.8mi/19km
Exhausted from 3 gruelingly long days, we learned today would be EVEN hotter than yesterday, but mercifully shorter. The only catch was we’d have a fairly steep 350m (over 1100’) climb over a ridge. At the same time, I was worried about my ability to handle it as I’ve had some mild glute muscle and tendon tightness for a couple days now.
But all the stretching I’ve been doing paid off as the climb was steep but I felt strong and loose, even passing all those folks from before, blasting ahead of everyone around me! After several days of rough struggle, this was a much-needed victory and morale boost! Climbs are tough but they get the blood, breath, and adrenaline flowing. Getting to the top of a steep climb is exhilarating, as long as you’re not hurt.
The rest of the day was a very hot but gentle descent down through several villages, with a few nice stops, until we reached the municipal albergue of Rubiães at the early hour of 2pm! What to do with all that spare time?!? There was a real Camino vibe as the 40+ pilgrims here systematically showered, washed clothes, tended to their wounds and blisters, sat in the albergue courtyard or the nearby cafe/minimarket next door to have a drink, and then cooked their respective dinners. We combined resources and made shakshuka (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakshouka), which turned out great even if I had to improvise with the spices a bit! It was a nice end to a nice day, and it looks like this trek isn’t all bad after all!
Dorm last night was way too hot so didn’t get a lot of sleep. Fans and air conditioning are very rare here so if the weather doesn’t cooperate, things get toasty.
It’s always downest before the climb
Early part of the day was very pleasant along forest and cobblestone paths but it began to get hot before 9.
There was a 190 meter climb today which started gently but then took a steep turn up.
At first it was fairly easy but then I found my legs tiring faster than normal. Hopefully it was just because of lack of sleep and being sick.
There amount of sweat I rung out of my shirt at the top impressive.
We’ve met a new group of people along the way so it’s been nice to have some new conversations!
This central route feels closer to a traditional Camino where there is a group of people you see throughout the day and slowly get to know.
Today was relatively short and we arrived at 1. Compared to arriving at 5:30 yesterday.
That left a lot of time to hang out with the fellow walkers and cool a huge meal for dinner.
Watching the sunset bend the mountains was really nice.
Today was one of the best days yet with physical tests, cafe stops and socializing.