Two New Hampshire girls hike the 500-mile Camino de Santiago to raise money for women around the world.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Day Thirty-Nine: Melide to A Rua. April 20, 2013

Distance: 31.6 kilometers (19.62 miles) with about 200 meters (600 feet) of elevation gain

Morning, while the girls sleep...

Two more days of hiking and we reach Santiago. Ten-year-old Alex and eight-year-old Sage were well prepared to walk these five hundred miles; when you grow up climbing NH's White Mountains every week, any trail in the world is potentially do-able. The girls have had a wonderful time and I, their mother, have been honored to accompany them every step of The Way.

Outside of a woman and her nine-year-old daughter who hiked the PCT last year, the girls and I continue to be the only young daughters-mother hiking team out there in the news and blogosphere (please do post links and correct me if I'm wrong - I hope there are others!)

We need more women leading/guiding their daughters! Yes, it's nice to see girls out there with their dads, but we still live in a society where men are expected to lead the families/ children on adventures. I can't tell you the number of times strangers have expressed surprise -- here on the Camino and in the Whites - that a mother - as opposed to the father - is taking her girls (and not boys) out there into the wilderness (or into the unknown). Such folks unintentionally relate the patriarchal attitude that still very much exists in most of the world. The only way to change this attitude is for mothers to get out there with their young girls.

More on that after we reach Santiago. By the way, Santiago will not be the end of our journey - the girls have decided they want to continue to Finisterre, the traditional pagan end of this route and what was once considered the end of the earth. Hugh has to fly back to the States the morning of the 22nd, but the girls and I will continue onward after two days of rest in Santiago. It should take us about four days to reach the ocean from the city. We'll spend a day there on the beach, then we'll bus back to Santiago and fly to Boston. We should be back in New Hampshire on the first day of May.

Glad to hear neither one of the Boston bombers are still at large.

We had cool breezes with bright sunshine today - another great morning and afternoon of walking. We made good time, though I am glad this was our last day of heavy-duty mileage. Sage looks tired and my right leg and toe are killing me...12-14 miles a day makes us happy, and we've now cranked out four consecutive 17-19 mile days. Tomorrow we only have to hike 13 miles before reaching Santiago.

Lots of country, old towns, stone walls...and trees (!) again today.

By the way, the Brierley guide is less than 100 percent accurate. There are significant hills that are not shown on the maps in stages 31 and 32.

Leaving Melide...

We had planned on getting breakfast in the next town west, about three miles from Melide. Happily, we found this food stand not too long after setting out...

Breakfast cake, fruit, and coffee left out for pilgrims. Prices were on tags and a cash box was displayed. A sign explained that this was the true spirit of the 

I bought strawberries and breakfast cake; we ate on a wooden bench in the shade. It was a lovely way to start our morning.

Onward, to and through a zillion tiny towns, along some pretty paths, and by some beautiful little flowers...

We passed the 20 kilometers to go mark, entered the outskirts of O Pedrouzo, and saw a cool information kiosk with a recording that welcomes peregrinos in multiple languages.

After that, we went through some trees and into A Rua, just east of O Pedrouzo.

We have stayed in every kind of accommodation on this trip - public albergues, private albergues, hostels, hotels, a Parador, donativo albergues, pensions...and now we're staying at a casa rural. Casa rurals are upscale B&Bs..they're the most expensive option out there (even Paradors can be cheap if you stay in them during the off-season). That being said, this particular casa rural, O Acivro, is ninety Euros for an apartment that could easily sleep eight people. So the moral of the story continues to be - save up and team up if you want a change from the albergues. There's a lot of space here...the average peregrina can afford this if she shares it with her friends or Camino family.

One more day. Though, sadly, it feels like our Camino has already ended. All our European friends have gone ahead or stayed behind and we're now stuck in a crowd of wealthy Americans. That's fine, but our Camino now has a much different feel to it. Instead of having an international experience, we're constantly among vacationing retirees. I miss Lena, Franco, and the Korean couple, and I wonder if they've all reached Santiago or if they're just half a day behind us. I wonder about the nice Australian couple, Howard and Sue, and I hope we see them again. I think of Flo, who must be back in Switzerland by now. I think of Rosa and Ilfonso, and of how much we enjoyed our time with them. I remember Rilie and Becky and Julio.

Must go to bed soon. My right leg is throbbing and the major knuckle of my big toe is in serious pain. Very glad we've only got thirteen miles left. Also very glad the girls and I will take two days off before heading to the ocean.

'Til tomorrow...hope to write from Santiago.

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Location:A RĂșa,Spain


Ildefonso said...

Looking for your posts every day. Reading its is like we were hiking el Camino with the family Herr anyway. We hope you´ll have a day tomorrow to remember for all your lifetime. We´ll keep reading daily your new blogs because all of you will be part of our best memories of our Camino de Santiago. GO GIRLS,GO. Buen Camino.

Ildefonso y Rosa

Geoff said...

Found blog/started reading a few weeks ago, now follow your progress every day and continue to be amazed; you gals rock!
My brother-in-law starts at SJPdePort on Monday and I've told him to use your experiences as a guide.
Health precludes me from ever doing the Camino but I feel I've "almost" done so thru you. Thanks, Buen Camino, good luck, you're almost there.

Jennifer Johnson said...

I've enjoyed following all your posts! What you say is true about moms getting out with girls into the wilderness or for adventures. There are other moms who take their kids out, but most of the ones I know aren't as famous as you! There was a mom last year who hiked the PCT with her 7-year-old son. (Sparrow and the Barracuda - they have a blog.) There are some other mom and nature blogs I follow occasionally, too. Most of the ones I can think of have both boys and girls. I've been hiking with my children since they were babies. We don't do as long or strenuous of hikes as you do, but we get out more than most other moms and kids we know. It's been good for my boy to be out in nature, but it's been good for my girl for other reasons. She is naturally more fearful, and it's really helped her confidence. She has vision problems, too, that she's had to overcome while hiking. Hiking has also been part of her therapy for that. I see the way my own childhood nature experiences shaped me, and I hope I can provide my daughter with similar experiences. I could say more about this topic, but it's perhaps best saved for my own blog post on my own blog! You are right that there is a different expectation - it's considered fine for a dad to take his children out into the wilderness alone, but it's suddenly a risky endeavor if a mom does the same trip without a man along. I'm like you, I try to be prepared to take care of problems should they arise, but I'm really tired of feeling like I can't or shouldn't be expected to do what I love with my kids just because my husband can't come along with us, or isn't interested at the time.

Frau Chappell said...

As a NH resident I started hiking with my kids in elementary school, but in 5th grade my daughter no longer wanted to go, so I didn't force her. My son and I finished the 4Kers before he graduated from HS. My daughter went mostly Re-enacting the Revolutionary War during weekend musters with her dad while I went hiking with my son. We never blogged, but there were and still are other Moms out there. My husband really doesn't like to hike, but I didn't let that stop me going out with the kids. If I ever have grandkids, I'll be out there with them!