Day 18: O’Cebreiro, 29km

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 I woke up miraculously not sore. Or not any more stiff than usual, I suppose my body has finally adapted and is ready to take on harder days! So, while my schedule had me stopping today before the big climb I decided to go for the full 29km, 7 of which is up a very steep incline. The first 22km absolutely sailed by, I didn’t even take a break. I felt so surprisingly strong, I just wanted to keep walking. Now that I’m back on the main stages the amount of hikers has increased a lot, though it seems not terribly busy, I was rarely on a stretch without being able to see anyone. But I’m not concerned about it, I’m significantly faster than most hikers, so accommodations shouldn’t be a problem. Although, the multitudes of 100km hikers will join in Sarria, so we’ll see how that goes!


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 Speaking of speed, I chatted with a Dutch guy who remarked on my speed (I did the 29km in 6 hours), he laughs and tells me:
 “you’re so fast girl, you walk like a man!”
To which I responded, “I’m pretty sure I walk like a woman, given I am one.”
Him: “yeah, OK, you walk like a strong woman.”
Me: “so, a woman.”
Him:”yeah, yeah, ok.”
Clearly, on the Camino all guards come down and I feel no problem calling out random strangers on mild sexism. He was a good sport about it though, but I suppose I wouldn’t know, I left him behind pretty quickly.

 

  Most of the morning was relatively boring, as it was along the road. I took almost no pictures, and I’m sure the less than ideal views helped me speed through. 

I started the climb up around noon, it was tough, and a similar incline to the first day (though at the top, we were done!) but not terrible. It was hot and I’m glad I got as early of a start as I did (just before 8am). I’ve missed aerobic challenges, I’m almost never out of breath, and beta-endorphins are a rarity. So this challenge was exhilarating!

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 Of course everyone says what a brutal day this is, and if it were raining, as it often does, it would have been awful, and muddy. And while it was too warm, it could have been a lot worse. And I don’t think it was bad at all! It was a welcome challenge with absolutely stunning views over the valley we started in. I loved today. 

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 And to celebrate I booked a private room (with a bathroom!), for a staggering $40, and had my laundry done. After showering and laundry I wandered out to the viewpoint and watch pilgrims arriving, there are so many of them! Often in small groups or duos, and the occasional single hiker. 

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 Today, I feel like being alone. I’ve been feeling more like that recently, as an introvert the constant socializing can be a lot. And I love being able to dictate my own days and do whatever I please. It’s been great to experience different caminos, with a group, by myself, on and off the main stages, in €5 hostels, and private hotels, and small, communal alburgues. I feel like I’ve sampled so many types of caminos. All have their perks and downfalls. I’m both curious, and mildly concerned about what the last, busy, 100km looks like! Only six more days of hiking!

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