For days I had been planning to meet Uta on the 26th of September in Santiago, which was the day of her scheduled arrival from Cape Town and before her departure for Finisterre – eighty kilometres west of Santiago. At the outset we had planned to meet on the 30th of September, after her return from Finisterre. As it transpired, I had walked much faster than I had thought possible when we planned the trip. My average stretch was about twenty five kilometres a day, a similar distance to that managed by most pilgrims, so I would be in Santiago on the same day or a day prior to her arrival from Cape Town; my plan was now to accompany her to Finisterre. Although one might want to walk alone, I did miss my wife during afternoons and evenings when exploring villages or towns. I was also missing our habitual search for a pleasant restaurant, rather than being content with the first place available. Alone I just kept it simple.
Grapes were ripe and on my way to Cacabelos many families were out harvesting. All family members were participating, including grannies and teenagers, boys and girls. When I asked for permission to taste, they replied with ‘si – si’ and when I showed them the beautifully shaped dark red bunch that I had cut from the bush, they laughed and everyone was happy. I later picked two more bunches, this time, I must confess, without permission. The grapes were perfectly ripe and juicy and I just ripped them off the stalks with my teeth in a rather cannibalistic way.
As evening approached, I saw two pilgrims with three donkeys. Luggage was strapped onto one donkey, leaving the other two for riding: it looked wonderful, no carrying of backpacks. However, walking in a larger and mixed family like this also has its complications: the donkeys wanted to graze and the pilgrims wanted to continue the trip – the donkeys won.
The sun was setting in Cacabelos and with my washing still spinning in the tumble dryer, I was totally underdressed for the rising chill. The albergue was a bit out of town, so I had to find something to eat and get back pronto!