It seems that the Tango world is becoming more and more about politics. Everybody is travelling to events just to promote their own. I suppose in some ways we do much the same, we promote wherever we can. That is the nature of the beast.
The problems come when we stop travelling, just because we have already exhausted that pool, and no more promotion is necessary there. This is to forget why we tango in the first place. Surely we tango because we love the music, the embrace, and the sheer joy of moving as one body.
At our recent Milonga the numbers were down. Fortunately not to a disastrous level, but there were noticeably fewer. This was despite attracting some new dancers from a recent event I DJ’d. We more than paid for the hall, and all the food, and everyone enjoyed themselves, but it was a shame that so many old faces were not there.
We will, of course, continue to travel to tango events whenever we can. We will promote our few events, but the two are not mutually exclusive. We promote events for the love of it and we travel because we love to tango. Our events will continue even if the numbers drop further, simply because we are not there to make money.
We have one more Milonga on 1st November, a last chance to come and enjoy Bob’s music and the wonderful ambience of Pulford Village Hall, before we head off to Tango heaven again in Buenos Aires.
Talking of DJ work, it seems that I was wanted again, but the organizer did not want to speak to me. That is a shame, as no one is authorised to act as my agent. Tangogales and Gresford Tango are exclusively Bob and Vivien Finch. This is how it stays. If anyone wants to use our name or to attend one of our events, be sure that it is we to whom you speak. Only in this way can you be sure of exactly what you get.
It seems that the Tango world is becoming more and more about politics. Everybody is travelling to events just to promote their own. I suppose in some ways we do much the same, we promote wherever we can. That is the nature of the beast.
It seems that there is not a lot of time for blogging these days. You would think retirement would give me more time to write, but that is not the case.
It does, however give me more time for Tango. We now have a beginners course up and running at The Gwersyllt resource centre on a Tuesday evening. The Monday Practicas are now on their longest unbroken run. Unfortunately they will have to stop for the winter, as we will be in Buenos Aires enjoying some summer heat in our winter.
Been getting some DJing in as well. It is always nice to be asked, even nicer when it pays, although I do it for the pleasure and gladly do it for nothing when it is a charity do.
We also have two milongas coming up in Pulford, first Saturdays in October and November. Everyone is welcome, of course, including a few non tango dancers who want to come just for the craic and to listen to the music.
Then we are attending many more local events, including the whole weekend with tango Stafford.
So if you are in our area, or you see us round and about, call in or just say hello, we really are a friendly lot.
Tango Gresford goes from strength to strength, our practicas are the most friendly place to tango you can find. The classes are warm and welcoming (in a fantastic venue) and I guess that all this means; Tango Bob is no longer frustrated.
In Finisterre we had the time of the bus wrong, during all this time we keep forgetting what day it is. The bus on saturday is either 8:45 or 13:55.So we had missed the early one, and we were far too early for the later one, still, it gave us some time to just mooch around.
We bumped into the nice Canadian girl who was always ahead of her group. She must have carried on from Santiago without stopping, because she had been here six days. Each to their own, I suppose, but I enjoyed the places we stopped at much more, and would have felt it a waste to stay here that long.. After all that walking I think six days in one spot would bore me. It was really nice to see a familiar face though.
I managed to get a camino tile for our house, and then we convinced the girl in the shop that she had the wrong ear rings on one card. So she sorted them before Viv bought a pair.
We arrived for the bus early, I just did not trust the Spanish timetables. Daft really, as when we had used the AVE years ago, that was bang on time, as was our bus now.
We shared the bus with one other girl and she got off at Cee. Leaving Cee we saw Tammy for the first time in weeks. She saw us on the bus and we both waved frantically as we sped past. She will. most probably, be the last fellow pilgrim we will see.
Later the bus did fill, but it never reached capacity.
In A Coruna there was a really helpful guy who got us on a bus that night. The problem was, we had to wait 3 hours and we did not arrive in Santander until 3:30 in the morning.
They closed the bus station as we arrived so we had hours wandering Santander in the dark. In the end though, getting home was not too difficult.
We could not get to Poole and had to arrive in Portsmouth, but again helpful staff in the station there helped us on our way.
I have nothing good to say about British hotels though. Two tired pilgrims, we felt as if we had been taken advantage of as the first hotel that was not fully booked charged us an exorbitant rate for one night. Then there was a charge for the internet (so we did not use it) likewise a charge for the TV. We were stuck, what else could we do? After a walk back into town for an indian we walked down to the beach to find a Premier Inn not 200 yards away.
So what advice would I pass on?
Know your capabilities, we saw so many who injured themselves, thinking that they could do more than they were capable of.
In the same vein, do not over plan. Rest when you need it and if you cannot make a destination stop earlier.
Factor in rest days, not only a chance to recover but also allows you to see some more of the place. We chose ours to match the big cities, but you can choose to rest wherever it suits you best.
Take a lot less with you than you think you need. We saw people carrying bed rolls as well as sleeping bags. If we were to ever do this again I would only take our silk liners. I know we stayed mainly in Hostels, but those albergues we stayed in all had matresses, pillows and blankets.
Carpe dieum, Seize the day. Remember you will not pass this way again, if there is something you want to see, see it. If you see something you need, then buy it. Most importantly, never pass up a rest break. This may be the last bench or coffee shop for 10 kilometres.
Finally, be honest, I never saw anyone put down because they had to take a taxi. If you do it and tell everyone you walked, then probably you will be ostracised. Everyone
does their own camino and everyone understands that we all have different needs.
Cee to Finisterre
It is always difficult making sure everything is well packed and ready to go. That was why I so hated albergues, because usually we had to do it in the dark. This morning the lights fused, so we were back to packing in the dark. Fortunately we did not have too far to go so we were not in such a hurry to leave. We left the bags in the room and went down for breakfast. By the time we left at 7:30 it was getting quite light.
We had already explored Corcubion so we knew the way out. We decided to walk on the other side of the road and then noticed an arrow we had not seen before. We followed what turned out to be a medeval route out. This gave us a whole new perspective on the place, showing us things we had not yet seen.
We passed the church of Saint Martin, but then the arrows dried up. A guy in his front garden pointed us in the right direction. Further round the block an old woman stood on her doorstep pointing. A can of yellow paint would put all these locals out of a job.
The arrows got better though, and they sent us up a narrow alleyway that took us up behind the houses. Then we were climbing again, up through woodlands ever higher.
When we thought we should be coming to the next village, we saw a sign that said Cee. For a while there we worried we had come in a circle, but that was not possible. It looks like Cee just circles Corcubion and soon we arrived at Estorde.
Again it looked like there was little here, but we rounded the bend and there was beautiful beach with a hotel on it. We stopped for a zumo and paid a premium for a beach view.
As we left, I am sure that alsation was following us again. He had followed us all around Cee, I have no idea how he found us there after we were lost for so long. I swear that dog will turn up in Gesford one day.
We followed the road for a while and then came across another beach with a long footpath running behind it. We stopped for an orange and some water, before carrying on again.
We were still early as we entered Finisterre and were surprised to find the first Hostel full. We passed an albergue and there sat in the window were the German gang we had met in Hospital, who had followed us down to Cee.
We found a Hotel that looked ok and they had plenty of rooms. I was again surprised that they gave us the key straight away. Usually we have to wait until one o’clock or at least mid day.
We had a coffee dropped all our gear in the room and set off for Cape Finisterre. I had trouble stopping Viv going in the supermarkets, but there would be time when we came back.
We took a detour on the way up through some rough ground, but when you have come this far nothing daunts you.
Well we finally reached the end of the earth, you can go no further west in Europe without getting wet.
Cape Finisterre was a dissapointment. We got a final stamp, but otherwise it was like John O’Groats, just a big souvenier shop. There was a coach from Bogna Regis, if you think I am grumpy, you should have met the first man off the bus. “Are you on the bus?” I asked, all I got in return was a very sour “No thank you” Not put off I tried again and we met a very nice group who took our photos for us. About time we had some of the two of us together.
2.5e to go round the lighthouse, but you could not go up to the light. We did not see the point, so declined.
We climbed up the rocks and took some photos. The view from here was amazing, we could see the storm lashed rocks below us, seaguls were flying over our heads and a lone fishing boat sailed across the sound. We met a canadian lady called Margaret and an Austrian guy called Cyril. Cyril had done the Portugese route to test himself. he said he was a tour guide and had got some good ideas from Spain. One good idea he should definitely ignore is to put an attraction at the top of a hill, encourage walkers, then sell nothing but concrete shells and fragile boats. We would have loved to stay longer but were in serious need of sustenance and you cannot eat flags and pin badges.
It is surprising how fast you can get down a hill when you are hungry and soon we were in the town itself. There was a market, but that was all closing up. We found a supermarket that closed ten minutes ago. I did not care, the door was open so we walked in anyway. We managed to get some biscuits and yogurt, but being a supermarket they did not supply spoons and ours were back at the hotel. So we had a treck back and ate them in the room.
It was time to try and find our way out of here. We had intended to walk to Muxia, but realised that Finisterre was an end, we have done enough, and so this was going to be where we finally stop walking.
We found the travel agents for pilgrims, and wouldn’t you know it? this is Spain. Five past two and it is shut for siesta. Only thing to do is go for another beer. Before we went we asked in the shop next door what time it would be open “five or six” was the answer, how the hell can they run a business like this?
We had our beer, then went somewhere else. Viv liked the look of the menue here. It was now five so we checked the travel agents first. Of course it was shut.
We went back for the menue. We both started with salad, Viv had pasta, and I had an olympic sized pizza. We were stuffed when we had finished, but you have to have the ice cream, don’t you?
Now full to bursting we went back to the travel agents, still closed. We walked over to the bus stop and asked a big guy where he got his ticket “On the bus” he said. He also showed us the timetable.
So tomorrow we will have breakfast in the Hotel. Then at 11:10 we will catch the bus to A Corona and the travel agent will get no commision out of me.
Now we are having more Galician rain, that will put paid to the festivities. Looks like another early night.
Olveiroa to Cee
The lady of the house drove us back to Olveiro and dropped us off out side the bar. Time to grab a coffee while we can.
The road out of Olveiroa was paved with what I think were granite slabs about two metres by a half. They were also used as fences and for the side of buildings. I think it must be some sort of traditional quarry method.
We turned left and a group of Italians joined us. We decided to follow them in the hope that we would not get lost again. They proved to be good company. There was the tall guy who was always ahead and a good spotter for the best scenery. Then there was the shorter guy who was trying to learn English and the girl who acted as translator. The shorter guy also had a GPS so we knew we were on the right road and how far we had come.
They kept us entertained as well as on the right road until we reached another place called Hospital. (Starting to think there must be a lot of sick people here).
We stopped for a stamp, but the woman there was insistant that there was nothing more for 15K, so we had a zumo before moving on.
Just up the road from here the road splits for Finisterre and Muxia, our new friends were heading for Muxia. We took their photos and said goodbye. I suppose this sums up the Camino; good friends for a short while, short goodbyes, never to meet again.
The cellist passed us while we were in the bar and I thought for a while we would catch him up as he was now walking with his father. Every time we nearly caught him something happened.
First, we were approaching a cross and a group of men wanted their photos taken. We had him in sight again and then passed a donativo where Viv wanted some fruit.
Nearly had him again, and we had to stop at Santuario de Nosa Senora das Neves for a rest and a drink. It was lovely spot to rest, but no facilities, I could not imagine staying at this place overnight.
It was a rocky road from here on, I found it difficult on my knees and ankles, but the views were stunning. The film crew, it seems, thought so too, as we got our first good views of the sea we saw them filming the view and the pilgrims passing by. So we got in their film again.
We arrived in the back of the town, it was still early so we stopped and had a beer and shared a bocadillo. After this we walked passed the beach and across the road. It looked like we had passed anywhere that might have had hostels, but there in front of us was a new place.
The old lady who ran it was really helpful, she showed us a room where we could help ourselves to coffee at any time, biscuits and even cake. We had a lovely double bed and a superb bathroom.
We left everything there and went off to explore. First thing for me to do was sooth my tired feet in the sea. It was not the best beach but it was a cold sea water and I loved it. Viv hates beaches and sand in her toes, but it was all I was waiting for.
We walked inland and bought an ice cream. As we ate them we met and Irishman named Dick, who spends months here every year and has bought an appartment. I think it was at this point I thought “Why spend two days in Finisterre’ when we may not even like it. We were tired after getting lost the day before, so I decided to stay another night here.
We found a great place to eat, walked into Corcubion and even, finally, got Viv a new swimsuit.
So by the time we left we were well rested, re-stocked on medicines and had bought everything we needed.
Negreira to Olveiroa
It was always going to be a tough day, 33K is not to be sniffed at, but with a shortage of stopping points we had little choice.
Never the less we set off in good spirits as we followed the road for a short while and then set off into woodlands. As we started climbing we saw the film crew that was following the cellist, they were filming the pilgrims as they climbed the hill. Viv tried to avoid getting in their picture, but I realised what they were doing and just carried on. As we passed the camera we were asked to sign a release to say it was ok to film us.
We followed the road for a while. Then we passed acouple with a big fierce looking alsation only the alsation now decided he was ours. Viv was quite concerned as it wandered about the road. He stayed with us though. As we turned off the road we saw two men by a car “es tu pero?”‘I asked,no was the reply,but they called the dog anyway. I think the dog cursed us.
The yellow arrows were getting more scarce, but at first, this was not a problem. When we had been walking for half an hour without a sighting we started to worry. It was time to get out my trusty compass. Little did we know that we were already too far off to regain it this way.
After another hour or so we finally saw an arrow, relieved we followed it. After about another half hour we reached a road. As we approached, a taxi drived stopped and said this was not the camino. He kept telling us we should go back to Negreira and that the road was too far. He could give us nothing in simple language so we elected to continue along the road.
We walked for hours and eventually arrived at a bar. Time for a coffee, the barman was really good, he said walk 3K and turn left then bear right and we will see an albergue, then we will be back on the camino.
Now 3K is about half an hour and true enough at almost half an hour there was a turning and it was in a village with a name that made sense of what he was saying. (He drew a square on the map and said something that I did not understand, now I did).
We took the turning, but now there were numerous other turns, unsure what to do we followed his advice and beared right. Over a cross road, things were looking good, until we arrived back on the mainroad we had already been following.
We asked so many people “Camino Finisterre?” and always got the same answer “si siga todo recto” (year one Spanish, go straight on”). So we did. For hours.
Then we asked someone else, he told us to go over the next roundabout and ask. So we did, but there was no one to ask. Many may be asking now “what about your map?” well camino maps are fine while you are on the camino, they are totally meaningless when you are off it. In fact most of the towns that are on the map do not exist as far as road signs are concerned.
We trudged on to a place called Antes and there was a garage “tienes Mapa?” I asked more in hope than expectation. “Si” he said. so now we had a road map of Galicia, only slightly more use than the camino map, but at least we knew where we were.
I decided to head off to the left, but the men in the bar insisted we should carry on this road. Now there is a big lake, big enough to show even on the Camino map and if we carried on we would be the wrong side of it. We walked about a kilometer and decided to walk back.
The men from the bar were off in their cars so we passed them by and took the next turning. I was now following the compass, all we had to do was head west from here.
That was ok until the road took a turn. In the middle of a village called Pazos a big articulated lorry stopped, caused a traffic jam and told us we should head back. I was getting less and less sure that anyone in Spain knew where they were going, but for the sake of Viv we went back. But again we came to a junction, so I followed the compass.
It was now mid afternoon and not a sign of Camino or any signs, so we stopped in a bus shelter had some water and nuts and turned the data on on my phone. (I know, I should have done this earlier, but it has become so unreliable, I trust it less than a Spaniard).
My only hope was to head south for Santa Marino, Olveiroa was 3.5 hours away.
We followed, got lost again and eventually passed some men working on a house. My instinct was to go right here but they all said straight up.
I should have learned by now, but up we went. Then after who knows how long, someone stopped in a car and said “Santa Marino straight on through the next village”. So at the next village, instead of following the road we went through the village, until after a couple of Ks we ended up in a ploughed field. So we walked back through the village and followed the road.
Now we seemed to have lots of people telling us to go straight on, but we reached a point of utter despair. No sign of any civilisation, totally and utterly lost.
At this point I decided to turn around, then a wagon came. Half a K up the road he said was the camino. “if you turn left you can get to Santa Marino, but it is 4K back, you are best turning right” he said. True to his word, when we got to the next junction we saw arrows at last.
We had been walking now over ten hours, but now at least we knew we were going the right way. I was at this point completely exhausted and decided to just sit on a rock.
We saw three people come over the hill,”quick lets follow them” I think we both said in unison. They too had been on the road all day, the difference was they were stopping to film, they were the film crew again.
We walked together for a few Ks, it helped to have company at last, as well as knowing we were on the right track. What I did not realise was how far we had now come. I asked how far was Bon Xesus and they told me we were much further than that.
They had to get to Olveiroa as the cellist had a concert at seven and it was now approaching half six. So after a call, they backtracked to get picked up.
We, however, still had to walk. Not far around the bend we came across Abeleiros. Overjoyed, we really had come further than we thought and we were going to make Olveiroas afterall.
Much to my consternation there was more downhill, but hope does wonderful things, my knee seemed to be holding out. So much so that when we saw the albergue at Puente Olveiros I said ” lets have a beer here and carry on to the town”.
So, after a beer and some crisps we walked on hoping we would not regret the decision. At the first hostel, I got a very abrupt “no” so we tried the next and on right through the town. Not a room to be had. So we tried the albergue, no beds either.
There were some Germans in the same situation and we told them about the donativo albergue at the bridge. We, however were not about to walk another 2K especially back the way we had just come. This is what happens when you arrive at seven thirty. The girl fromthe film crew said “the concert is still on you can go in” but we needed to find a bed first.
We went back to the last hostel in the village and decided, before we could do anything more we needed a rest and some food.
We ordered the pilgrim menue and some beer. Now, it has been said to us before, that everyone here knows someone with beds. The hostel owner said “If you want a private room I kow someone, but it is 10K away. They can pick you up and drop you back here in the morning. It was 45e, but then we were desperate.
It is a strange feeling after nearly 7 weeks to get in a car again, to be moving along not under your own power, but we were so tired, after 12 hours walking I would not have noticed if they had used a Starfleet transporter.
What we had was not a room with a bathroom, but in fact a house. The lady of the house presented us with a plate of cake, Viv, being Viv tried to refuse, but I thought it would be rude, so graciously accepted. We could always take it with us in the morning.
We showered and I don’t remember my head hitting the pillow.
Santiago to Negreira
I will save our three days in Santiago for a later date as I am getting behind with my story.
We followed the road that rings the old quarter. There seemed little point in going through the centre again.
When we reached the junction to the road going out we saw a bar open and decided it would be best to get our coffee fix while we could.
Inside we ordered our coffee and spoke to the two ladies sat there. One was from the US and the other from Holland. They intended to make Finisterre in three days. I said as we left “we will see you when you pass us” we intended to take four days so it was bound to happen.
After we had passed the dance school (where we failed to find tango a day earlier) there was a junction. We took one side of the road, the two ladies the other. Their side was quicker “Ididn’t expect you to pass us that quickly” I said, as they passed us.
We descended out of Santiago and then we climbed again. At the top of the hill we had a wondeful last view of the Cathedral peeking out of the fog.
We were now a group of five; the two ladies we had met in the bar, Viv and I, and another girl, who we kept meeting all day, but found out nothing about her.
We did a lot of up and down but there were no rest places until Roxos, 8K in. We had coffee and a stamp and then carried on.
There was now 2.5k of tough uphill. It was relentless, we passed no end of pilgrims who simply had to stop for a rest, and when we stopped, those who managed to pass us also rested soon after. The solo girl we knew nothing about was resting on the hill. The group of chattering French women we thought we had lost were also there, all walkers needed to rest.
It was fairly easy downhill after this and uneventful until we got to Negreira. The first thing we saw was a beautiful roundabout with a concrete statue of a woman and two cows, on top of a water feature. The next thing we saw was a rather plump, short woman charging across the road at us “albergue aqui” she said pointing at her albergue. “Hostel” we said and carried on. She meanwhile charged off to the next pilgrim.
We found a hostel, we thought it rather expensive and declined the breakfast, but the room was beautiful, though a little short on hot water.
After we had showered and rested the rain came, proper Galician rain, thunder, lightening and a downpour like standing under a waterfall. We would not be going anywhere for a while.
When it did ease up we still had to dodge between the shops. Viv nearly got a swimsuit, but it was not to be. We got some provisions for tomorrow at the supermarket and we observed the short plum woman still chasing pilgrims.
We found a bar run by an Englishman and his Galician wife, and had one of the best pilgrim menues yet. Then off to bed ready for a big day tomorrow..