Galicia, Day Five: Northern Exposure

The rest of race day was a whirlwind. We spent well over an hour mingling/recovering at the race site, where they had water, Powerade, apples and bananas. (Many folks complained about the lack of food. I was content with the fruit, but lack of food would be a problem later.) I eventually found part of my “Wolf Pack” of Jim Girand and Wolf Hilsheim, who graciously allowed me to stash my bike and backpack in their room and use their shower.

At 6 p.m., we walked over to the Team USA party for more socializing and (for me) a glass of Ribeiros, a regional white wine. The Lara Bar and nuts that I packed had worn off, and the appetizers offered were all on toast. No good! After I asked in terrible broken Spanish, one of the servers brought out a plate of sliced ham sans toast. I made a sizable dent in the plate of meat!

Tim Yount gives us kudos.
Tim Yount gives us kudos.
Fellow Duathlete from Arizona. He arrived at the party with a pizza, which made him very popular.
Fellow Duathlete from Arizona. He arrived at the party with a pizza, which made him very popular.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was fun to talk to different folks and hear about their respective races. Martha had a mechanical on the bike that took her several minutes to fix. Others bonked. Others had very good races. Others were overwhelmed by the fast starting pace.

Hunger progressed to starving and dizzy. No one seemed to be in a hurry to leave. The hotel staff promptly ended the party at 8 p.m. and people continued to linger in the hallway. Finally, a group of us started walking toward “old town” for dinner. Mike McCarty, myself, renowned Bay Area podiatrist Amol Saxena and his wife, Karen, dined at Hotel Rua on a feast of small prawns, large prawns, mussels, and a Ensalada Mixta. The seafood was heavenly good. The small prawns were sautéed in a mix of olive oil and spices (most likely paprika). The potato chips disappeared in seconds.

After dinner, we walked to the awards ceremony, where we learned that Jim Girand secured the bronze for his 70-plus age group. He was beaming. The room was pretty chaotic. Fatigue was hitting me hard by this point, so I opted to skip the post-race celebration, which featured a band singing American pop covers, sometimes in English, sometimes in Spanish, with acrobatics and elaborate lighting and video. I walked with Mike back to his hotel to retrieve most of my belongings and the sound of bad pop music could be heard through the entire city.

I got home after midnight, exhausted, wide awake and hungry again.

Monday: The trip north.

No exercise today. After a leisurely morning eating breakfast and chatting with some fellow duathletes at the hotel, I made my way north to find Castro de Barona, an ancient Celtic fortress located in the province of A Coruña, which was about a 90-minute drive from Poio. The ruins date back to the Iron Ages and is situated atop a rugged, rocky outcrop peering over the Atlantic ocean. A rocky, sandy trail about a mile long takes you to the ruins. The round circles were once dwellings and workshops. A moat once protected the site, but is hard to see. Originally, the site contained many more dwellings, but over time the sea progressively ravaged the structures.

The path to Castro de Barona
The path to Castro de Barona
The ruins
The ruins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standing on site, one can take in spectacular views of the Porto do Son coastline.From what I understand, Castro de Barona is situated along what is known as Costa da Morte (Coast of Death), a stretch of rocky coast along the Northwestern edge of Spain that is named for the large number of deadly shipwrecks.

A bird takes in the spectacular view.
A bird takes in the spectacular view.
A view from the opposite direction.
A view from the opposite direction

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From there, I planned to continue toward Cabo Fisterra, a lighthouse that marks the westernmost point of the Iberian Peninsula. I’ve seen it called “Land’s End” and “The End of the World,” because nothing stands between Spain and the New World but Ocean. Visiting the Sea of Death and the End of the World in one trip seemed fitting.

Castelo de San Carlos, on the coast at the end of the world.
Castelo de San Carlos, on the coast at the end of the world.

The drive to Fisterra took much longer than expected, but wound me through quiet rural roads with views of farmland, vineyards, cottages and several tiny unpronounceable villages. As I approached Finisterre, I started seeing a fair number of hikers (aka pilgrims) walking along the road with packs. Finisterre marks the end of the journey for the Way of St. James, a 90-km trek from Santiago de Compostela.

I never did find the signature lighthouse, and was too sick of driving to keep searching, so I stopped at the small port and poked around a bit. A row of small restaurants lined the port, so of course I stopped for a late lunch. (It was 5 p.m. by this point. Lunch usually goes from about 2 p.m. to 4:30 here, so I was way off.) And of course I screwed up my words and asked for the seafood salad with “no milk” instead of “no cheese.” Ug. I’m glad the server was patient.

Seafood salad. No bread, cheese or milk.
Seafood salad, with mussels, octopus, shrimp and tuna.       And no bread, cheese or milk.

I didn’t hang around Fisterra long because the area felt pretty touristy.

I arrived back at Hotel Paris at about 8 p.m. and bumped into Nigel, a new friend from England. He ventured off to find dinner, I retreated to my hotel room to find a snack, and we both reconvened in the hotel’s lounge for a nice conversation, comparing our adventures from the day. It was fascinating to learn about his life and the environment, both athletic and otherwise, in the UK compared to the US. Our heath care just flat-out sucks. But I already knew that.

I wasn't sure of this device's proper use (until later), but it worked fine for washing the uniform.
I wasn’t sure of this device’s proper use (until later), but it worked fine for washing the uniform.

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