A brisk walk of 20.0 km (12.5 mi) brought me to Ponte Ulla just before lunch. Getting so close to Santiago (1 day to go) brings new faces onto the scene by those walking slowly as well as a few old faces I haven’t seen in weeks. There’s also strategizing going on. Some want to go further to avoid a 1,000 ft climb immediately in the morning or want to get to the Pilgrims’ Office early afternoon, whereas others like me want to do the climb fresh and while it’s in the 50’s F.
A few interesting observations (pics) along the way are worth a mention. The first is this eucalyptus grove—a very hot topic because of its effects on the environment and employment. In Spain, where environmentalists complain that eucalyptus is crowding out indigenous forests of native oak and beech in Galicia and La Coruna, ecologists say that traditional rural lifestyles, while not as profitable, provide more employment. By one study, an Iberian olive grove requires 199 worker-days per hectare (2.47 acres) to maintain each year, vineyards 128 worker-days and a eucalyptus plantation four worker-days—that’s amazing! They use it mainly for paper pulping.
Two other things struck me. First, the growth on this tree and secondly, we discovered that the couple from Texas that has walked with us for a while shared a fact about the husband (sitting on the right) that he’s a Mount Everest climber (2002). The NY Times article in the past few days on the terrible situation near the top brought out his accomplishment!
Lastly, the albergue I’m staying in tonight is the best: all private rooms—I thought I died and went to heaven!