Okay, that was sort of brutal. I’m glad we did 20km yesterday because the expected mileage for today’s walk was definitely underestimated. Somehow, I thought we only had 20km to walk today. We were not in great shape at the end but we made it. The 20km without backpacks yesterday did not really prepare us for today.
As there is no bus in the morning from Vercelli to Salasco, our only option was a taxi. After a pleasantly short ride (that took us almost seven hours to walk yesterday!j , we alighted at the Salasco church and started back towards the trail. Remember that we were about one kilometer away yesterday but there was no way to get the taxi driver to drive down a dirt road to get us closer.
Today’s walk was only about 25% on blacktop today and those portions were primarily where the alternative route and main route coincided. The majority of trails were gravel, dirt, low vegetation or, in a couple of 100m sections, very high vegetation. In one spot, after a long walk down a gravel path, the trail seemed to dead end. I checked the GPS and it said to continue straight another 100m before turning onto a road. We had to bash through thick weeds, bushes and grass up to our waists. A short time later, we had to do the same thing but the vegetation was as tall as I am and it was along side of a padi field. We had to be careful with our footing lest we would fall in.
The entire trail was still flat as an Englishman’s apartment and zig-zagging though the rice fields with an occasional corn field thrown in for variety. We considered our own, more direct, 20km trail along a canal but we vetoed the idea as it would have been boring. I now want a re-count.
By the time we got to about the 17km point, we were exhausted and drained by the burning sun. Luckily, we thought, there was a petrol station rest stop at the corner and it was the only place to get any sustenance the whole day. The two lemon sodas went down so beautifully but a large, shared sandwich hit our empty stomachs like a brick. We were so lethargic on the next three kilometers, it took us almost an hour. As we got closer to Lamporo though, Melanie switched to second gear and I had to jog to keep within sight of her. Fortunately, she usually doesn’t check the GPS trail so she has to wait for me at every intersection.
We practically limped past the early houses of Lamporo, asking everyone we saw were the Parochial House was, our beds for the night. We didn’t want to walk a single extra step. People just kept pointing further down the road. Eventually one woman took us inside the church and stopped the recitation of the rosary to introduce us to the woman that runs the hostel. That woman passed her rosary to the next person to carry on and she walked us the last 50m to the hostel. If you are following us, it’s actually easy to find, about 50m past the church (keep the church on your left) and look left for the pilgrim logo.
We are in a nice room with eight beds and apparently no other occupants. There is another room that has two beds and we think one other pilgrim is staying there. If so, he arrived before us and is likely at the bar. A simple dinner will be served shortly and that, the bed, shower, hand laundry facilities, and a simple breakfast tomorrow is donativo – we pay what we can. Some people can’t pay as much and others subsidize them. It’s not supposed to be a way for a cheap holiday for some but it does work out that way at times. We try to figure out fair market value based on other fixed-price hostels, then figure what we usually blow on our cheap hotels and nice meals, then pick out a figure in the middle, based on how well the hostel is run. It’s all good.
That’s it for today. I did take other photos but apparently I somehow lost them. I’m not worried though, most would have looked pretty much the same as these few. The abandoned church photo, near the gas turbine power plant was the only one that might have been interesting.