This morning I was bitten by a dog... and tonight I am sleeping in a monastery. Today is a strange day.
It started routinely enough. I got up, marvelled at the beautiful scene outside my window, did my stretches, and went down for breakfast.
I was late hitting the road so I'll hold my hands up - I didn't do any sightseeing in Lugo. I do feel bad about that, because it seemed like a beautiful city, but there were hills involved and it was in the opposite direction to the one I needed to go in. So I cycled over the bridge that was outside my window and kept going. There was a lot of uphill today, which is nothing new, but a good bit of downhill as well, to be fair.
The going was good. But it didn't last long. Along the way, Google maps sent me on a bit of a more rural diversion. I passed farm after farm, field after field. There were dogs in most of these places, and not one of them had a chain or a leash or a fence to keep them in. They were just roaming free.
I didn't think much about this until I turned a corner on a small rural backroad and met with three angry dogs. Suddenly, they snapping at my heels and barking and running along beside me as I cycled. I shouted at them, but they kept at it. Thankfully the large Alsatian type dog didn't get me, but the smaller terrier did. It got its incisor deep into my right ankle.
I got more of a shock than anything else. I had never been bitten by a dog before and couldn't quite believe it.
I drew my legs up almost to the crossbar and freewheeled dangerously fast down the path, and after a few metres they stopped chasing me.
Not for the first or last time on the camino, I cried.
But then I pulled myself together, washed the cut, put and alcohol wipe on it, and then a bandage.
It was deep, but not wide. And it was clean. I have my tetanus and rabies shots up to date also, so I was fairly sure I was ok.
As luck would have it, I randomly ran into a woman a little later who was walking the Camino and who happened to be a doctor! She had a look at it for me and said it should be fine.
A long, hard slog later, I got to a town called Sobrado.
I was wrecked, and still had another 20km to cycle to Arzua, so I stopped for a break and thought I would go see the local monastery.
When I went in, I realised it was a refuge of sorts. A kind of Albergue. They asked if I wanted to stay there for the night, and in a moment of madness I said I did. Upon registration, I met a lovely monk who originally hailed from London. He now lives in the monastery with the other monks and with his cat Maximillion. It was nice to talk to someone in fluent English for a change!
The beds themselves, and the rooms, were very basic. There were 12 beds in six bunks in small stone rooms off the main cloister.
It was beautiful. It was surreal. And it was freezing. I woke up four or five times during the night because of the cold, and I developed a small cough. Perversely, however, I think it was still worth it. I mean, how often does one get to stay in a genuine, fully functioning monastery for the night?
I felt like a real pilgrim for the first time. I explored the monastery that night, before lights out at 10pm, and discovered every single dusty and cobweb-covered nook and cranny. It was one of the best nights of my life.
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