Our three night recuperation stay in Ourense was very pleasant.  The city is on the Miño River, which downstream forms the northern border of Portugal, as well as defining the vinho verde production area.  The Miño cuts a deep trench in this part of the country, which meant our ears were popping as we descended by taxi.  At only 100 metres, this was our lowest elevation since leaving Sevilla.  The sudden descent from 900 metres at A Gudiña (and up to 1300 metres at the passes) meant that we moved forward sharply in the advance of Spring.  At the higher elevations there wasn’t a hint of green on the oak trees, but in Ourense everything was fully in leaf.  There were also a few citrus trees, which we had not seen for several weeks.

Since one of the unusual amenities of Ourense is access to hot springs, we made another visit to one on our last day in town.  Walking past the hot spring closest to downtown, which like most is closed due to COVID, we noticed a significant number of bathers.  The locals merely step around the simple barriers and access the concrete and natural basins at the edge of the river.  There are no change areas or toilets open, but there are also no rules or regulations.  It had a delightful vibe.  We fell into conversation with local woman who teaches in some of the surrounding villages and the time just flew by.  We completely forgot that most of our pale Canadian bodies had not seen real sun for many months, and the result was pink bellies and other assorted parts.  Vale la pena, as they say here.

It has been 11 days since we were diagnosed with COVID.  We had nine “zero days” (as they call rest days on the Appalachian Trail) and two days on a premature and overly optimistic restart.  Today, feeling sufficiently recovered we once again set off, limiting ourselves to a half day.  Having descended to the Miño River we had a significant climb back onto the surrounding plateau.  I had to help Ruth push her bike up the 15+ percent grades, but every step was a delight.  It felt so good to be moving towards Santiago again.  

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