The camino never ceases to amaze – you think you’ve seen and done it all, and then there is a new twist.
Started off in the dark and the rain, with only the LED flashlight from my trusty Nokia E63 cellphone for illumination. The camino switched frequently from paved roads to tracks through forests. This morning the way was as much stream-beds as walking paths. It was quite a relief 20 or so minutes on to see in the dim light of dawn the canary yellow poncho of Gonzo, one of the four cousins from Santiago, Chile.
I stuck with them until full light and the small church at Furelos, where we ‘did photos’ together in all possible permutations. Nice guys, I like them more each time we meet.
In the downpour and rivelets for paths it was harder to get a good walk going, but it was still a good day.
Have I mentioned ferns, moss and oak trees – and broom? Looks so much like home (minus the fir trees) that only today I noticed that the slate is gone from the roofs (now half round red ceramic tiles) and the fields (now mostly barbed wire). The valleys are wider and gentler, and the individual fields not so small and delineated by walls. The path is no longer between walls either. Walked up then down to a river several times during the course of the day. At another umbrellaed fruit stand selling fresh raspberries, fresh figs and homemade raspberry jam (you leave coins in the box) I almost didn’t recognise Pia underneath her rain gear, but she recognised me even though I look more like a red balloon than a peregrina.
She was with Javier from Saragosa and her already good Spanish is much more fluid.
At Melida I spotted a cyber cafe and since I’ve been wanting a good connection for days I went in. I was the only customer (today’s theme). Had the best cafe con leche since Olympia (in fact two) and the patron and I had our choice of 22 computers, but ended up sitting side by side typing for more than an hour.
I then visited the local church – open, and coming out I noted that the museum of local history was also open. It turned out to also be free, and as the only visitor I had the place to myself for about an hour. Quite interesting displays including one on shoemaking, including traditonal wooden shoes, wooden shoe forms and shoes made from those forms.
Finally decided it was time to move on. Really fine counyry lanes to walk on with lovely familiar variations of gray clouds. Occasional drizzle, occasional downpour, occasional sun. On the way out of Arzúa at about 4:00 I stopped at a pharmacy to replace the bath gel I left in the shower at Portomarin. The shopkeeper informed me that the albergue I was heading for was closed for the season and he didn’t think there were any others open for 20k. I’d been hoping to do about 30k today, but his advice followed by a through downpour convinced me to stay put.
Around the corner I found a nice clean albergue with a computer with internet connection, wi-fi, washer and dryer, kitchen with tea kettle, showers with doors and dressing areas, toilet paper in the bathroom, clean blankets (it also cost 7€ instead of 3€). I was the first person in my room, so I choose the single bed next to the outlet. Quickly took a lovely hot shower and gave every piece of clothing except silk nightshirt & Kathy’s socks to the hoteliera to get washed and dried.
It was while I was waiting for my clothes to dry and I was using the real computer to upload the music clips and photos that I realised I was the ONLY person in the albergue. At 6:00 the hoteliera gave me the key, told me where to leave it tomorrow morning and left. I immediately moved to the double bed near the window. I dumped everything out of my bag and pockets, spread everything out and repacked, getting those things that had migrated to odd places back to where they belong, tossing stuff I don’t need.
I went out for dinner and ran into Jonathan who had already eaten, but sat and talked with me while I ate about as his job as an architect for refuguee camps around the world. We went shopping for some groceries so I could make breakfast in “my” kitchen tomorrow. And then I returned to my “home” relishing all of the space and quiet.
22 Oct 2009