The morning turned out rainy and grey. I wake up early, and get dressed before the guys wake up - we only have one bathroom to share, and I don't wanna be the cliche girlie ;) . Then I go to the bar for breakfast. "Bar" in Spain is not like "Bar" in the general sense of meaning. A Spanish bar is actually more like a cafe and restaurant. You get there your morning coffee, just like your lunch and dinner, and the locals gather for a chat and night out with wine and song. And almost every bar has a tv. This morning it was also on in O'Cruceiro's bar, and the big LCD screen shows a picture of a huge grey dust cloud. Then serious looking reporters report from various airports live, and the studio moderator looks very concerned. I don't understand what they are saying, but I do remember my remark from last night when Jose-Luis offered to read the newspaper to me: "Unless it's the apocalypse.
...". Well, this looks kinda like one, doesn't it? When Jose-Luis comes in, I ask what's it all about. "In Iceland a volcano erupted. It's kinda bad.". Bad ... like, apocalypse bad? "Well, all planes are grounded. They can't fly because of the ash cloud all over Europe." This does sound bad, but somehow it doesn't bother me at all. Somehow I just know that things are gonna be alright.
Soon Sergio and Ana arrive, and they don't just take my backpack, but also Jose-Luis. He can barely stand on his wounded feet, and has decided to take a cab ride to Melide. I want to go to Casanova, which would be 20 km, but after Ana calls the albergue, it turns out they are closed. Outside it's cloudy and chilly and the weather report announced rain, so I decide to make it shorter today.
A horreos. A corn barn made of granit stones. The holes help dry the corn, and the pillars prevent mice from climbing in.
Only to Palas de Rei, since I don't want to walk in the rain. This is the good thing when you take a lot of time to this trip, you can afford making short routes. Sergio and Ana have rooms to rent in their home in Palas de Rei, and we agree on me calling them up when I arrive there. They get into the Passat, and me and my new Spanish friend say goodbye. I think I'm gonna miss him.
The Way leads through little villages, and I don't meet many people. At one moment Eduardo overtakes me on his bike and waves "Bon Camino!". This is the customary greeting of the Camino, more than ones I've been greeted like that both by pilgrims and locals. I walk on and in one village see a woman setting a table and chairs in front of her house. She puts out fruits and drinks, and leaves it just there.
It's not the first time I see such an offering, many locals put out food and drinks for the pilgrims. It is expected to leave a donation and not to steal it. It's "the spirit of the Camino", and somehow really heartwarming. I take an apple and leave some money.
Around noon I stop at a bar to have a snack. Here I want to buy a bottle of water and leave the empty one on the counter, but the waitress takes the empty one and fills it up with tap water. I ask whether the tap water is drinkable, and she nods. I didn't expect that, for I can still remember my first visit to Spain 20 years ago, when we were warned not to drink the tap water. But this makes sense. Galicia is drenched in water, it seems to pour out of every pore of the earth.
I arrive in Palas de Rei, and am a little bit dazzled.
It's only 1 p.m. and the sun is shining. I realize I don't want to stay here, but go on, but my backpack will be taken to here. But how to explain this in bad, bad Spanish? Walking through the town, I figure I find some bank or some place where people might speak English, and ask them to translate for me. Though Galicia is very touristic due to the pilgrims coming from all over the world, few locals speak any other language than Spanish. Even the younger ones speak poor English or any other language, despite of globalization and internet. Finally I find some kind of office and go in, it looks like a tourist office actually. The lady who works there speaks English, and after I explain to her what I want, she agrees to help me out immediately. I call up Sergio, and the lady explains that I want to continue walking to Melide.
Camino waymark made of scallops
When she hangs up, she says that it is no problem at all, Sergio will bring my backpack to Melide, and I should call him up when I arrive. This went so smooth, I can't believe it! I thank the lady and she says "Bon Camino", and I continue my Way.
The Way goes on through little villages and the forest. All the way to Casanova I don't meet anybody. The sun is shining and I have music playing into my ears, and I'm just happy. In Casanova I bump into two German girls who sit on a bench, ears attached to a cell phone and looking very worried. I greet them and ask if anything was wrong, and they tell me they just got the news about the volcano. They are concerned whether their flight will go out as scheduled on Tuesday. I try to cheer them up, and say that the ashes will most likely settle down by then, but I don't think they were convinced.
They seemed really concerned. As I continued walking, I figured that it really is not a nice thing to get stuck in a foreign country for an indefinite period of time. Actually, it's pretty scary. But for some strange reason I still wasn't concerned at all. The Earth didn't stop moving, and gravitation still held me firmly to the ground which I could feel very much in my painful legs. The lower limbs are the most important body parts of the walking pilgrim. Blisters, muscle fever, twists are their worst enemies. I've seen what blisters can do to a man, and it's not nice. Luckily, I had none so far, but I could feel every muscle and bone in my legs. The worst thing was to get up on my feet again after a short rest. Like there were no legs but some wood sticks not belonging to my body.
Resting at Leboreiro
And it hurts! Oh, how it hurts!
I continue through the woods, and the loneliness is starting to bother me. Where are all the people? Many pilgrims walk alone, some in couples. Most say that walking alone is a great way to reflect on your life and connect to your inner self again. It's true. Walking through nature for hours alone really lays some peace and calm on you. But right now I'm just glad to have my mp3 player with me :) . Soon I pass the village of Leboreiro, and it's beautiful. Outside the village a little bridge crosses a brook, and I stop for a rest. Take out some cookies, and take off my shoes. The only sounds are the water and the birds, and it's just wonderful. Then, suddenly, they start coming. One by one pilgrim passes me by. It's amazing, we are all on the same route, but albeit have to stop to meet each other.
The pilgrim's cross.
Finally I arrive in Melide. I can't believe that I made it - it's been 26,5 km! Can't help but feel proud of myself. Just a little bit :) . Now I have to call up Sergio, and just as I was thinking this, him and Ana come across the street. On my asking, they tell me Jose-Luis has taken it further to Ribadiso, and so they take me to the public albergue. It's a huge hall that serves for exhibitions and fairs, and inside a container house with 2 rooms with 15 bunk bends each, a shower room, toilets, and a kitchen. The landlady wears a bitchface (sorry, but she does), and after I pay 5 € she hands me the one-time sheets. I make arrangements with Sergio and Ana for tomorrow and we say goodbye. I go upstairs to my room, and find it half-full, mostly with old Spanish men.
Bridge in Furelos
The shower is hot, and I feel pretty tired, and decide to stay in tonight and make me some dinner. Suddenly a commotion starts: a group of young ladies comes in, and the old men get all excited and happy - okay, this sounds bad, but it isn't. It turns out, that they had met earlier on the Camino, and are just happy to see each other again. This is another thing on the Camino: when you meet someone ones, you are always happy to see this person again, no matter how short this encounter was, it has a kinda old-buddy-feel to it. Would never happen in "real" life, would it? As I go to the kitchen I meet two of this group, Brittany and Giulia. It turns out the kitchen supplies are limited to 2 (two) small pots. That's it. And Brittany and Giulia are currently using them.
Entering A Coruna county
I figure, I need some more food anyway, and go to find a store. In the store, they sell only large loafs of bread, don't cut them in halfs. But the salesgirl produces half a bread from somewhere and gives it to me for free! Did I mention that the locals along the Camino are incredibly kind and helpful? Well, they are! Back at the albergue, the kitchen has become dining room, everybody has brought some food and shares it among each other. We also share utensils. An empty yoghurt cup becomes my soup plate, and Giulia is so kind to lend me her spoon. It's actually very strange, that there are no kitchen utensils, for that is something you expect when an albergue provides a kitchen. Anyway, it turns out to be a fun evening. The girl group are American students studying Spanish in Bilbao
, and one of them, Kelsey, is my bed neighbour, and I'm glad it's not an old man (no offence).
This yellow flower grows all over the country
The old Spanish men turn out to be party animals. They pull out a traditional wine container made of leather. It is held away from your mouth in the air, and you pour the wine in a thin spurt into your mouth. Now you have to be adroit enough to drink it with your mouth half open and not spill anything. As you drink, the gang counts loudly to ten. If you make it to ten without spilling anything, you get cheers and laughs, and it's just fun! I'm so sorry I don't have any photos from this evening.
Near 10 p.m. the gang starts to get to bed. The public albergues have a curfew. Though most of my room mates are still pretty much awake, there's one old man who demonstratively shuts down the lights at 10 sharp. It's my first night in a public albergue, and I know now that I like the private ones better.
In the public ones there are more people which makes it less intimate. This is strengthened by the curfew. The last three nights I had spend in private ones and we were five people tops in the rooms. We ate together, drank together and stayed up as long as we wanted to talk. In the public albergue we also ate and drank together, but it was too many people and too little time to really sit and talk. And there's a huge difference between sleeping in a room with 29 other people or with 4 other people. The nights at the private albergues were silent, the night at the public one, well, there's always someone who snores, talks on the phone, or packs up to leave at 3:30 in the night. I also think that these differences apply to whether the albergue is in a town or in a small village.
The container-albergue in Melide
Usually pilgrims take the towns for end of route, and that is understandable for here you have restaurants and shops. But the little villages have something special about them. At least, these are my observations, and you don't have to agree with me.
Though I have a restless night, I'm glad I don't have to loose sleep over the apocalypse.