Pulpo and Frenchmen

Supper was interesting to say the least. There were eight of us, all francophone except me and they insisted I come. Sylvie was québécoise but spoke no English. I made out ok. But they are all crazy. The octopus was like a hard rubber band wrapped in a softer gooier rubber band. Blech!!! And production made over the bill. OMG. That’s it. I’m dining solo from here on in.

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The Frenchman who invited me looks and acts just like the actor who played Julia Child’s husband in the movie. He also speaks very fast. They all just came off the Camino Primitivo. It joins the Francaise here. Short day tomorrow and they have already turned the lights out. Good night.

Pulpo

Melide is a busy place. It took me a while to find the albergue where I sent my pack ahead. Actually it really didn’t take that long. It’s just the town is all strung out along a busy main street and the albergue was down at the far end. It turned out nobody was there and the municipal albergue was right next door. I had a quick look around and decided I didn’t like the look of it so I switched over to the municipal. This close to Santiago the albergues are really sort of industrial to cope with the numbers of pilgrims. I had some bread and cheese and red pepper for lunch. The walk today was only 13.5k and most of it was thru beautiful rural farmland and thru forest paths. Just the last couple k were sort of industrial. I met a French pilgrim in the lunch room and he’s game to try some pulpo tonight. Pulpo is the spanish word for octopus and on my afternoon walk I happened on a open front pulperia–the guy was just chopping the boiled tentacles into bite sized pieces. The water is drained off then they are sprinkled with salt and either paprika or cayenne and smothered in olive oil. I’ve had pulpo in a small portion as a tapas earlier in the trip. It was good but I’m not really sure how I feel about eating something that is as smart as I am. When in Rome, I guess…

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This is the Swiss girl I met. Her steak was bigger than mine was. But not much. I don’t even know what cut this is. It looks like they just hacked off a piece of cow and grilled it.

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These grainery’s are ancient. And they are everywhere in various states of repair. Some are real works of art but all of them have the rounded stones on the bottom to keep mice and rats out.

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Most of the old towns have a church and apart all have a cross in the centre of town. I’m not sure what the significance of the crosses are. These villages also have wash houses, some old, some built in the last twenty years. Some are pretty clean so I think they are still being used.

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These are a couple of 12th century stone bridges. One crosses in the village of Leboreiro, the “field of hares”.
I’ve just been writing this in the village park after a stroll around town. It seems no matter how much I’ve walked there is always time for an explore. No Clara’s today, I was craving milk so sat down in the park and drank a litre. Now a shower and maybe a snooze.

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Here you go Karin. A fixer upper out in the country. Only about $50,000CDN.

I thought it was supposed to get easier

Why are the last three kilometres so hard ?!? It seems no matter how far I walk, the last three kilometres are killers. I have arrived in Palais de Rei. The walk this morning was gorgeous– thru misty fog…and I did the first 12 k no problem. Fast, in fact, for me :-). But then slowly, slowly it started to hurt. Lots. Everything hurts. I’m out of naproxin–have to go to the pharmacia to get more. And although I took a magic spanish ibuprophin this morning it must have worn off and I didn’t think to take another till I arrived. So the day was beautiful but the last three k, what killers!!! I was headed to the centre of town to one of the older alberques but halfway down the hill. There was a nice new albergue calling my name. I checked in and it’s very nice. I need to do some laundry and need soap but it’s siesta and I couldn’t find a store. So my fall back was a couple of Clara’s–I was very dry. Now I’ll go find the supermercado. Apparently there is an open one around the corner, have a shower, wash some clothes and have a snooze.

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The young fellow is Mali. Seven years old. The youngest pilgrim I’ve met so far. He’s travelling with his mom and aunties. He’s on a bike. I’d like to spin him in a centrifuge and sell all the energy that comes out. He’s up and down the trail five or six times and still has energy at the end of the day. The other day he was befriended by an older spanish man and he helped him do chores– push a wheelbarrow to the garbage etc etc. Full of beans.

The last bed

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten the last bed. Tonight I’m staying in Gonzar at Casa Garcia and in spite of being passed by an army of pilgrims, I was lucky enough to get the last bed. I only have about five nights left and I’ve been so lucky. This morning was another magical morning. Rural Galicia is so beautiful and its like stepping back into time. I wonder how many years they have lived like this, on the fringe of civilization. The houses all seem to have the mod cons, tv, washer, dryer, and there’s always a modern car in the yard. But the farm equipment all seems old, and the yard’s are filled with bits and pieces. Everyone has a garden, lots of greens I don’t recognize, and pumpkins!! The cows are driven from pasture to pasture down the lanes, a dog and an old man following. The countryside changed after Portomarin, still lots of forests but bigger fields and fewer farms.
I left Carolyn and Jan at the albergue this morning. They were going to go back to Sarria and get Jan’s knee seen to. I think they will just go on to Santiago after and maybe spend some time at Finnisterre. Jan wanted to put her feet I the ocean. It was a hard walk today but I feel better today than yesterday. It rained the last five k, which is usual for this time of year in Galicia. I’m just enjoying a Clara, will finish this post and go for a shower.
Showered but didn’t wash clothes. It’s still trying to rain. Went over to the other albergue and had a Clara. Then a snooze. Supper was amazing!! Steak as big as a cow. But I haven’t eaten since breakfast. It was so good. Very rare. Just the way I like it. Rice pudding for dessert. Now just a bit of digesting then bed. Our beds have extra blankets on. I think it will be cold but the hostel had a wood fire going and it smells like camping. Good night.

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Oh oh

Well now we’ve had our first injury. When Jan went to check her laundry she slipped on some acorns and twisted her knee. It seems to be quite a nasty sprain so we are just trying to decide what to do. Should she go back to Sarria and see the doctor or go ahead?!?

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Carolyn and Jan will go back to Sarria. I suspect this will be the end of their Camino. Poor Jan. She’d had her heart set on finishing her walk and now she won’t be able to. But they have my hotel in Santiago and hopefully we will be able to connect while there. The sky was beautiful tonight. Red. Red sky at night shepherds’ delight… It was supposed to rain tomorrow. Hopefully not.

I’ve run into the Korean fellow I had supper with way back where the dragon lady held my pack ransom. He was so happy to see me!!! And I him!! It’s so nice to see familiar faces. The tone of the camino had definitely changed. Too many people. It’s actually pissing me off. They’re loud, they get in my way, they plug up my pictures….and the people running the cafés also are miserable. Too many pilgrims.

Great Galicia

Last night we had a fire at our albergue. I don’t mean call the fire trucks fire, but a fire in the old hearth. The hospetalliero supplied several kinds of grappa and Jan bought a bottle of red. A German husband and wife team brought out the guitar and we sang songs and drank wine…it was awesome!!

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We ran into Bev and John, the Australians from Villamayor two weeks ago or more. Bev had started with some blisters (they walked the speed of light) and she finished with her feet shredded, being hospitalized twice with infections, and some kind of an ulcer. They were unable to finish their camino but they have been moving ahead by bus as if they were walking and seeing the sights that way. It was very nice to see them again. They came and joined up at our albergue for the fire.

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It was foggy when we started this morning. Beautiful rural Galicia. Rolling hills, fields, stone walls, farm houses, cows and an ostrich!!

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We did 13.5 k today. Stopped for a great breakfast of cafe and pain au chocolate. Lunch was a Clara and a slice of tuna empanada. Very good. We stopped at a municipal albergue at just the right time. It filled up very fast after we got here. Showered, washed a few bits then went for a beer at the bar. I think I’ll go for a siesta perhaps.

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Last rest day

Oh my hip was sore last night!!! After tossing and turning for what seemed like hours I finally checked the time and took some drugs. 1:30am. I had some of the spanish super ibuprophin and took one and a half tablets (only cause one was broken). It worked. I slept well after that, even with the wind howling around the house. We woke up to some drama though in the morning as no taxi could get thru the bike race to take us to the bus station. It looked sort of dismal for a while but the señora managed to get ahold of Luis’ taxi and they made it thru. What a crazy ride into town. All I could say is thank goodness I wasn’t walking it. A pelegrino broke their leg the day before either in the stretch we had just walked or this one that we drove. It was crazy steep. The taxi driver said his sister who had walked the camino also was of the opinion it was the worst stretch the whole Way. I agree. But anyway we hopped onto a “super” bus to go to Lugos and then had the good fortune to transfer immediately to a second bus to Sarria. We found an albergue, settled in, then went for lunch. We were all starving. Ian and Loma had headed for Villagranca in the morning, and Jan, Carolyn and I went to Sarria. I have 7 days now to walk to Santiago which is probably more than enough. We will probably run into Ian and Loma somewhere on the trail. I can tell, though, that things have changed. There are many many new pilgrims starting from Sarria and the tone has changed somewhat. More Spaniards, and more tour-egrinos. We saw a whole schwak of them getting off a bus dragging suitcases down the narrow street to their tourist albergue.
It will be interesting. I have no pictures for today. It was sort an uninteresting day even though I really enjoyed the bus rides.

Highest point on the camino

This morning we left Rabanal in the dark. It was the first really cold morning we’ve had–the elevation had a lot to do with it. My hands were very cold on my walking poles. Jan and Carolyn had extra socks with them (all three of us had shipped our packs and just carried our day packs) and I told them to slip their socks on as mittens. We had a very easy climb up to the Cruz de Ferro–the weather was beautiful. Blue blue sky, no wind, lovely sunshine. From the iron cross we carried on up another 4 k or so to the height of land, about 1500 meters. Then an incredibly steep descent on loose stones and scree. It was SO hard. All of us had a really hard time going down and we alternated between walking on the trail and on the road. But our feet took a pounding. We had reservations for the night at my first pension. Things were all booked along the way. At el Acebo we had a great lunch–salad and rabbit in almond sauce. Oh, and the obligatory Clara’s. We carried on for the final 3,5k to Riego de Ambros, still down hill but not as bad. Our pension is in a lovely house, not old, and Ian and Loma are also staying here. Poor Jan and Carolyn were shattered. They felt the way I felt on my third or fourth day. We did 20k today and it was a hard twenty k. I have a twin room to myself and they are sharing a double. They both collapsed and had a rest while I showered then Ian and Loma and I headed for the bar. They hadn’t had supper yet and I was thirsty. We had a great visit. Ian found the Cruz de Ferro quite moving, as I did. It was a really beautiful day for it. Jan showed up after a bit and we have a plan for tomorrow. I am running out of time and they are shattered so we will take a cab to Ponferrada (where everything in a 20 mile radius is booked because of a bike race ) and then catch a bus to Sarria to finish the final 100k to Santiago. I will have 6 days to travel 100k which I can do, but if anything weird happens it doesn’t leave me much wiggle room. I have already booked a hotel in Santiago and I am really looking forward to the last week of walking. It will be a different sort of Camino as there will be so many more people on the road. Many Spanish pilgrims start in Sarria because they have only a limited time to walk, and to get the Campostella all you need is the last hundred kilometers. So tomorrow will be a slower day and then the final push.

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Cruz de Ferro

Lord, may this stone, a symbol of my efforts on the pilgrimage, that I lay at the foot of the cross of the Saviour, one day weigh the balance in favor of my good deeds when the deeds of my life are judged. Let it be so. (Amen.)

Cordial Rabe

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Bedbug addendum

So I think we have resolved the bedbug problem. At least I think so. I think I forgot to say where we were staying. It’s Rabinal des Camino just before the Cruz de Ferro. But we have sprayed our packs , baked them in the sun, scrubbed ourselves, and had our clothes all heated in a 60C dryer for an hour. I’m a little skeptical that my clothes actually reached the correct temperatureas some were still wet from the washing yesterday and they came back to me today still wet. The lady hospitaller swears they are ok but if they are still wet how did they reach the correct temperature? Anyway they are now dry and hermetically sealed in ziplock bags. I will wash and dry everything again as soon as I reach civilization and a laundromat. My pack stinks. My shoulder bag stinks. Everything had been turned inside out and I can’t find anything in the seams. Nothing shook out into the oversize garbage bag we used to bake the pack in the sun. But if I wake up with bites tomorrow I will know it didn’t work. I’m actually very grateful and quite moved by how well we were treated. Tonight there were vespers at the 12th century church. An order of Benedictine monks live here and they sang vespers. Gregorian chants in such an old church. It was so beautiful I sat and listened and tears just ran down my cheeks. So grateful for everything we have and the generosity of strangers (I also cursed the hospitaller from San Xavier in Astorga cause I know she knew about the bugs). We then went over to the nearest restaurant and had supper. Fish soup and roast chicken. After a hard stressful day with nothing but a piece of chocolate to eat we really enjoyed our supper. Ian found us a place to stay tomorrow…everything is booked so we will have to walk 20 k but our bags will be sent on ahead. The two Australian ladies are worried but we will take our time. Carolyn just had her 70th birthday a few days ago and Jan is 72. It’s a steep learning curve for them as they have just started their camino in Astorga yesterday. Their bags are very heavy but they will sent them forward and we will just walk up the mountain slowly, past the Cruz de Ferro, and just take our time. The Camino provides….