Today was a short hiking day. I left Melide in the dark at 8:04 a.m. and though it had rained all night, it had cleared by morning. I soon left the busyness of the city behind and made my way into a woodland of tall eucalyptus and broad oaks. I crossed the arroyo San Lázaro on a small stone causeway, then stopped briefly at El Pequeño Oasis, where I admired a cute pink Fiat. The walk was beautiful; the wind was gusting like espíritu santo urgently whispering mysterious secrets.
Today was a day of palleiros (haylofts for cattle), pallotes (straw-covered huts), brona (outdoor ovens for cooking cornbread), and ruined oxcarts.
Melide (Centro) to Puente río San Lázaro (2.5 km)
The path snaked through shaded oak and chestnut forests, eventually giving way to pine and eucalyptus. I continued through Parabispo over the río Raído, passing Peroxa down to the N-547 into Boente.
In town, I met Fatima again; she mentioned she is from Corsier-sur-Vevey in Switzerland, where Charlie Chaplain was from. We were still passing each other frequently. She only spoke French with a few words of English, and I only spoke and understood a few words of French. Somehow she told me that she started walking August 3, first from Mont St. Michel to Bordeaux in France, then by train to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, where she started the Camino Frances. Because we saw each other so often, she continued to holler out, “Hasta Luego!” and we both laughed. She was always smiling. Today we took photos of each other in Boente. In the same town, I stopped into Igrexa Santiago de Boente, with its image of the seated Saint above the altar. Documented from the 8th-century, the current building is from the 20th-century.
Puente río San Lázaro to Boente (Cruce) (3.3 km)
I left the town and dipped into the Boente valley, with a shaded rest area alongside a river. It was sure nice to know I only had to walk 14 km, so I could take my time and linger. The light was beautiful and the temperature perfect. The walk was very hilly though. I was so tired of climbing. I loved the cute Spanish houses and the hórreos, typical granaries from the northwest of the Iberian peninsula, mainly in Galicia, built in wood or stone, raised from the ground by pillars ending in flat staddle stones to prevent access by rodents. Ventilation was allowed by slits in the walls.
It was in Castañeda that pilgrims dropped limestone rocks they had brought from Triacastela to be fired for the lime used in building the Cathedral at Santiago.
Boente (Cruce) to Castañeda (2.2 km)
The path took us around a wooded hill, across a raised pass over the N-547, through a woodland, and into the idyllic village of Ribadiso de Baixo, sitting on the river Iso adjoining the medieval bridge. Here, I stopped for lentil soup, bread and Coke Zero.
Castañeda to Ribadiso da Baixo (3.1 km)
I climbed steeply uphill on tarmac to the city of Arzúa (population 6,300), the last major population center before Santiago. The medieval core of the town is overshadowed by its modern side, making it not especially delightful. The town is known for its local cheese.
Ribadiso da Baixo to Arzúa (3.2 km)
My albergue, The Way Hostel Arzúa, was modern and clean. I was in a room with seven single beds. As this would be my last night in an albergue, it was a nice way to end. The only thing that wasn’t good was that my backpack had not yet arrived and all other packs seemed to have been delivered. When I asked the receptionist to call the delivery service, they said they hadn’t picked it up. We called my albergue from last night, O Candil in Melide, and found the pack was still sitting in the lobby where I’d left it. Luckily, they arranged to have it delivered to me as soon as possible.
In my room were two Brazilian young ladies, Maria (38 years old with 2 children, a boy of 19 and a girl of 11) and Rubia (no children). Both left their husbands behind in Brazil. It came out later that Maria was separated from her husband. They were doing a portion of the Camino Primitivo route, which joins the Frances in Melide; they had also been in my Melide albergue last night.
A South-African lady, Marie-Helene, 77, was also in our room. She came in complaining about the receptionist (“unhelpful and rude”) and that she needed to see a pharmacist about her feet. She had been doing whatever parts of the route pleased her, and doing the rest by bus. She had met a Korean lady at a bus station who had been walking with her and looking out for her. She was very emotional about it and about people who had taken care of her here and there.
Earlier today, I once again met Janet from Chicago (retired from law enforcement for the Federal Government) who was staying in a bunk bed at my hostel. After my regular routine of doing laundry and showering, Maria and Rubia and I went to a pizza place near our hostel for beers. A guy named Jesse from New York joined in our conversation and then Janet came along and we all had a fun dinner together – beer, margarita pizza and vegetable pizza. It was fun company and a surprise how it all came together.
Off the central square in Arzúa is the modern parish church dedicated to Saint James with an image of Santiago as both Moorslayer and pilgrim. Just behind it is the original 14th century Augustinian Capilla de La Magdalena.
After dinner, Janet and I walked by the (closed) Capilla de La Magdalena and then to the parish church of Santiago, but we had just missed the pilgrim mass.
I had two long days ahead to reach Santiago: 20.6 km Friday to O Pedrouzo and another 20km into Santiago on Saturday. We had all been wondering if we would have the Botafumeiro swinging at our pilgrim mass. Many rumors were flying around about it. The Cathedral only swings it on feast days (November 1 was the next one) or if a pilgrim group pays for it. We were hopeful but not certain.
One rumor I’d heard from two different people was that they knew of a bishop who had informed them the Botafumeiro would be swung at a 4:00 mass on Saturday. However, there was no mass regularly scheduled for Saturday at 4:00. Maybe it would be a special mass for the school groups we had seen or for the German group I’d heard about from the Connecticut ladies. It supposedly cost 450€ to swing it. We would see what would happen, but I knew I’d be mighty disappointed if we didn’t have it.
*Day 45: Thursday, October 18, 2018*
*23,262 steps, or 9.86 miles: Melide to Arzúa (14.2 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Back to Serenity (Monte Velho).