DAY THIRTY EIGHT: 15 November 2012 from Palas de Rei to Arzua
The windows of the hostel, a vast wall of early morning light, are wet with the condensation of fetid pilgrim breathe. The air is heavy with the ordour of stale sweat dried into pilgrim socks and under armpits. My night was interrupted with dreams of murder and car chases and the sharp shock indignity of an aching ankle. A reminder not to forget my little accident outside Viana. Last nights jolly Spanairds are this morning’s befuddled and bemuddled little boys. It doesnt take them long to wake up and get rumbunctious, rubbing salt into the wounds of at least one pilgrim. J walked the Camino Francais in 2010, the last Holy Year. After a busy couple of years back in the rat race she has decided to walk from Sarria to set herself up for a year long sabbatical. Working in law enforcement necessitates her low profile in my diary but she proved to be a mainstay of life and energy for the finale to Santiago. She was up and packed with an efficiency that told us all that she was a force to be reckoned with. The bar across from the hostel shakes itself awake for the breakfast opportunity of our little knot of the night before. J entertains us with her story of meeting Martin Sheen & Emilio Estevez propped up at another shabby unassuming bar in 2010 when they were on the road promoting their film The Way. Not the slickest of films I couldnt fault its portrayal of modern pilgrimmage. And on this morning our motley, multi-cultural group could easily have filled in for a cameo scene in the movie.
We trickle out of the bar and each in our own individual rhythm. It is a dry unprepossing day, inoffensive warmth and blue-washed sky. I can feel the flatness of it being over. What else could there be to experience, suddenly the 65km left to walk just seemed too far. For awhile I got lost in the depression of wanting the walk to be over, my rucksack dragging me down, I could feel the rough surface of the track and the aching pain in the soles of my feet. It took me awhile to remember to pull myself back into the moment into the reality of the gentle downward undulation of the land and the kindness of the day. I remembered I had a choice, a choice to keep loving the journey. I cross into Coruna and as I start up the gentle slope to Melide I see my musketeer friends up ahead; J, Kevin and Adriano. Melide is famous for pulpo Galega – Galacian Octopus. Now I find this hilarious. Melide is not particularly close to the sea. The pulpo here will have to have been transported from the coast. I couldnt help but see in my mind’s eye the image of a tourist coach packed to the gills (!) with excited octopii ready for the boiling pots of Melide. Obviously Coruna being a coastal region I can understand the popularity of pulpo. I can only think that Melide, as the first town of reasonable size on the Camino in Coruna, has seized the opportunity to establish a unique selling proposition to snaffle some of the pilgrim pounds. Lunch was often a frugal affair for me so I have to say in my case the tactic worked. J having been through town before made a bee line for an authentic looking tourist gaff with a resident pulpo boiler out front to demonstrate the transformational process. We splashed out and ordered plates of salad, stuffed green chillis, pasties and of course pulpo sated in oil and paprika. The glass of Riberio was delicious and set up for my afternoon ramble.