Thursday, July 9, 2015

Amigos on Camino -- Day 7 Palas de Rei to Melide

Day 7 and it is the first of two consecutive 14.5 kilometre stretches.  After walking for a week, I like to think that my hamstrings and calf muscles are up to the task.  There is mutinous muttering from various muscle groups when I lace up my shoes but soon, everyone quiets down.

In the clear light of day, we pass through the town of Palas de Rei -- a pretty little town which seems to have more shops than most.

We are  tempted to get new outfits, much like what this mannequin is wearing because the shop is open and new hiking clothes wink at us from the shop window.

There is our Amigo, Santiago poised on top of a fountain, looking for all the world as if he is about to step off and walk with us.

The flecha amarilla points the way out of town, as we pass the appropriately named street.  There's just time for a ghostly selfie from a shop window.

We pass through the outlying parts of Palas de Rei where two rather exuberant looking stone pilgrims bid us Buen Camino.

I'm  back along the hated national road, this time the N-547 where whizzing trucks and delivery vans threaten life and limb.  
I see a familiar logo pasted on a building across the road and wonder if Philippine Airlines has anything to do with a transport company in Galicia.

We're finally off the highway and get into the wooded trail.  The road veers upward and my calf  muscles and hamstrings let go of an audible sigh.

Eucalyptus forests abound in this part of Galicia -- their scent fills the air and I take deep lungfuls of fragrant air.  Giant ferns grow at the base of the trees -- everything is green and fresh.

The sharp,  invigorating aroma of eucalyptus makes the Camino truly a full-on sensory experience.

 The Camino frequently sends gifts to the peregrino.  If I hadn't looked down close enough at the writing on this arrow, I would have missed this message from no less than Sta. Teresa de Avila
herself -- "nada te turbe"  let nothing disturb you.  Exactly what I need to remember along my Camino.

We emerged from the forest path to be confronted by massive earthmoving machinery -- a new road was cutting across the pilgrim path.

Soon we were going through the familiar looking small hamlets that consisted of fewer than ten houses.

Most of the time I hardly saw a soul and was quite surprised to see this lady,  in bright pink, sitting on a bench and seemingly waiting for something, or some one.

A stone cruceiro stands before an abandoned house. Small stones, known as stones of sorrow, litter the base.  Tradition along the Camino has it that should you have a burden or a sorrow, you pick up a stone and leave it at the Cruz de Ferro somewhere near Rabanal.  
The practice has found its way all along the Camino and peregrinos leave small stones on top of mogotes or markers and on cruceiros, symbolically parting with their difficulties and encumbrances.

The Camino has been kind to us -- we have enjoyed walking through cool, cloudless days this past week.  But now, summer has come to Galicia and the heat is evident at mid-morning.  
We see the outline of a giant shell in the distance -- could we be seeing a mirage, in this heat?

But no, there is indeed an oasis in the middle of this hot morning. There is even a small brook that we cross through to get to the albergue.

This is the gigantic, enormous scallop shell that adorns the front of the albergue.  It is the biggest I have seen so far and I doubt it can be topped.

A fortifying rest along with several cold beverages gives us the fuel to go on.  

I spy the mogote with the K. 58 sign that tells us we are in the hamlet of Campanilla.  Campanilla is the last town of Lugo and from here on in, we will be walking in another district of Galicia.
A pause for a photo as this immortalises my age today,  as I walk my Camino.
K. 58 also means that we have walked eight kilometres and have 6.5 kilometres more to go.

We pass through more back country roads, thankful for the shade from the noonday heat.

This mogote states that we have left the province of Lugo, where we have been walking for the past 6 days and have entered the boundary of A Coruna Province where Santiago de Compostela is also located.  The scallop shells on the markers from hereon in would now be coloured yellow.

At Km 56 or ten kilometres from where we had started off in Palas de Rei, we came upon the 
village of Lobreiro.  

 Everyone seemed to be shuttered indoors so I was surprised to see this tractor almost speeding through the village.  He was probably in a hurry to get out of the heat and tuck into his lunch.

Lobreiro has a beautiful Romanesque church, the Iglesia de Santa Maria.  
I  loved all these  stone Romanesque churches we passed along the way.  
Compact, squat and sturdy, they seemed very personal to me, unlike the grand and magnificent Gothic and Baroque cathedrals that were of a scale that I could only admire but not relate to.
More often than not, these Romanesque churches also had simple and plain interiors,  conducive to contemplation and prayer.

 There is a lovely image of Our Lady carved on the tympanum above the (unfortunately) closed
door of the church.  Since we walk through the villages in the morning till mid afternoon,
we are lucky if a church is open as they usually open at around 4 or 5  p.m.
Pilgrims' masses are held daily in most parishes at 7:30 p.m., at that time of the day in this season, the sun is still blazing hot and bright.

Walking is hot work today -- there is a pretty medieval stone bridge ahead over a trickle of a stream.  Further on I spy only wide open spaces -- the tree canopies end here.

If the walking notes are correct, we have less than two kilometres to our destination.  These last two kilometres took us beside the highway, through industrial estates and warehouses -- with very little shade for some relief from the noonday sun.

Thank goodness for this rest area and we all agree to stop.  The little bar looks untended until a young lady runs out to get our orders.  

I cannot resist a cold can of Estrella Galicia beer -- I have not drunk beer while walking on the Camino, taking just water or Coke but today, I succumb.  No one ever said you can't drink
and walk.

There is much jubilation when we see this medieval stone bridge.  Our walking notes clearly state that it is one small hamlet away from Melide.

 "We go thattaway" -- we point in the general direction.  In that direction would be a cool room, a bath and rest.

 But we were not quite in Melide yet -- the bridge just spanned the river to this village of Furelos.
We had to walk through this and then through what seemed like an interminable open field,  past residential areas and generic looking buildings ... and still Melide was not in sight.

It is with much relief that we finally enter the town of Melide.  The Capilla de San Pedro  greets the tired and dusty Amigos.  Our hotel, to our chagrin, was located in the old part of town, another 500 meter walk from here.  
Our Amigo, Santiago pulled a fast one today.  The 14.5 kilometre walk was just to the boundary of Melide -- the walk to the old town and our hotel was another two  kilometres more -- all in all, a total walk of 16.5  kilometres.

I needed sustenance after that long walk.  There was a bar near the hotel where I finally satisfied my craving for roasted pimientos de padron.  Along with crispy, fresh sardines it made for a very satisfying dinner.

Roasted peppers go well with cold draft beer, sipped slowly as the sun goes down in Melide.  
Everything looks good with beer -- even the prospect of another 14 kilometre walk tomorrow.

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