June 13, 2011 Palas de Rei to Melide

Left late after talking with Sebastian on Jacqueline’s phone at panaderia across from albergue. They are to be in Palas de Rei tonight, so texted them later that I would taxi back with Jacqueline and meet them for dinner there. Walked quickly to Melide for lunch there with Stefan of South Africa and his friend.

At pulperia in Melide Stefan shared full spiritual concepts he had been developing since reading Eckhardt Tolle. He has some extremely good ideas. I suggested he read Thomas Merton, Thich Nhat Hanh and Anthony de Mello. I hope he will write his story in order to publicize these great ideas.

After lunch got a room at same hotel where Gail and I had stayed in 2008, just across from the albergue. Looking this afternoon for peluqueria for haircut after shower. Then taxi to Palas de Rei. Nice hotel room – Chiquitin is the hotel.

As opened door to taxi in Palas de Rei all pilgrim family was there to cheer and hug. Dinner at same restaurant as last night. Many stories, much joking and round of arujo on me. At dinner was whole gang, less Bea. Beautiful pilgrim family moment.

After dinner asked restaurant to call taxi for return trip to Melide, but no taxi available. Waiter drove us back instead. Paid him 20€ for his kindness and gave many thanks. Though he and the restaurant staff had been a little gruff with our pilgrim family, he turned out to be very gracious in getting us back to Melide.

June 12, 2011 Mercadoiro to Portomarin to Palas de Rei

Entry to Portomarin -- low water reveals older bridge into town.

Walked the 6.7 km to Portomarin and there saw Heidi, Beata and Joy of Australia. Went into church for sello when opened at 10:00 then stood with the three to visit and there had unusual experience of receiving sudden flood of unwelcome advice: “A Camelbak is no good, it gets dirty” (Beatta), “It holds too much water; you can die from drinking too much water” (Joy), “The pretty shell from your wife is too heavy to carry” (Joy), “You need to press the 4-leaf clover you were given or it will turn brown.”

I decided my response would be to receive last bit of advice, but in response to Joy give her a hug to let her know I loved her even though she was “having a bad day.” Couldn’t help but think that a trio of people such as this gave Shakespeare his idea for the three witches in Macbeth. Ah, after three caminos I’m becoming too proud.

Left Portomarin (and the three women) and walked with Jacqueline at Austrian pace straight to Palas de Rei. Found place at private albergue that was rabbit warren inside and headed to church for Pentecost evening mass. Agreed to meet Stefan of South Africa, also in town, for dinner and discussion. Dinner with Stefan and Jesús of Pamplona at restaurant above albergue. Great to see Stefan again and to enjoy his teasing and passion. Off to bed after texting Sebastian and Catia and Andreas and Luke/Rocky our whereabouts.

August 24, 2008 Melide to Arzua

Today’s walk would take us only 14 km to the town of Arzua, which would give plenty of time to relax and rest. Our guidebook mentioned an ancient church at Donas de Vilar and a medieval castle at Pambre that was off the camino near Palas de Rei, so we decided for reward ourselves with a taxi ride and church/castle tour if we could get to Arzua at a decent hour.

The thought of only a 3 hour walk gave Gail great hope, so we made it to Arzua by lunchtime and found a room at a hotel right on the camino in the heart of town. We left our things, found a taxi, and enjoyed a long ride to Castillo Pambre, a very scenic and deserted castle between woods and farms off the camino. Unfortunately there was no way to go inside the castle, so we walked down into a horse pasture to get the full effect of the building’s architecture and shared the space with a huge white stallion. We then headed to Vilar de Donas, and after finding the keeper of the key, studied every aspect of this nearly 1000 year old church.

Today was a nice day of gentle walking and car touring. This quiet and interesting day gave us both the sense that we were now starting to have fun, even as the end of our walk drew near.

August 23, 2008 Eirexe to Melide

Even to make it to Santiago on a relaxed schedule would require us to walk 22 km today, so I hoped that Gail’s foot pain would be better today and we could make it to Melide.

We set out with no sign of Christian, but we saw Carol and Jake on and off through the day. Jake, at 20ish years old, was a camino jackrabbit. He was in great shape and able to walk back and forth between us and his mom as though each step was effortless. Carol had a slower pace and we often saw the two catching another cup of coffee (or an ice cream bar) along the path.

We walked downhill through the town of Palas de Rei, stopping only to look for an ATM and lunch. We nabbed a few additional stamps for our credentials at churches along the way, including one at which the priest ran out of his building, waved and shouted at us to come in and see his amazing church, then asked for a 5€ donation for the privilege. The stop was worth it mostly to admire the chutzpah of this entrepreneurial servant of God.

As the day wore on Gail began to reach the limits of her endurance. We finally arrived at Melide, where we’d arranged a rendezvous with Jake and Carol, but we couldn’t locate the hotel they’d mentioned and Gail was desperate to get off her feet. I left her in the main plaza and ran off to find any hotel, securing a great room in the Pousada Chiquitin. Something about this hotel’s combination of location, simplicity and chic modern made me really like it. I ran back to get Gail and settled her into the room while I went across the street to the albergue to do our laundry.

While Gail rested I enjoyed stepping back into albergue life, if only for an hour or so. Even though I was staying at a nearby hotel I was welcomed into the albergue by the kind hospitalera and allowed to use the coin-op washer and dryer. The washer ate my coins and then stopped partway through its cycle, which led the hospitalera and me to get put our arms around it and shake it back to its senses. Sure enough it began to work again and my laundry proceeded to get cleaned.

While I waited for the cycle to complete I went to the albergue kitchen and enjoyed some of the usual enjoyable pilgrim company. As always, pilgrims from all over the world were in attendance and I had a long conversation with a young female Australian veterinarian who was walking the camino from St. Jean Pied de Port. When the laundry was done I walked over to Gail with our clean clothes. She was asleep, so I headed out for a haircut and after she woke up we had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant before calling it a day.