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Day 14: Palas de Rei - Arzúa

Journal

Follow here my journey and stories around the World. 

 

Day 14: Palas de Rei - Arzúa

Ivan Blanco

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The night before, after some cheesy delicacies, we came back to the albergue where the washing machine, great invention pointed out on day 13, had an unexpected surprise for us. It actually did all except washing... the machine seemed to be broken so we had to charge all our dirty and wet clothes into another one and wait for it to finish.

But, you usually don't expect two machines to be broken at once, right? Well, apparently yes, and after a long 2h wait, the second washing ended as bad as the first. With Morpheus calling us to sleep, Maitane and I dried the clothes as much as we could and left them hanging in the cold night... Waking up, to our before last day on the Camino, Palas del Rei was going to be remembered as the place where we spent two hours drying our clothes with hair driers.

Fifteenth recommendation for the Camino: if you're a male pilgrim with short hair, join some female pilgrims, chances are you might need their hair drier at some point.

Fifteenth recommendation for the Camino, BIS: if you're a female bike pilgrim and don't know how to repair a punctured wheel, join some male bike pilgrims, chances are at least one can help you out.

My best Camino stamps!

With the clothes a little less wet... we did however go for our breakfast with not one, but two cappuccinos, my attempt was to try to out balance our wet apparel... and no, that didn't really work out. Although we left the albergue together, I suddenly decided to head back to the town's church, where I had met friar Jesús the day before to get my Camino stamps. They are actually some of the nicest ones of my Camino Credential (see them on my final Camino day). My sudden turn back, was probably motivated by the fear of not reaching the photo-interview objectives I had put myself. Therefore, I did him the interview which turned out to be one of my longest ones, not only because of Jesús' very positive energy, but also because of the many pilgrims that where coming for their stamps... this fact wasn't annoying at all, it even brought great unexpected moments and made me see another side of the Camino, the more spiritual, one of the people who make it possible; my time there was worth every minute.

The famous "Pulpo á feira"!

Reaching almost lunch time... yes, you've read right, it was 12:30, lunch time for most European countries, when I was going to start my day. To my surprise, Andrew had decided to wait me out, so we left together towards Melide. We went with the intention to have the famous Octopus dishes for which it is known. Some say that the best one is Pulperia Ezequiel other say it's A Garnacha... So how to decide when two options seem so seamlessly good... well, we were bike pilgrims, we only rode 1h30 on that day, we like beer, and we don't drink just one: so we had "Pulpo á feira" in both places (this is the Spanish name for yet another gastronomic delicacy, which some funnily and inaccurately translate into "Octopus to the party"; find more info here).

All topped up, Andrew and I took our beloved bikes and while still in Melide, it turned out to be one very social place to be. We had a chitchat with Raquel and Macarena, fellow pilgrims, at one of the "Pulpo" places, afterwards we found some Californian girls, Stephanie, Emilie and Sabra, pilgrims too. So the idea of staying was developing in our heads, after just 10 km on our counter this day, yes 10... I even found Alfred! Yeah, Alfred, the German I met on my second Camino day in Villanova, I couldn't believe my eyes! Obviously, he did take some shortcut, but that didn't make it less of a happy moment of finding a walking pilgrim friend, specially when I wasn't expecting to see him on the Camino again.

Deep Galician forest

As tempting as the situation was turning out to be, our bikers' guilt made us finally head out and some more unique and special moments were about to happen. We first stopped in the next bar we found, no, we didn't plan a bar crawl. We actually had committed to get ourselves some drinks once we'd reach the next bar on our way with the very funny Raquel and Macarena. Without excess, drinking a little on the Camino helped them to lessen their feet pain, which already forced many walking pilgrims to stop and give up on the Camino (check out Spain's tourism board recommendations here, if you intend to do your Camino walking, biking or on a horse).

After this nice encounter, we went on and stopped at a Church where it's inside baffled us with the enormous number of saints cards that were hanging there, if you pass by Boente, between Melide and Arzúa, get inside, you won't get just a stamp. Even if you're not religious type, it's worthy to see this religious perspective of the Camino made up by the most devoted pilgrims, instead of the usual cathedrals, churches, crosses, statues, etc. It was also where we met Marina, Laura, Irene, Rubén and others, a very happy and funny bunch of Spanish pilgrims from mainly Southern Spain. They were at least ten and they had just recently met on the Camino, their happiness and energy were really contagious. Again, the bikers' guilt was doing us very good.

The amazing display of Saints Cards

More good was about to come, the ride down to Ribadisio was one of our most funny and beautiful ones, where we didn't stop to laugh and smile from ear to ear. It was going to precede a moment where we were about to save a life... yes, we were about to become heroes!

Away from any highway, roads or civilisation, in the midst of the deep forest and with night's darkness around the corner, we spotted a helpless and lost living creature... we found one very dazzled...Cow! One of the most common animals in my home region Galicia, giver of milk and the delicious cheeses. This one was out alone and lost its herd. We then tried to prevent the owner some further kms away, but she couldn't go back since she was herding the rest of the cows, so that's when Andrew and I decided to go back to rescue Pitusa (this name is totally fictional and any coincidence with reality is unintended). So, in a pure pilgrim style, Andrew and I became the Camino Cowboys. As a team of two tenacious riders, the mission was going to drag us even deeper into the Galician lands to liberate Pitusa from its trap. Once found, surrounding her on the bumpy grass lands wasn't going to be an easy task, but even with our heavy bikes and carriage, speed and skills made herding a cow possible. Having Andrew cut Pitusa's way, we got her back on track and started to head home. Happily leading her on the right path, the emotional moment when Pitusa recognised her owner was demonstrated with a very very passionate mooing. With everyone happy, we went on satisfied with our good deed.

The Camino Cowboy!

With yet again, another unique moment behind us and having darkness at our heels, we decided to stay in the nearby Arzúa and end this day's adventures. Arzúa is mainly known for its glorious cheese, the one I already told you about on day 10, the famous "Queso de Tetilla". Being almost the cheese capital of Galicia [thanks Pitusa], they organise once per year the Arzúa Cheese Festival, where you have different cheese producers from all parts of the World and also several home made producers. The latter's cheeses are completely home made and so fresh that you have to consume it almost immediately. If you have nostalgia for you're grandma's culinary expertise, then get your cheese from these, mainly, lovely grandmas.

Arzúa cheese!

We didn't have the chance of the festival being held the same time we were there, but coincidence or destiny was striking me again in another way. We entered in an albergue that was actually run by a neighbour from my small home town Negreira, around 100 km away, so of course, there we stayed! We met there also 5 pilgrims from Nebraska with whom we went to find the most Galician pilgrim menu we could. So we did and learned about their story. They were from the same chapel and when their Fr. Nolte told them his intention to do the Camino, they simply joined him on this adventure. We had a lovely time together where I showed them all I could about Galicia and our gastronomy, obviously, being in Arzúa, we had some taste of the glorious "Queso de Tetilla".

So after a rather wet start, some longing, some great gourmet moments and many beautiful encounters, our Camino was gearing towards its end, but not without making more and more unique friends. At the same time, one of the most important aspects of the Camino was starting to become clearer.

Stay tuned for day 15 of my pilgrimage to Santiago, the final one of this amazing adventure.