Wednesday, September 18th

Chris says that she didn't get to sleep until sometime after 3 a.m. Right, then it must have someone else snoring in my right ear from the word go. "Balderdash!" she says.
Whatever, the infrastructure of the Camino is falling apart, take heed whoever organizes the Holy Years. Whatever exists cannot cope with the numbers of people who are walking it. I have a solution. It's easy. Get rid of the bikies. What they do is not Pilgrimage, what they do is Sport. If, as I believe, the Santiago authorities do not accept 'Sport' as a valid reason for 'doing' the Camino, then why let them take the places of those are doing it for Spiritual or Religious reasons. It's easy. If bikies still want to do it, then let them organize hotel rooms, not refugios.

Still, today's a short walk, I'm hoping Ferreiros is a cowshit town, so it won't get the touristpilgrims, and maybe the bikies will just keep on a-rolling through.

Nothing short of a miracle has happened this morning. The Cafe Escalinata, over the road from the refugio, was open, just bring on the coffee and tostada avec marmalade.

Passed the churches on the way out of town, and the electricity substation, crossed the stream, walked down the lane, reached the railway line.

and the firstdaypilgrims are unpacking their raincovers for the first time ever, figuring out how to put them on, bejaysus, you can still see the packaging creases.

At least that's what the passport stamp says.
Then walking through Rente, where the cafe demands payment for the passport stamp. It's an awful cafe, just awful. The woman just stands there, staring, willing you to leave, maybe that's why the cafe con leche's were served lukewarm. So you'd leave sooner.

Marzán O Real
Next cafe, a much better one. Not only is the bar chick impressive in an elegant sort of way, there's an attached museum. Farming implements, and costumes, and photographs.
Chris says I've been whining all day. You ain't heard nothin' yet.

a little later

the 100kms remaining marker
The 100km marker is festooned with prayer stones and graffiti, and surrounded by firstdaypilgrims who really think this is something significant. They're honestly thinking they've done the hard yards.
For me, the 99.5 marker was far more significant. Started walking in the four figures, changed to triples 7kms before Condom, in France, and now to doubles. Singles will be on the last da

the 99.5 marker


We've booked in at the refugio, after having been made to wait, in the drizzle, until the 1:00 opening time. The hospitalero just sitting inside the door, vaguely swiping a mop over the floor in front of him, dab here, dab there. He looks like a slightly younger version of Jed Clampett. Eventually he decided that the game, of him just looking at the pilgrims and the pilgrims just looking at him, was over, and deciding that 12:35 was close enough, and we're allowed to register, and claim a bed.

Siesta's a few hours. You can't really ever 'catch up' on sleep, but bejaysus you can get tired without it.


this restaurant is actually in the village that's ½km further on down the road from Ferreiros. Over at another table, there's an American chick lecturing an English guy. Englishguy is hoping that his commitment to vegetarianism will impress Americanchick. The conversation changes, and Americanchick is holding forth about how her conversations are all being taped.
The bar assistants here have refined the trick of pretending not to see you down to a fine art. In fact, it's almost to the point of pilgrims have to actually fall over and die before they'll serve you. Standing at the bar is pointless, it'll just get you ignored.
At another table, there's the diners, they all sound American too.


A vino tinto, but I guess the 'grande' part of the 'cafe solo grande por favor' didn't quite penetrate the mind of the cartoon character behind the bar, in his dirty white 'Camel' t-shirt, overweight, unshaven and shuffling. I guess it's what this place does to you.
Maybe it's just my mood. Nothing else to do now but just go for the throat

Whatever my Camino was, it's over, finished. I no longer really care if I reach Santiago or not. It's just the physical miles remaining now, just a duty now. When I began, the people I was with really cared about what they were doing. These people now, in comparison, are just tourists. That's it. I hate the bikies, I hate the sound of their bells as they race up behind you and expect you to move aside for them. I hate the sporty pilgrims, so proud of the millions of kilometres they can walk in a day. I hate the tourists, in fact, I can't stand most of the other 'pilgrims'. I've just had enough of them. Tired of the refugios, tired of all the meaningless 'Buen Camino's', tired of the squeaky beds, sleeping pilgrims and noisy pilgrims, tired of people who just won't shut up, of the whisperers, of the fakes. I'm tired of all the limping and crippled pilgrims, pelerins and peregrinos. At every refugio, there's also a limper, and a groaner. Wondering why they bother. Wondering if they're for real, or just playing for sympathy. At the moment I just want to go home, and sit in front of the TV with a coffee that I don't have to pay for and just watch the football, preferably a match in which Geelong beats Collingwood.

Refugio, which in Galician, is 'Refuxio', and judging by the graffiti written under the top bunk here there's been more than a little refuxioning going on. Silke, in particular, has been a popular refuxio.
But after a briefly sunny bit, the rain's back. Good.

Back at the bar, down the hill, and Chris gets immediate service. Apparently her painting in here before has made her a bit of a local celebrity. She's known as 'the artist'. Fair enough. It's about time they had another celebrity here, like Marcelino Lobato, otherwise known as Pilgrim Extraordinaire, whose framed, autographed picture on the wall here tells us he passed through on the 28th September 1999. I'm wondering if he was dressed in his Pilgrim Extraordinaire uniform when he passed through, or if that costume was just for the publicity shot. I'm trying to imagine Extraordinaire actually washing the robe in a refugio laundry, I mean, the hem must've gotten filthy in the charming, but cowshit towns of Galicia, and his walking pole is just too goddamn big to fit through a refugio door, Wondering if he even stayed in refugios. If he arrived late, in Sarria, for instance, would they have made him sleep in the stairwell landing, or given him the choice of a top or bottom bunk. Or, maybe, he just did a Coelho and stayed in hotels.
At least Coelho admits he didn't walk this last stretch, this last 100kms, so from here to Santiago is unknown to him. Not walking the 'Ultimo' means that he has a valid reason for not having the Credentiale. It's a very neat loophole he created for himself.
Better though, is the photograph next to Extraordinaire, of a child's doll dressed as Saint James, the upturned hat, the scallop shell, the brown robe, the stock with a gourd attached, and standing on it's own pedestal.

Another noodle and tuna extravaganza for tea, this time with a soup packet thrown in, added no end to the flavour. And a coke for postres. During all; the preparation, the serving, the eating, and the washing up, a peregrino chick has been on her mobile phone. She must be one of those rich peregrino types.