Friday, September 20th

And down in the cafe/reception part of the hotel, having that essential first morning cuppa, but it's a pity to leave this town. Other early morning pilgrims are also here, also braced for the cold day that's promised. Recognize a local, the woman from the Tart Shop. Beginning to almost feel like a local too. The guy who runs this hotel must work incredibly long hours every day, he served us these coffees, took our payment last night for the meal and the room, and registered us as guests yesterday when we arrived.

a little later
The footbridge out of town was great, looking into the water below, trying to make sense of the shapes of what were buildings, before the dam was built, and not having much luck with it. Then the cobblestone patterned house, and the magnificent grapevines of that house's next door neighbour. A fairly steep climb, reaching a small forest, then the road. Passing through Toxebo, although the town sign read Tojebo - the kind of boring detail pilgrims notice. A brilliant horreo. Walking behind a woman with a yellow rain cover, who'd occasionally speak to us in Spanish;
"Rainbow !" (in Spanish)
"Horreo !" (also in Spanish)

Passed by bikie-type pilgrims, daring to 'ola' us, not knowings how much they should not be here, let alone on the same track as the walking pilgrims.

Roadwalking, then on the tanned crushed gravel path that parallels the road.

The only bar, full of pilgrims, bikes en masse out the front. And bejaysus, a bikie pilgrim has just produced a wicker picnic basket, full o'goodies. I'm so glad I don't have a gun.
It's been a mix of sunshowers, gentle drizzle, one heavy burst of rain, and moments of wondering what it's going to do next.

Castromayor, or Castromaier, or Castromajor (depending on who you believe)
Second cuppa. Nicer bar, the cafe Bar O Castro, and there's a woodburning stove in the corner, and the bar chick is reading next to it, and I'm not having much luck opening this bag of peanuts.
I'm impressed by the wooden cart wheels suspended from the ceiling, which have electric light bulbs embedded into it, now that's class all the way.

Loads of pilgrims on The Way today. Walking, Riding, Moving along, and my cynical mind suggests that perhaps the Pilgrim Bus has broken down somewhere.

Ventas de Naron
I don't like it. It's horrible, just horrible. The boy serving at the bar has an utterly dead look on his face. Maybe living proof of why dope every evening is perhaps not such a good idea. The 2002 Refugio Guide says there's a shop in town. If there is, then we haven't found the town yet. We had intended to stay here, but no, it's just too ugly. The ugly hotel, the dopey kids, the highway out the front of the refugio. The pits.

Eirexe, or Airexe.
At the refugio. This isn't a cowshit village, it just happens to smell like it, as I suspect they've been spreading the liquid fertilizer in the farms on the other side of the road. It's small, it's rural, it's boring, but it's better than Ventas.

Backwards ½km. To the bar, having a boccadillo. Excellent, I'd completely forgotten lunch, now it's something unexpected to help pass the time.

Earlier, walking with Olaf, the German, and an author of three books, "After Life", or maybe it was "After Time", until we reached the cross, the one with the skull and crossbones on its base. He's a two ski-pole pilgrim, the kind that resemble ungainly spiders as they move, but he gives us a demonstration of how two poles help you walk faster. His demonstration was kind of funny, as he honestly believed speed was important, and that speed was totally independent of the effort you were putting in. Also wondering what an author of three 'know yourself' books was doing on the Camino, after all he quotes himself as being an "interpersonal communications authority". Doubt he could've learned anything more. Maybe he was receiving a different kind of energy, from the leylines, up through the two poles.
But, as things turned out, he's also turned up here, and being sociable.

Hmm, they're taking their time with the boccadillos. Maybe it's an extension of the game.

Wanders. After siesta'ing for as long as it took the French whisperers and the German yellers to turn up. Gave it away after that.
Up the road next to the refugio, taking the Right Fork. The Left is The Way. But, there's not much. There's only so much of a pine plantation you can take, but overlooking distant villages, where there might be something happening, but probably not. Then back.
To the iglise, while Chris does a painting. Found the portal with Daniel and the animals, the book says it's on the south side, but it seemed like east to me.

The daily life of the farm over the road even becomes interesting for a while. A tractor, pulling a large cylinder. A black hosepipe is attached to the cylinder thing, which vacuums up all the shit from the cowshed, and there must be tons and tons of it as they've been at it all day. This part of the process really stinks, a nauseating stench, not at all like the smell of the cowshit villages. Anyway, the load is then tractored to a nearby field, and sprayed, like a fountain, over everything, a huge fan of excrement arcing from the cylinder thing, all shades of brown.

Back to the 'bad' bar. I guess tempting a dose of food poisoning is something to do. Take your chances and choose your poison. Vaguely entertaining is the tractor delivering a trayload of cut branches to the bar.
Met another Australian, although he's studying in Austria. He'd also walked from LePuy, but caught the train from Conque.

Tea at the house next door. We'd booked in, along with a few other pilgrims. Turned out to be the French ones. Strange, the woman serving seemed kind of grumpy all the time, I have no idea why. Anyway, successfully got pissed again. Three glasses of red wine will do it for sure.

A brief chat with the hospitalero, Manapeth I think, who's been sharing around these chocolate donut-shaped biscuits, and I gather she's been the hospitalero here for a long time, and still enjoys it. It's her home away from home. She wondered about the black clothes, and if I was in mourning or something. No. It's just my natural, miserable self.