Saturday, September 21st

No-one seems in much of a hurry to leave, it's dark out there. It's been raining all night and still drizzling. Still, we've only a short day planned anyway, so there's no real rush, I suppose. I just have this pilgrim mentality that if you're conscious then you should be walking.

a little later
reached the 71km marker, roadwalking, still drizzling, but not spirit dampening. The cafe/bar at Portos hasn't opened yet, so we're walking the 3kms each way to Vilar de Donas.

further down the Vilar de Donus road
The three chick pilgrims we've been following stopped, and waited for us, to tell us that this isn't The Way, but to the iglise. It was nice of them, but we explained that we knew.

Vilar de Donas
Took the side trip from The Way to this apparently quite significant and important place, the Romanesque church of El Salvador. Unfortunately it's closed 'til 11.00, typical. The three senoritas have tried the door, peered through the cracks in the door, just like I did. Chris is drawing it, the front door at least.

But no, we didn't wait for it to open, only until Chris' drawing was done. Then back to here, Portos. Back at the cafe, at least that's open.

Palas de Rei

Waiting for the refugio to open, noting a variation on the 14 year-old chick pilgrim with-skimpy-backpack thing, and that's the groups of fat men carrying nothing at all. A whole busload arriving at Brea. Huge guys.

And most of our stuff is in the clothesdryer here. Had to get the right change from the small supermercado next door, where the woman serving swapped our 10s and 20s for 50s. Then buying heaps of stuff, which might make for an interesting tea, as not only is there no cooking at the refugio, there's no crockery or cutlery either. The woman serving never stopped smiling, must be used to us peregrino types, I suspect she may have been one at some point.

The Cafe-Bar Plaza. Boccadillos, but I think Chris may have ordered a hamburguesa.
And guess who just got new shoes. The world famous Joma brand. 33 euros. Still, they only have to last about a week, but I'll be feeling like a fraud, imagining something along the lines of:
"Look at that one," the peregrino's will say, smirking, hiding their rage at the bus pilgrim ahead of them, "his shoes aren't even dirty." And they'll be fantasizing about doing me a severe damage should I be in the queue ahead of them at the Melide refugio.

Actually, before the shoes, I was on the Internet hunt. The 2002 Guide says the town has it, somewhere. Asked at the Information Shop, in the Plaza, the one that looks like a food-vending caravan (which Ii suspect it also doubles as) and was given directions. Up near the albergue, then up, supermercados, then left, then right. "Si," I say, and off we go. Find the place of the directions, but there's nothing even remotely resembling a possibility for an Internet connection. Then ask at a bar, near where Chris is drawing the smallest house in the entirety of Spain, and the bar chick draws me a map. It's up and to the left, apparently. I wander up every street that's on the left. Nope, not that one, just a few aggressive dogs, and nope to the next as well, just a bathroom fixtures shop, and the third, and final, one leads up to the iglise that's being restored for the next Holy Year, 2004. Just wanted to check the hotmail, and do some brainless surfing. Maybe next time.

The TV is on, and things have been getting quite intense in this soapie. Images of hanging men, women with bloodied faces, the women banging on an invisible wall behind which rich things laugh and light cigars with paper money.

Some French guy telling us that "Nicky's upstairs", another Australian. Maybe he expected us to immediately rush up the stairs in bounding leaps, with sounds of whoops of joy. I think not. I'm going to pretend I'm Irish again, bejaysus. But Chris is perturbed by the phenomenon of male peregrinos suddenly unable to read. It says 'Women. Senoritas' on the bathroom door, but hey, let's just barge in anyway. The no shower curtain policy is a little strange too.
The bikies are laying their bedrolls down in the 'Lounge' area, seemingly perturbed too, by the whole experience, as though they're new to it.

a little later
Bought another souvenir pin. The Xacobeo one, from the shop next door with the smiling, friendly, lady.

Cafe las Candelas, or at least that's what's written all over the serviette dispensers, with 'porque buscas 10 mejor' added for good measure. Vino Tinto et beer.

And after tea at the refugio, a salad extravaganza, to another bar, across and up the road. Terribly tempted by the black 'Rock-Mutos-No Camino' t-shirt behind the bar, 6 euros, but refrain.
The Hippy Pilgrim, one of the donkey crew, is at the bar, but the donkeys are still out in the street, getting rained on. Doesn't seem quite fair.