Sunday, September 22nd

Palas de Rei
In the foyer of the refugio. On one wall, there's framed black and white photos, of pilgrims. Pilgrims on the road, the back views of pilgrims, they're all different, somehow all self-contained. Apparently they're originals, and the photographer is Manuel G Vincente. He's a genius.

But the bar here is called Casa Domingo, and it's great, even the ashtrays are scallop shells.There's a small museum of old farming equipment; a wooden cart, scythes, woodworking tools on the walls.
Been walking along perfect paths, wide and narrow, through perfect small villages. It almost feels like a movie:
"Cue the old woman !", and an old woman appears.
"Cue the dog !" and Fido, the trusty doggie, appears, wagging it's friendly tail.

Horreos, old and new, either wooden or brick. Cottages with blue windows, farms, with chickens on the loose.

Then the first eucalypt plantation, tiny, just planted. Odd, I've been told they were trying to get rid of them. Still, it was the smell I noticed first. It's distinctively Australian.

Next bar. And Chris wants tostadas, but the woman doesn't do them. I think I'm meant to make her 'do' them, maybe by threatening her with the pointy end of my walking stick or something. She doesn't 'do' Magdalena Cakes either.
It's another miracle town:

"A legend describes the founding of the Church of Santa Maria. A heavenly odor and, at night, a shining light emanated from a nearby fountain. Villagers dug up an image of the Virgin there and placed it on the altar of their church, but the next day they could not find the image, for it had returned to the fountain. This happened for several days, until the villagers carved this tympanum and dedicated the church to her, at which point the image remained calmly on the altar. This Virgin, with the lovely smile of someone who has gotten what they want, is still in the church. Reports indicate that in the 1960s some villagers believed she returned to the fountain every night to comb her hair."
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago. p.330

But, typically, the church is closed. So, the lovely smile is going to waste, and I'd like to know where the fountain is, unless it's this thing here with the large basket upturned over it. I'm not the only pilgrim here who's dissapointed that the Watery Tart is a no-show.

a little later
From a conversation overheard along The Way:
"There's something happening inside you, that's not conscious."
"Yeah ..."

This psychobabble cheers up my cynical heart no end. If it's unconscious, how can you agree? Or disagree? Unless your conscious mind, is somehow conscious of your unconscious mind.

a little later
And over the beautiful bridge and into the village, and what must be the first miracle of the day. As not only is the iglesia open, the Santa Lucia, but we got the almost guided tour as well.
The Madonna here looks disturbingly like Imelda Marcos, but she's holding a pair of eyes on a plate. Was this her martyrdom?

And eventually into Melide, through the town's fairly ordinary parts. I've been led to believe there'd be old women cooking up squid in back kettles on every corner, to be served with white wine, but there's none. There is, however, a market happening, with shoes, jeans, CDs of all your Latino favourites, fruit'n'vegies. But no squid.

Coffee, and a pastry thing, at the cafe Veracruz. We've decided not to stay at the albergue this time, so we've got to find a room.

A search around the streets, looking intently for any sign that said 'Habitaciones'. Gave up. Walked into a bar, the Hospedaje Xaneiro I Cafe-Bar, Chris asked if they had rooms, and yes, a double, 18 euros, 2nd floor, room 5. The hotel is on the corner of where the Rue Saint Pedro becomes Rua Principal, which is part of the Camino, and there's only 51kms left of it, or 52, if you believe the street sign in the middle of town.

Then wanders.
A music shop, with a vaguely hippy-type ambience. Nothing really tempting, not even Sharon Shannon's 'Live in Galway'. Then finding a cafe, and the first few stunk of cigar smoke. My theory is that Spanish caballeros claim their territory by stinking it up, with cigars. Much the same as dogs piss on territorial property.
Eventually found the Godiva Bar, seriously wooden. They don't 'do' boccadillos, but they do have a PreRaphaelite Godiva on the wall. Which also kind of makes up for missing out on this morning's watery tart.
The TV's on, as usual, and there's some cycling event, as usual.

Praza do Convento. Outside the iglesia. Shop windowing, Chris could have bought herself the Galician farmer's wive's uniform of a checked apron, and maybe some Armani sunglasses, and there's music coming fro somewhere, and the sun has just appeared. The sun must be taunting us now that we've decided against the Armani's.

Cathedral. Mass, which was kind of accidental. Just happened to be passing when the bells began ringing. So, just for the craic, and as all good pilgrims should, we went in. Still have absolutely no idea of what's being said, or sung, but by now I'm familiar with the routine.
I'm not sure if this is the Sanctus Spiritus or San Pedro's, it's the one with the retablo. Not many pilgrims in here, maybe they're down at the albergue talking psychobabble about unconscious inner growth, and how they're trying to resolve unconscious problems by walking the Camino. Must be influence of the numbers of Americans that have begun the Camino recently, since the 100km limit. The Credentiale equivalent of getting your degree from the pack of a cereal box.
No, mostly, they're older, probably locals, lots of balding heads (so, I feel right at home) or grey permed ones, and they're not wearing sandals, mostly. Some of the caballeros have very elegant shoes though.

Coffe Cantre. For the 'Menu del Dia'.
The TVs on, a soccer match this time. The score is 1-0, and I'm not sure if it's the team with the light blue and white stripes or the dark blue team that's winning.

The menu has finally been delivered to the table.
It's the dark blue team that's winning, 2-0.

I think we've ordered. Was in such a state of shock when the waiter actually appeared. Mumbled something, then the menu's got whipped away, and he's disappeared.

The bread and water has arrived.
The blue team has won, 3-0.

The crepes and chips have finally arrived. Sometimes you can go for so long being hungry, and kind of get over it, then you're just not really hungry anymore. For the sake of form, we get through it.

Wanders, basically in search of a farmacia. Found one, eventually. And I'd like to honestly to thank the woman who does the late shift at the Begoña Fernandez Valiño for taking an extraordinary amount of trouble to ensure that what we bought didn't contain aspirin.