Monday, September 23rd
Began walking in the dark, just, but becoming light soon
enough. Dumping my bedroll into a bin on the way out of town, I won't be
Familiar scents, a eucalypt forest, mingled with native trees. Then down a track, stopping at a river, with seven large stones to cross it. Sitting here a while, and other pilgrims walk passed, exchanging the obligatory 'ola's'.
Then some bikie pilgrims, and I have to fight back the urge to jam my walking pole into the spokes of their wheels, but they 'ola' us too. As though walkers and bikies are brethren.
Chris gets a text message from home, on her mobile, but it's actually for me. It's a Brisbane Vs Collingwood Grand Final. As much as Collingwood is a team to be loathed, I hope they win.
Walking on, more eucalypts. No koalas, though I'm kind of expecting Skippy at any moment.
Thought it was plain old boring Boente, but no, it's full name is Boente del Arriba!! The bar doesn't do boccadillos or tostadas, so we're having to make do with coffee and chocolate. Life is tough. There's a cartoon map on the wall of The Way, from Lebreiro, with the basket over the fountain, and ends in Santiago.
A group of pilgrims at another table, French and German but speaking English, discussing writing books about their experiences of the Camino. They've switched to French, but one of them is wondering aloud if Saint Francis of Assisi wrote about walking the Camino. No, he didn't. It's just everybody else that has.
Walking through Casteñeda, which my guidebook mis-spells as Casteñedra, and thinking of Carlos, although he's actually Castaneda. But, even though he made up the stories about sharing the peyote with the Indian, which is all the more power to him, the idea of gaining experience, however dangerous it may be to your physical wellbeing, is a courageous thing. Almost like Walking the Camino. The ideas about changing one's ways of thinking, the ideas about what is beyond whatever the complex web of inter-related hypotheses, that we call reality, might be.
have a room at the Hostal Teodora, which pleases me as it's actually
mentioned in Raju's guidebook:
Have to get the
passport stamped, usually it's done at the refugio's, sometimes in bars,
also in churches, but I don't think the Teodora has one. I'm thinking
the Iglesia. Just trying to find it. They're nearly always at the highest part
of any town, at least they are in Australia. But the highest point in Arzua
is yet another marble factory.
There's a shop, though, off the main street, that is full of everything, and run by two old ladies. Chris spies the condiment holder of her wildest dreams, but refrains. I ask directions for the Iglesia, "Donde esta Iglesia ?", and
I'm shown everything they have in the shape with a representation of the Santiago Cathedral. Tacky big scale models, and even tackier little ones, then there's the blue commemorative plates with golden images and 'Galicia' written across the top. Then there's the glass balls with snowflakes raining down on the Cathedral.
I'm shown more stuff.
"Ah !" she replies, and begins scrabbling through piles of stuff to extract even more appalling memorabilia from the shop windows. I just give up, "Gracias !", and leave.
If I'd stayed any longer, would've felt obliged to buy something, just to justify the time spent in there and the trouble she went to in trying to sell me something truly awful. If I do end up buying some kind of memorabilia, it won't be until I get to Santiago, and it certainly won;t be a scale model of the Cathedral, a plate, let alone a glass snow-ball.
saw the Spire, or at least the bells of the church. Downhill, other side of the main street. To the church, the Santa Maria. No stamps, just three women praying. And a nun.
Then to the Information Centre. And yes, the sello, the stamp is in the passports. I guess that makes us officially here. It's a boring stamp.
Been wanders, down the Rúa Cima do Lugar, the paved street, passing the albergue. Looks nice enough on the outside, but inside it's still full of earnest young pilgrims. A nice touch, though, is the notice that bikies aren't admitted until 7:00pm. Should be 10:00pm. Better still would be not at all. Then down to the peregrino crossing, the one with that awful abstract Camino symbol. I hope they come up with a better Holy Year symbol in 2004.
Next bar, the Cafe Venus.
Been in tourist mode, shopwindowing. Galician-type ceramics, blue on white, vaguely Celtic, vaguely Greek. Surprising lack of touristy stuff, not even a postcard, hard even to buy a Santiago pin. Maybe they think that by the time the peregrino's arrive here, they've already bought the pin and sent the postcard. There's not much here that's actually postcard-worthy, apart from the Plaza Major and the Teatro Magico.
the Alimentacion. Water, and pastry things with icing sugar, made by
Then ate 'em in the park with the tortured trees laced overhead, the one with the statue of the old woman with a basket of bread at one end, and the two kiddies wrestling sheep at the other. Pilgrims about. There's a spectacularly sunburnt one, and another who's trying to achieve the same red glow by falling asleep in the sun .. maybe it's good for their unconscious minds.