There are over 100 forest fires burning in Spain and Portugal as of yesterday, and last night in Melide we had a substantial rainstorm accompanied by lightning and thunder. It was really kicking up last night. Hopefully this will be the start of a change of fortunes for this area.
One note of interest……according to the authorities the majority of these fires have been started by various forms of human activity. Some of them intentional.
The dorm I was staying in last night was occupied by fellow Canadians Kim, Jacqui, a German fellow and myself. There were 8 bunks empty in our room. Quite a change from a couple of weeks ago when we had barely a single mattress available. Admittedly I am now staying off the Brierley Guide stages. Brierley is the author of the most used English guide book for the Camino.
At this time of year the numbers of pilgrims is also on the decline. A month ago there were 1500+ Pilgrims a day lining up for their certificates. One of the people I spoke with today said yesterday there were around 200 certificates issued. Quite a reduction….. I’m not one for lineups at the best of time.
Another bit of information for those on the watch. There are many websites you can see a webcam on showing the Praza do Obradorio. (Square in front of the Cathedral) Here is one if you have trouble locating one:
Now there appears to be a change of plans. I was originally planning to arrive at a pre-arranged time, and was going to lie down in the square spread eagle. I am still planning to do this, but now the time will be 1:00pm Spain time. This is 7:00am Toronto time.
Apparently the Butafeirmo will swing at 11:00am on Friday, so I will have to arrive much earlier to try and get into a lineup to get in. It is further complicated because I will need to find a place to leave my pack as the security precautions now do not permit packs into the Cathedral.
I will post more information as I learn more.
So….. I wake up, pack and head out the door of the Albergue right at 8. It is still raining slightly so I put my poncho on over myself and my pack. This affords protection from the rain and wind, and is actually somewhat warm.
One thing I failed to check on…..where is the Camino from here. Rather than make a multi-kilometre error two days in a row I decide to walk back into town. As I am walking I notice two pilgrims walking the opposite direction. I call out “Donde esta la Camino?” (Where is the Camino?) to which they point the direction they are going. Oddly, I actually know I had to leave the path of the Camino to reach this Albergue. I decide to trust their directions and cross the street and follow them from street light to streetlight. They decide to have a morning coffee and ask me in Spanish if I am going to have a coffee. I decline and the fellow points down the road, and indicated a left hand turn somewhere in the darkness ahead.
So I head out of town following the sidewalk into the darkness. With trucks and cars passing I decide I really do not need to break out my flashlight. After about 3 or 4 minutes I understand where the Camino was all along. It was a street North of the street we were on, and then turns south crossing over, and I join it easily. Now I can breath again.
Down another ink-black street, and a turn between houses and we actually leave town on a dirt, mud, stone path.
My plan today is slightly less than 20km, setting me up to enter Santiago on Friday morning. Being somewhat frightened I would not get a room prior to Santiago, (a couple of days from now) I reserved a room in the same hotel Susan, Bene, and I stayed in on the day before we entered Santiago 4 years ago. This gives me a short 2 hour walk to Santiago on Friday morning.
Rain sputters, but it really is not much more than a heavy mist by 10am so I decide to lose my poncho. The poncho combined with some moderately aggressive hills has me sweating heavily. The temperature has fallen dramatically however and I decide to put on a sweater, hat, and gloves. This moderates my temperature well until we hit more hills. Then I start sweating again. Off with the hat and gloves. Eventually I get the sweater off as well. The sun now is breaking through the clouds, and warming me. Sweat starts pouring off me again. Such is life with this 26lb pack on my back.
I run into Cathy and Nancy from Nashville and they are arriving the day before me. I have asked them to act as the forward guard and let me know if they are able to confirm the time of the Butafueirmo. They kindly agree to pass along any information they find.
Back on the road once again….at one point the path splits. Both go to the same place, one through countryside, and the other follows the road. According to an elderly gentleman standing at the split…they are both the same distance.
They may we’ll be the same length but I am pretty sure cars don’t climb hills this steep. More sweat…..where’s this stuff coming from?
My day is much shorter than is normal by about 2 hours. Nothing hurts, my feet are in great shape, and I could walk on for a couple of hours more quite easily. One thing to take away from this….I suspect I require a month of intensive training if I want to walk pain free.
When I walk into Arzua I decide I will stay in a small private Albergue on the opposite edge of town. By the time I find it it was almost 12:30pm. The door is locked. Often Albergues will not open until 1 or 2pm as they need to clean and prepare for the next wave of pilgrims. I wander around for 30 minutes and go back to find it still isn’t opened. Something tells me this Albergue may not open at all. I head off to another, larger Albergue I have seen.
No problem, and after a short walk I check in to my home for the night and am told to select any bunk I wish.
I decide to have a shower, get settled in and take a short nap. It is now 4:45 pm and I am starting to think I will be the only Pilgrim in this Albergue tonight. Twenty six beds….twenty five available.
Hey, no lineups to brush my teeth…..and little chance the snoring, if any, will wake me up.