Arzua to Armenal

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May 28th 2016
Published: May 31st 2016
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View from our Albergue in Melida.View from our Albergue in Melida.View from our Albergue in Melida.

German ladies tut-tutting while I took the shot from the window
It had been a long night, but we woke to the sound of songbirds and gentle rain. All quite pleasant until you realised we were about to venture out into it. Greg got the gang roused by about 0550 and we started to gather our belongings in the dark with head lamps. It was to be a 25 km day, so that we would arrive in Santiago before the Pilgrim's mass.

The Frenchies continued to sleep almost oblivious of our movements. Probably their 28 km trek of the previous day knocked them out: note to self about our plans for an even longer Camino in a few year's time. Backpacks swung over our shoulders and down stairs to regroup. Greg's knee was OK but causing him some trouble. Of course the younger ones were completely fresh and raring to go. The rain was steady and cold for the first two hours walking when we decided it was time to stop. We had realised by now that one did not stop at the first Albergue/cafe in a village because that is where the crowd gathers. Notwithstanding our discomfort we decided to leave the crowd behind, continue walking and were rewarded with
Setting off earlySetting off earlySetting off early

One of us looking grizzled
a cute little place, half filled. Everything we were carrying was wet on the outside but not drenched. The spray covers on the new Berghaus backpacks were pretty good, but steady rain has a way of seeping into every little spot it can. Our basic Spanish only got us so far in communications for coffee and tortillas, but the Italians and Spaniards in the room seemed to have no problem with stories around the football finals for tonight. Lots of wine and beer drunk at 9am to enhance their conversations. We trudged on and the rain showers came and passed.

The terrain was still rolling hills and small lanes running around dairy paddocks and market gardens. The Camino mileage markers were still showing the way but for some reason most of the little metal distance plaques had been removed. Made it difficult to know exactly where we were - not that it was possible to get lost. The villages were between 2 and 5 kms apart so we were never too far away from civilisation. Most farms and villages houses had a full sized horreo, or at least a small model horreo that was the letter box / fresh bread box. The Camino at this stage also winds back and forth past the highways and intermediate roads. Probably no surprise since the Camino trail was probably the first trail that followed indigenous community tracks, and the roads were built around them. We thought about the story of the dimensions of the Space Shuttle ultimately being scaled by the width of a horse's bum - search for it on the net if you have not read it before.

We were now out of sequence with the bulk of the pilgrim walkers because we stopped at different places. Likewise this day, the guide books refer to completing the stretch from Arzua to Santiago de Compostela in one day: a distance of about 38km!! After a couple of day's walking and enduring a few minor ailments we realised that this distance would be unsustainable for us to say the least. We are comfortable at about 25km, so we tried to fit a stop in between the two towns. Our host at the Posto Albergue had said that there were relatively few Albergues in this last stretch and this turned out to be true. So we opted to stay in a Hotel in Armenal and this turned out to be a good choice. After lunch along the way, persistent rain, and some ailments, we were really pleased to see the Hotel sign appear around a corner. The country was now open and peri-urban. The fields were smaller and the patches of forest tiny. There were plenty of pilgrims gathered around the entrance of the Hotel Armenal. The host was English, we think, but he could not work out the difference between Gregory Harper as the person who was booked in, and MacGregor. The booking seemed to be for MacGregor, but this was immaterial. We checked in to this three star hotel and jettisoned the wet gear. Wet boots in particular. We enjoyed a restaurant style lunch and a fine local Rioja. Mostly resting during the afternoon, but Alex and Greg tried to go out for a walk around the village. Turned our Armenal was nothing more than this Hotel and some older broken down farmhouses. Later we played some five hundred and prepared for the evening meal. It is true that this trip was largely walking, talking, thinking and eating. In Greg's case the pork rib Churrasco was memorable. Given that we had multiple i-machines available to us, we played GeoGuesser until ready to call it quits.

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