For a twelve-mile day, it took a long time — in large part, because it was a miscalculation on my part, and was actually a fifteen-mile day. The forecast of “partly sunny” never came to pass — it was mostly cloudy with a few blue patches and rain off and on all day. It is Galicia, and that is the expected weather. It can be pretty — misty hills, lots of shades of green.
Random notes: Groves of eucalyptus trees appear here and there, mixed in with fragrant pines and the oaks and chestnut trees native to the area. We walked through woods and fields, and several small villages. Eau de cow dominates the air in many areas, alternating with fermenting hay, and pine scent. We stopped briefly for coffee in Palas de Rei, and then for lunch at a place more or less in the country. As the afternoon wore on, we finally stopped again for coffee at another isolated little cafe, and pressed on to Melide. As we got to the outskirts of Melide, the rain and wind picked up and blew us into town — not at all like Mary Poppins with everything in place, but soaking,dripping wet and exhausted.
The dynamics of walking have changed. The Lazios seem inexhaustible, and never complaining (unlike me). We tell stories, compare notes about childhoods, catch up on what the families have been doing, touch on politics briefly. If Regina is along, we talk science; if Anthea, more about literature and the like. Peg and Regina and I stop pretty often to take photos. Jim and Tom wait patiently and banter.
At the pension’s bar where we’re staying, they didn’t serve dinner until 9:00 p.m., and because it’s Monday, many restaurants are closed. Anthea and Regina scouted out some possibilities, but we eventually decided to try for the three-star hotel listed in the guidebook. At that bar, they served us french fries, lentil soup, pasta with tomato sauce, and plates of gray (Truly. Gray broccoli) broccoli supplemented with a couple of hard-boiled eggs sliced in half and some potato chunks. Madrid was playing someone else in futball; that was the focus in every bar in town, so we watched futball and long Spanish commercials about cars.
We comment now and then on the fact that in three days, we will be in Santiago. But it doesn’t seem real and we don’t dwell on what that might mean. We pay attention to the fact that our rain gear seems to work pretty well — our ponchos are keeping us and our backpacks dry — legs and shoes get wet because we’re not wearing gaiters or rain pants. Jim and I brought umbrellas, and if the wind’s not blowing hard, they’re a help.
Tonight’s room is chilly — as was last night’s, but there they turned on the heat. Here they said, “It’s summer, we can’t turn on the heat.” The Internet doesn’t work (I’m using Regina’s again) — we feel sorry for the young people running the hotel.
Tuesday, September 25 — in Arzua — sending this, and will send today’s later.